PM in favor of EU’s enlargement

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday reiterated Greece’s support for Turkey’s accession to the European Union as a full member, provided it fulfills all the criteria set by the EU. «A European Turkey that respects European principles and values is in everyone’s interest,» Karamanlis said following talks with Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen in Helsinki. Finland takes over the EU’s rotating six-month presidency on Saturday, July 1. Vanhanen said that if it wants to become a full EU member, Turkey must respect the EU’s principles and priorities. Among the latter is the request for Turkey to extend the customs union agreement to the 10 EU newcomers, including the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus but the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state in the island’s north instead. The extension of the customs union agreement would amount to an implicit recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. The two premiers also discussed the ambitions of western Balkan states, namely Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to join the EU, with Karamanlis arguing in favor, despite skepticism voiced by other EU members.

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