Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that 2003 – in the first half of which Greece will hold the EU’s rotating presidency – will be crucial for foreign policy. Issues on the agenda include Cyprus, Greek-Turkish relations, Turkish-EU relations, the EU’s nascent defense force and illegal immigration. «We must all know that this will not be an easy time… We need persistence and consensus on these issues,» Simitis said after a meeting with President Costis Stephanopoulos. Simitis briefed the president on the recent EU summit in Seville, and on domestic issues. Speaking with Stephanopoulos before journalists were ushered out of the room, Simitis commented that Athens had managed to overturn the previous situation regarding the EU’s rapid reaction force. «Turkey is now alone… and must explain why it refuses to sign,» he said.