President’s conditions for Turkey

Turkey is welcome to join the European Union, but must first satisfy Greek positions on a series of bilateral issues, President Costis Stephanopoulos said yesterday. «We honestly want Turkey [in the EU],» Stephanopoulos said in a speech in the town of Nafpaktos, during commemorations for the 1571 Battle of Lepanto, in which a combined Christian fleet shattered Ottoman naval power. «But Turkey must also be reminded of its obligations to Greece and Cyprus… Turkey cannot join the EU if it does not normalize relations with Greece, recognize the Republic of Cyprus and contribute to a solution to the Cyprus problem.» Stephanopoulos also called on Ankara to recognize that the Istanbul-based ecumenical patriarch is the leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, reopen the Halki Orthodox seminary and make restitutions for properties seized from members of Turkey’s dwindling ethnic Greek minority. Stephanopoulos, whose position is purely ceremonial, was speaking four days after the EU Commission gave Turkey the green light to start EU membership talks.