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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-03-04

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Turkey should extend EU customs union pact

  • [01] Turkey should extend EU customs union pact

    Turkey should move to extend a customs union agreement to the European Union's 10 new member states, which include Cyprus, Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik said on Saturday.

    "We shall all be closely watching developments in this issue," Plassnik, president of the EU's general affairs council, told a joint news conference after a meeting in the Austrian capital with her visiting Greek counterpart, Dora Bakoyanni.

    The two ministers' agenda for talks covered the situation in the Balkans in the wake of Bakoyanni's tour of the region last week, the outlook for the EU's constitution treaty, and the bloc's relations with the Muslim world after publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

    Both foreign ministers underlined the need to strengthen the western Balkans' European perspective.

    "Despite difficult changes that need to occur internally, the Balkan countries must know that at the end of road lies their incorporation into the European family," Bakoyanni said.

    According to Plassnik, the EU itself and each individual member state should work to strengthen countries in the region in order to achieve stability and prosperity.

    Turning to the European constitution, the Austrian minister noted that a dynamic policy of transparency and communication was needed so that Europeans could regain confidence in the continent's structure; and coming moves would be "choreographed" by the end of Austria's rotating presidency of the bloc in June.

    On the cartoons depicting Mohammed, Bakoyanni said that freedom of the press was a fundamental principle of democracy in the EU, along with respect for the religions.

    Asked by a reporter to comment on Iran's nuclear programme, Plassnik stated that Teheran should return to a confidence-building process with the international community.

    Earlier, Bakoyanni met the UN's special envoy for Kosovo and a former Finnish president, Marti Ahtisaari, whom she briefed on the outcome of her visits to Pristina and Belgrade.

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