PM stands firm on Turkey

Greece will not accept any deviation from Turkey in the commitments it has made as part of its efforts to join the European Union, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday told Matti Vanhanen, the prime minister of Finland, which currently holds the EU presidency. The two men met on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) which was being held in Helsinki. Government sources said that the meeting was significant, as the European Commission is due to issue its report on Turkey’s membership progress in some six weeks. Athens believes that a number of other EU states, not just Cyprus, have come around to the Greek point of view that Ankara should not be given any leeway in meeting its accession targets, such as opening its harbors and airports to Cypriot ships and planes. Karamanlis was in Helsinki to take part in a two-day summit between 38 European and Asian leaders whose countries represent some 40 percent of the world’s population and half its output and trade. The leaders agreed to keep reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol, a United Nations pact on climate change, expires in 2012. However, their joint declaration recognized that developing countries have «legitimate priority needs» to develop their economies and help many of their citizens out of poverty. As a result, the delegates did not set new targets beyond the Kyoto Protocol. Karamanlis told the leaders attending the summit that Greece was willing to host a meeting of ASEM members to discuss religious issues, arguing that the dialogue could help combat terrorism and religious fanaticism.