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EU Commissioner Füle stresses 'key' Greek role in EU enlargement;
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule emphasised in Athens on Monday that Greece retains a key role in relation to European accession prospects as well as stability in southeastern Europe, in statements made after a meeting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.
"Greece, in spite of the serious crisis it is undergoing, continues to be interested in enlargement and we agree on its goals," Fule said at the offices of the European Commission in Athens, directly after the meetings. Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas also participated in a panel discussion.
Concerning Turkey, in particular, he noted that its relations with the EU were marked by many strategic interests in common but also difficulties. He emphasised that Turkey was key for the stability of the region and a significant economic partner.
"It is in the interests of Greece for Turkey to have democracy, stability and economic growth," he added, noting that Ankara had made a pledge through the 'Positive Agenda' to seek rapprochement with the EU, one of the criteria of reforms.
According to Kourkoulas, Athens has the same strategic goals and the same approach toward enlargement as the European Commission, especially in the Western Balkans. Close cooperation with the Commission was an important element of Greece's policy in the region, he added, while enlargement would be a priority issues for the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2014, via the 'Agenda 2014' initiative.www.amna.gr
According to Avramopoulos, in statements after meeting Fule earlier on Monday, Greece "actively supports the European prospects of Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) and Albania, provided they comply with the criteria and decisions of the EU".
He also underlined that the 'Agenda 2014' initiative for the EU accession of the western Balkans would be a priority of the Greek EU presidency in that period. Avramopoulos referred to the ongoing "name dispute" with fYRoM and stressed that this must be resolved before the country joined the EU, stressing that there could not be "European integration with unresolved issues" and that a solution must be based on "mutual historical and cultural respect".
The Greek foreign minister said he expected a new initiative from the United Nations in that direction and encouraged UN mediator for the name dispute Matthew Nimetz to begin a process toward this end.
The Commissioner is currently conducting a tour of European capitals ahead of the release on the European Commission's progress report on the EU candidate countries that is due to come out on Oct. 10
SOURCE: ATHENS NEWS AGENCY