PM calling time on Turkey

The government yesterday intensified criticism against Turkey for failing to implement basic European Union-oriented reforms after EU president Finland said that talks scheduled for Sunday, aimed at averting the collapse of Ankara’s EU bid, had been canceled. «Ankara’s refusal to implement compulsory reforms is foreign to the spirit which permeates the European Union,» Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said during a foreign policy debate in Parliament. «The political paradox of non-recognition of a (EU) member state such as Cyprus, by an existing candidate state, cannot be protracted indefinitely. Greece cannot see successes and progress where there are none,» he said. Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said Greece had not been invited to scheduled talks between Turkish and Cypriot officials this weekend in Helsinki – an apparent response to diplomats in Ankara who backed off after hearing Greece would not be attending. «Turkey was invited to the meeting due to the presence of Turkish forces (on Cyprus), which would have to be relocated to facilitate trade between the EU and the Turkish Cypriots,» Bakoyannis said. Both Bakoyannis and Karamanlis reiterated their support for Finland’s attempts to break a deadlock threatening Ankara’s EU bid while emphasizing their solidarity with Cyprus. But opposition PASOK directed harsh criticism against the government for allegedly being too soft on Turkey. «Supporting Turkey’s EU bid should not be a tantamount to a blank check. Greece should play a leading role in the bloc’s enlargement but it should have the courage to say ‘no’ too,» Papandreou said. He also accused Karamanlis of lacking a coherent strategy to solve the Cyprus problem. Karamanlis also urged the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to back down on its insistence on being called Macedonia or Athens would veto the country’s bid to join the EU and NATO.

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