Simitis on Cyprus' EU accession
According to Prime Minister Constantine Simitis, Hellenes and Cypriots should not be worried about the effect of a future provocation by Turkey. "The association agreements regarding Cyprus' entry in the EU are going very well, and it is certain that as Cyprus entry negotiations are reaching an end, Turkey will continue to harass both Greece and Cyprus. This is exactly the tactic that Turkey's followed before the Helsinki Summit. We should continue as normal and not be troubled about this behaviour."
Prime Minister visits Malta
Prime Minister Simitis expressed his support for Malta's entry into the European Union during a visit to the island nation. "We support and encourage the entry of Malta in the Union, as we believe that it could contribute a lot to the further stability of the Mediterranean and at the same time it will assist the EU, as it fulfils all the necessary prerequisites."
During a press conference with Maltese Prime Minister Fenes Adami, Simitis added that "Greece's belief is that the European Union's enlargement would be decided during the first half of 2003, when it would hold the Presidency of the Union. Of course we will face some difficulties, but we will do our best to overcome them, since we want the southern part of the European Union to be stronger than it already is. And that is the reason why we [would like] Malta and Cyprus [to] join [the] EU."
Maltese Prime Minister Adami stated that his country firmly supports Cypriot entry into the European Union. He is strongly convinced that Cyprus would be more than ready to enter the Union as it fulfils the terms of the association agreements set by EU. He also stated that Cyprus should enter the Union whether it finds a solution to its political problem or not. On Greek-Maltese relations he argued that they are very well established, and he expressed his satisfaction with Greece's support for Malta's attempts for entry.
Furthermore, Simitis, during his stay in Malta, urged Turkey to change its attitude towards Cyprus. His belief is that "...Greek-Turkish relations would be endangered if Turkish behaviour on the matter of Cyprus remains constant. Our aim is to establish good neighbour relations with Turkey, based on the implementation of international law. That is why we supported Turkey's attempts for becoming a member of the Union. As a result, this has not only advantages, but obligations for Turkey in the field of human rights, on its relations with its neighbours and on Cypriot affairs. It is our government's priority, as it is for all Greek governments, to find a fair and enduring solution for Cyprus. It is also our priority to ensure the continuance of the negotiations regarding Cyprus' entry to the Union."
Simitis also remarked that EU enlargement is both a great challenge and a great change for the Union itself. He repeated that Hellas supports the speeding up of the negotiations with the associated states. Moreover, next month at Gothenburg, all the European leaders will give their evaluations of the candidate countris.
Reactions against the new law on organised crime and terrorism
The new law that the Greek government is trying to pass on organised crime and terrorism has aroused serious reactions in Greece. The opposition parties—mainly those on the left—are expressing their disagreement with what they deem an undemocratic law. The opposition believes that it is legalising the surveillance of citizens as well as ensuring that secret service agents will not be prosecuted for their actions.
Minister of Foreign Affairs visits US
During his visit to the US, Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou explained Greek policy and its hopes for the expansion of the Euroepan Union and the advancement of regional co-operation. Regarding Cyprus, he argued that it is going to enter the Union with or without a solution to the political conflict there, although that was one of the conditions of the 1999 Helsinki Summit, which was accepted by USA. He also commented on the US's interest in contributing to the finding of a solution acceptable to both sides.
After the talks with the new US administration, he stated, "It was a good chance to meet and talk with the new government of the US and [with] my counterpart, Colin Powell. I have also talked with the Vice-President [Richard Cheney], where we discussed the priorities of our region, our co-operation and the primary role of our country in the stability of the Balkans Peninsula, and the need for stability in the region. Of course, two of the most important aspects of our talks were Greek-Turkish relations and the European Union-Turkish relations."
Despite the differences that exist between Greece and Turkey, George Papandreou stated that both states should continue to advance their relations.
Papandreou also held talks on aspects of terrorism. "For us, terrorism posses a threat to our democratic institutions and we [want to] co-operate with the US so that we have better results."
Finally, US officials commented on the great challenge that both the Presidency of the European Union, in 2003, and the Olympic Games of 2004 pose to Greece. According to Papandreou, US State Secretary Colin Powell has assigned one of his associates to be in close touch with the Greek government regarding the Olympic cease-fire, which could be prove to be a very useful diplomatic tool.
Greek deterrence ability
The government's decision to pause the armament program of Greece in order to use the money on welfare policies prompted a reaction of the opposition parties. According to Dora Bakogianni, a New Democracy Member of Parliament responsible for the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defence for the Greek Conservative Party, this would risk the deterrent ability of the country. According to government spokesperson Tilemachos Hitiris, the deterrent ability of Greece would not be affected by this unanimous decision of the government.
Konstantinos Louridas, 25 May 2001
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