Greek counterproposals for EU force

At a meeting of EU and NATO foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday, Greece tried to improve on an agreement that the EU is to reach with NATO so that the union can use the military alliance’s facilities without objections from Turkey, which is a member only of the latter. Under a compromise proposed by Britain, and which appears to have been accepted by the other countries, Ankara’s demands have been met. The deal proposes that when the security interests of a country that is a member of NATO but not of the EU are involved, negotiations will begin with that country. It also says that Europe’s security and defense policy will not deal with differences between an EU member-state and a state that is not a member, but is a member of the North Atlantic Alliance. The issue was not dealt with officially at the NATO meeting yesterday. But as Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters, Greece maintains certain reservations regarding the text. He noted that Greece wanted Turkey’s demand for equal participation in EU decision-taking to be rejected and that our sovereign rights not be infringed upon. The document needs to be worked upon by military and legal officials to secure Greece’s rights, Papandreou said. He will present Athens’s proposals to the EU General Affairs Council when it meets in Brussels on Monday. As Papandreou noted, it is not necessary for the issue to be finalized on Monday, nor at the EU summit at Laeken, near Brussels, the following weekend. We must not, under any circumstances, allow a state of euphoria to be created that is not justified by political developments, said Clerides’s spokesman, Michalis Papapetrou. Clerides indicated that he did not want any opportunity for a solution to be lost, but also did not want to soften his stand on the basic principles held to by the Cypriot government. Nobody maintains that the Turkish policy on Cyprus has changed because Mr Clerides and Mr Denktash met for an hour (on Tuesday). This remains to be proven at the negotiating table, said Papapetrou.

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