- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

Greece seeks unity
Greek Ambassador George Savvaides yesterday said his country's most pressing challenge during its presidency of the European Union would be to seek a unified EU position if the United States moves against Saddam Hussein without authorization from the U.N. Security Council.
"The presidency has to prepare the EU to have a common stance, to try to forge unity and cooperation among its members," he told editors and reporters at a luncheon at The Washington Times.
Britain, Italy, Portugal and Spain could be expected to support the United States, while most other members, notably Germany, would object to any invasion of Iraq not sanctioned by the United Nations, he said.
Greece this week took over the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, hoping to continue work on the latest round of expansion and promote a settlement on Cyprus.
"For the first time since 1974, we consider we have the possibility of a breakthrough," said Mr. Savvaides, a former director of Cypriot and Turkish issues in the Greek Foreign Ministry.
Cyprus has been divided since Turkey deployed troops in 1974 to protect the Turkish-Cypriot population after a Greek-led military coup attempted to annex the island to Greece.
Mr. Savvaides hopes Turkey will use its influence with the Turkish-Cypriot leadership to support a reunification plan proposed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
He believes Turkish-Cypriot public opinion, expressed in large demonstrations this week, has swung against Rauf Denktash, leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, who opposes Mr. Annan's plan.
"For Denktash, it is always undesirable to have a solution that goes beyond the status quo," Mr. Savvaides said. "He wishes to delay the process as much as possible."
Mr. Denktash, whose administration is recognized only by Turkey, is missing an opportunity to enter the EU in a partnership with the Republic of Cyprus, which is the internationally recognized government, the ambassador said.
"What he misses is the manifest change of mind by the Turkish-Cypriot population, the massive demonstration of willingness for peace and for a unified Cyprus to enter the EU," he added.
The EU is prepared to admit only the Greek-Cypriot part, if the island remains divided.
Mr. Savvaides said Turkey, which has about 30,000 troops in the Turkish-Cypriot part of the island, has a major incentive to seek a solution because the EU is holding out the promise of membership.
"The Turkish leadership is trying to solve the Cyprus problem, so they can begin negotiations to enter the EU by 2004," he said.
Mr. Savvaides said the Greek presidency's goals include: preparing for the 10 new members; promoting jobs and social programs; dealing with illegal immigration and border security; advancing plans for a European constitution; and encouraging a common foreign policy.
At a news conference at the National Press Club on Tuesday, he said, "Our message reflects a purpose to promote a community of values values which recognize citizens' right to security, democracy and a better quality of life; which will create institutions guaranteeing their participation and equality; and which will make the European citizen sense that his or her voice is heard as a member of a single family."

Israelis vote today
Israeli citizens in the United States vote today for members of parliament, two weeks before the scheduled elections in Israel.
The Israeli Embassy at 3514 International Drive NW is the polling place in the Washington area, and Israelis can also vote at Israeli consulates.
"There are 91 polling places as far away as Beijing and Sydney," spokesman Marc Regev said yesterday.
All polling stations are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in their local time zones. The consulate in Sydney, Australia, will be the first to open and the one in San Francisco will be the last to close.
One hundred fifty Israeli citizens are registered with the embassy, while 4,500 are registered worldwide. Twenty-nine political parties are running candidates for the 120 seats in the parliament, the Knesset.
Ambassador Daniel Ayalon hopes to be back in Washington to cast his ballot. He was in Florida yesterday for the launch of the space shuttle, which includes Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon among the crew.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide