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Alternate Foreign Minister Xenogiannakopoulou’s speech at the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs (15 December 2010) [excerpts]

Friday, 17 December 2010

Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou addressed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, 15 December 2010.

She briefed the Committee on the conclusions drawn up at the EU General Affairs and Foreign Affairs Councils (GAC/FAC) on Monday and Tuesday, 13 and 14 December 2010, and also referred to the matter of the Parliamentary ratification of the agreement on Greece’s joining the European common fund for the Western Balkans.

The following are thematically organized excerpts from her speech, translated from the Greek:

[on EU enlargement in Greece’s immediate neighbourhood]

•    “Greece supports the EU’s enlargement policy because, firstly, we see it as a policy that strengthens peace, stability and cooperation throughout the European space.”

•    “Moreover, in our geopolitical region – whose problems we are aware of – the enlargement process and the European perspectives of these countries creates an incentive and dynamic that contributes to the course of the domestic democratization and development of these countries and a policy that enhances cooperation, stability and peace in our region.”

•    “The enlargement course, as implemented in the European Union, is also a tool that makes possible the ongoing monitoring of this course. So there is also the incentive and potential for monitoring. And through this monitoring there is the potential for effective improvement as to compliance.”

[on the Council conclusions regarding FYROM]

•    “The conclusions are consistent, as they were last year. There is interesting wording that was in the European Commission’s report: progress on the part of Skopje is acknowledged, but it is also noted that this progress is uneven; there are a number of delays.”

•    “There is particular emphasis in the conclusions – and we pursued the reiteration of, and emphasis on, this – on the need for respect of good neighbourly relations, regional cooperation and, of course, avoidance of any move or statement that might create tension or problems.”

•    “The conclusions also point up the critical importance of the matter of the resolution of the name issue – through the UN process – as a pivotal issue on FYROM’s European course.”

[on the Council conclusions regarding Turkey]

•    “The conclusions regarding Turkey were very detailed.”

•    “We had a long discussion at the Council, because specific and, in many cases, different approaches had to be balanced out for there to be a final text.”

•    “There is extensive reference to the need for increased respect for religious freedoms, minority rights and property rights, with express mention of the need for Turkey to make an even greater effort to meet its obligations. And there is a strengthened statement concerning the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

•    “There is a stronger statement this year on Turkey’s position with regard to illegal migration. Turkey is referred to as a principal transit/origin country for illegal migration.”

•    “There is a need for greater effort from Turkey on this issue [illegal migration] so that we can conclude an EU-Turkey readmission agreement, stressing, however, that this needs to be a text that is mutually acceptable and effective.”

•    “The third important issue [with regard to Turkey] is that there was extensive reference in the conclusions to the matter of good neighbourly relations, respect for international law, avoiding actions, threats or any such conduct [that might cause tensions].”

•    “Again this year – as in last year’s conclusions – there is clear reference to respect for the sovereign rights of EU member states. And especially the right, the acquis, of all member states to conclude bilateral agreements and use international agreements, such as the Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

•    “The fifth issue has to do with matters concerning Cyprus: Turkey’s obligations to Cyprus vis-à-vis the additional protocol and all of these matters, on which we are in close cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus.”

[on Greece’s joining the European common fund for the Western Balkans]

•    “The fund the Greek Parliament is being asked to ratify is a tool for supporting the enlargement policy and making it more efficient and effective.”

•    “The first reason for the existence of this fund is better coordination focussed on the real needs of the fund’s members from the Western Balkans who are interested in having this European course. Better coordination of this development and economic cooperation, which will concurrently facilitate these countries’ preparations for their European courses.”

•    “The second reason [for Greece’s joining this fund] is better coordination of the available funding, which comes from many sources, including the European Commission, international organizations, the private sector and member states.”

•    “The third reason: If we didn’t participate in the fund, the decisions would be taken without us, whereas now we are participating.”

•    “The fourth reason is purely political: The greater a country’s presence in the development of economic cooperation, trade cooperation and infrastructure support, the greater that country’s political sway.”

•    “The fifth reason […] has to do with the participation of Greek enterprises. […] This is one of the principal aims of the tool we are ratifying today: to create the framework of greater participation and consolidation of Greek enterprises in this major economic cooperation.”