NEWS

Greek FM calls on Turkey to face its obligations to EU

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday called on Turkey to live up to its obligations as a prospective EU member, including the retraction of a threat to declare war if Greece expands its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea. Bakoyannis also said that Turkey’s Islamic government should allow the reopening of a theological seminary that is important for the survival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. «The final European course of Turkey will be judged by Turkey itself. Turkey has assumed some obligations and these… must be implemented,» Bakoyannis told The Associated Press. «All countries adjusted their laws, accepted the European standards so that they could join the EU. Turkey must also do this. There is no Europe a la carte for any country, and not for Turkey.» Bakoyannis said Greece’s relations with Turkey, the war-divided island of Cyprus, and the volatile western Balkans would be key issues she would discuss with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a meeting in Washington tomorrow. She said a media report that Turkey would declare war if Greece extended its territorial waters from 6 to 12 nautical miles from the coast was an «anachronism.» «This position is against the law of the sea and it is an issue that concerns the European Union. I have many times said that these types of declarations don’t help Turkey come closer to Europe, which it has said is its main goal.» Bakoyannis said some progress had been made on restarting talks to unify Cyprus. She said recent talks between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan «again put forward discussions for the promotion of a viable solution on Cyprus.» One of Turkey’s chief obligations, Bakoyannis added, was to respect human rights and religious freedom. She said it could start by reopening the Halki seminary located on a Turkish island off Istanbul which for generations has trained the Patriarchate’s priests. “The existence of the Patriarchate in the long run is dependent on the function of the theological school at Halki,» she said. «I believe that if Turkey opens the Halki school it will send a very important, symbolic message to the entire world: that an Islamic government like that of Mr Erdogan respects human and religious freedoms,» Bakoyannis said.