NEWS

Simitis spells out foreign policy

In his first visit to the Foreign Ministry yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis outlined his government’s position on foreign policy, focusing on relations with the European Union, the Cyprus problem and the new international climate following the September 11 attacks on the United States. The European Union is the political and social area in which we maximize benefits, possibilities and potential, Simitis said in a speech to the Ministry’s employees. He stressed that the priorities were to prepare for a successful EU presidency in 2003, the enlargement of the EU to include Cyprus, and contributing to the Union’s becoming more complete in the upcoming Intergovernmental Conference; to seek, with Greece’s allies in the EU and NATO a more integrated security system following the events of September 11. Simitis added that the terrorist attacks had created a new world situation in which things were more fluid, old principles did not apply or were in question and there was no active role for the EU in terms of foreign policy. This was seen as Simitis’s criticism of the meeting last Sunday to which British Prime Minister Tony Blair invited the leaders of France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. Simitis called for the Balkans not to be forgotten after September 11. He said that Greece would continue to work for a solution to the Cyprus problem and also supported Turkey’s closer ties with the EU. The Turkish-flagged ship is believed to have set sail from Izmir a week ago, packed with over a 1,000 people – mostly Iraqi Kurds, some Pakistanis and Afghans. Authorities arrested seven people on suspicion of being involved in the migrant smuggling operation. They were being questioned by the coast guard yesterday.