NEWS

Barroso backs Greece

Greece is implementing a «wise» policy toward Turkey and the Greek economy has made considerable progress in curbing its deficit, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told Kathimerini in an interview published yesterday. Barroso, who was visiting Greece to attend a conference on European political ideals in Delphi, described Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as a «patriotic Europhile» and a «friend,» while praising the premier’s approach to neighboring Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. «Greece has taken a very wise, constructive and intelligent stance toward Turkey’s prospects in Europe,» Barroso said. «Greece is stating the self-evident, namely that a country can join the EU only if it fulfills certain conditions,» the EC president added. Barroso drew a parallel between Greece and Portugal regarding the way the two countries view the EU. «We do not see it as a foreign power trying to impose its will on us – we are proud EU members, contributing to it and benefiting from it,» he said. The EC president also congratulated the government for steps taken to boost the economy. «After a difficult phase with an excessive deficit, some real efforts have been made,» he said. Barroso refused to comment on the possible repercussions on the Greek economy from a lengthy election campaign. Asked about Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU, Barroso was not too optimistic. «Turkey is not ready to be a member of the EU and the EU is not ready to accept Turkey as a member – neither tomorrow nor the day after,» he said. But the EC president was indirectly critical of objections raised by French President Nicolas Sarkozy regarding Turkey’s EU aspirations. «I would like to ask France, and all member states, not to change the decision that was reached collectively to continue with negotiations,» he said. On the issue of talks to resolve Kosovo’s final status, Barroso expressed his support for a plan put forward by United Nations mediator Martti Ahtisaari, envisaging «internationally supervised independence» despite objections from Belgrade and Moscow. «The plan should be the basis of a compromise solution. If necessary, there should be a few more months of negotiations,» he said.