NEWS

2004 ‘decisive’ for foreign affairs

2004 will be a crucial year for Greece’s foreign policy objectives, PM Costas Simitis said yesterday. «But another issue is especially significant for Greece: The Olympic Games,» he added. «The Olympic Games are not only a sports event, they are a social, political event which highlights a country and creates more opportunities for development… That’s where we must succeed,» he said. «The next four years will be decisive for some important issues for our country,» Simitis told a news conference in Thessaloniki, where he spent three days presenting his government’s policy on the occasion of the 68th annual international trade fair. «In 2004, Cyprus will become a full member of the EU and until then, it is clear that an effort will be made to solve the Cyprus issue,» Simitis said. «Also, at the end of 2004, negotiations will be held as to when Turkey’s accession talks (with the EU) will begin and by then, Turkey will have had to solve the problems that it has in the Aegean with Greece.» Simitis noted that the Erdogan government was prepared to make changes to achieve EU accession, but, he added, «I have not yet seen proof that things are really changing.» He noted that better ties with Turkey would free significant funds. Simitis said foreign troops should not serve in Iraq until the UN played an active role in running the country and there was a timetable for Iraqis to take over.