NEWS

Greece hails EU report

Athens and Nicosia yesterday both expressed their satisfaction with a European Commission report criticizing Turkey for its lack of progress in accession efforts. Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis described the report as «positive for issues of Greek interest… mentioning all points of interest to us.» These points reportedly include Turkey’s treatment of Orthodox Christians and its obligations to foster good relations with its neighbors. As Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis put it, «the report contains all the necessary data for one to assess Turkey’s progress toward the European Union.» But Valinakis stressed that Turkey’s failure to implement EU-oriented reforms was not a reason for Greece to rejoice. «We are not gloating about this; quite the opposite – it troubles us,» he said. He expressed Greece’s desire to see «a truly European Turkey join the EU» but emphasized that «the final responsibility lies with Turkey.» Athens also welcomed the section of the EC’s report referring to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) insistence on calling itself «Macedonia,» condemned by Greece which has a northern province of that name, as «an unresolved problem.» The EC’s report, and particularly its demand that Ankara open its ports to Cyprus by mid-December, was also welcomed in Nicosia yesterday. «We are satisfied because (the report) says Turkey has to fulfill its obligations to Cyprus,» Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas said. But Lillikas also called for a political debate to determine how Turkey should be dealt with if it fails to honor its EU obligations. «We need a political discussion over Turkey’s non-compliance to see if there is a convergence of views on this subject,» he said. Meanwhile, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was quoted by Agence France-Presse as dismissing attempts by the EU’s Finnish presidency to break a deadlock over Cyprus threatening Ankara’s EU bid, claiming that the Finnish formula was «unbalanced.»