Relations with Turkey and FYROM

Does the government believe that it can talk politics with (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan as long as the Turkish military leadership has its own views? First of all, we want a complete normalization of relations with Turkey. Secondly, we want to protect Greece’s rights and interests. Thirdly, we believe that the correct policy is to support Turkey’s future in Europe. Having said that, we should remember that certain types of behavior cannot change from one day to the next. A society with such specific characteristics cannot become European on all levels from one day to the next. Turkey’s behavior, along with that of its leaders, is being evaluated on a daily basis. In that sense, no one can give guarantees such as those you describe. On the other hand, Turkey – at least officially, and judging from its behavior – does not appear to be shifting from its traditional stance. That is being evaluated within the criteria for its course toward Europe. I believe that the Greek prime minster should keep channels of communication open with his Turkish counterpart and maintain as sincere a relationship as possible. The same applies to the question of Cyprus. Of course, here I want to emphasize that Hellenism achieved something major: not only Cyprus’s accession to Europe but the right to reject a solution it did not want. The goal is always to find a solution to the Cyprus issue on the basis of the Annan proposal. Of course there are issues that require discussion and revision. The most important thing is that we proceed carefully. I believe that one of the disadvantages of the previous attempt was the time factor. Do you expect a new initiative on the Cyprus issue before October 3, the day when Turkey’s accession negotiations are to begin? I don’t know, but I believe that after last year’s experience, all the protagonists will be much more careful. As for the question of FYROM’s name, what can we expect? Many serious mistakes and omissions have been made over a number of years and much valuable time has been wasted. I believe the initiative by (UN mediator Matthew) Nimetz has been important in that it provided a framework, although it was not to our complete satisfaction. However it provides a perspective that is worth discussing. The side that does not agree to discuss the issue will, for the first time in 15 years, be labeled intransigent. For those who know the international environment, even among friends and partners, that alone is a success.

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