NEWS

Athens insists it attained all summit goals

As Athens voiced deep content yesterday with the outcome of last week’s European Union summit meeting on Turkey’s accession talks, Nicosia expressed more qualified satisfaction, while sending a clear threat to use its blocking rights should Ankara fail to honor its commitments regarding Cyprus. After briefing President Costis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis insisted that Greece had achieved all its goals at the two-day Brussels summit that ended on Friday. «We succeeded in establishing a clear, European framework of rules governing Turkey’s behavior which, on the one hand, clears the way for the country’s European path while, on the other, leading to further normalization of Greek-Turkish relations,» he said. Following increasing pressure on Turkey to recognize Cyprus, EU leaders wrung a commitment out of Ankara to sign, by October 3, 2005 – when Turkey’s accession talks are to start – a protocol extending its EU customs union to the 10 new member states, including Cyprus. While far from official recognition, this is seen in Athens and Nicosia as a step in the right direction. «It was the first time in the history of the EU that the summit conclusions included, word for word, a third country’s commitment,» he said. «Turkey’s European course now depends on Turkey itself.» Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said in a televised address that the summit decisions were «a significant first step forward.» «Of course, we had sought to achieve more,» he said. «But we achieved what was feasible under the circumstances.» Papadopoulos said he had wrestled with the idea of using Cyprus’s veto, but decided against it. However, the president said he had told his EU colleagues that, should Turkey renege on its commitment to sign the protocol by October 3, Cyprus «has the right to not agree to the initiation of [Turkey’s] accession talks.»