NEWS

Premier calls for foreign policy debate

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday sent a letter to Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki requesting a cross-party parliamentary debate on foreign policy, with particular emphasis on Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem. Karamanlis’s request followed his briefing with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis who has just returned to Athens following two weeks of talks with US government officials in Washington and high-ranking foreign officials on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Yesterday morning, Bakoyannis briefed Karamanlis on the outcome of her talks, which focused chiefly on the Middle East, Cyprus and Kosovo, and filled him in on the details of Greece’s one-month presidency of the UN Security Council, which expired on Sunday. Questioned by reporters about the increasingly defiant stance of Turkish leaders opposite EU pressure to recognize EU member Cyprus, Bakoyannis referred to «tensions and effusive rhetoric which Greece has no reason to heed… as we have already expressed our stance concisely and decisively.» «This is going to be a season of decisions for Turkey’s political leadership, which will have to decide whether or not it is going to honor its EU obligations,» Bakoyannis said. «From there onward, and together with our fellow member states, we will assess the policy that Turkey will follow in a level-headed way,» she added. As regards a possible trip by Karamanlis to Ankara and a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to Athens, which had been anticipated this month, Bakoyannis stressed that she could not confirm specific dates for either visit. «Both sides are working to settle upon mutually convenient dates,» she said. Meanwhile in Brussels, a senior UN official said the organization would try to help the EU resolve a dispute with Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, which has been refusing to open its ports to member state Cyprus. «I gave assurances to (EU Commissioner) Olli Rehn that we would see what we can do to help on that issue,» UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown told a news brief.