WASHINGTON.- Greek News
Secretary of State Colin Powel praised Greek presidency on its energetic leadership of the European Union during this important time of its expansion. Speaking on Wednesday at a reception given by the Greek Embassy in Washington to celebrate the signing of the Accession Treaty of the European Union by ten new members, Colin Powel said that the US, as a member of the larger transatlantic family, is pleased to join in the celebration of the historic signing in Athens of Accession Treaty.
”It is fair indeed that Athens, the birthplace of democracy, is host to this path breaking event for Europe and for the rest of the world as well,” said the US Secretary of State, noting the US will continue to be a strong supporter of EU’s further expansion which is ”good for the individual countries abroad, good for Europe as a whole and good for transatlantic relationship
”As Europe unites and works with us for peace and reconciliation across the globe, all of us are aware that one of the European Union’s new members remains divided. The United States remains firmly committed to working with you and others to find a just and durable settlement for Cyprus,” Powel said.
He also welcomed the EU goal for the membership of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 and the decision ”to begin accession negotiations with Turkey if in December 2004 the European Council has decided that Turkey has fulfilled the Copenhagen criteria.”
”As we have said this is a visionary decision by European leaders to build a truly inclusive Union, we urge our Turkish friends to meet the Copenhagen criteria,” he said. Secretary Powel reminded that as the United States continue to enjoy strong bilateral relations with the current 15 members, after accession they look forward to deepening their already dynamic relations with the ten new members.
“And to all European Union members, old, new and aspiring, let me say that the United States sees it as crucial that Americans and Europeans maintain an open, vigorous dialogue. And I think we have demonstrated in recent months that we can do that. We see debates between the United States and European countries, and among European nations themselves, as a healthy sign that our democracies and our relationships are robust and resilient. We remember what Europe used to look like when it had no debates within certain blocks of member countries with certain blocks. We are never going back to that. And democracies mean that you speak up freely, just as the ancient Athenians did and Athens is so fitting, therefore, as a site for today’s accession and signature, signatures being offered”, he concluded.
Ambassador of Greece to the United States, George Savvaidis said that “this enlargement constitutes a real milestone in European history and politically speaking can only be compared to the historic decision that first set Europe on the road of integration; it will certainly have a lasting impact on future European generations”. The ten new members arecommitted to accept and implement criteria and modes of conduct that befit European democratic standards and traditions.
“In essence this means a harmonious and secure future for them as members of a community of values, prospects for their economic and social development and a fair share in political decision making in European and international affairs”.
Mr Savvaidis expressed the belief that “enlarged European Union, more cohesive and more effective in terms of its institutions and policies and more harmonious in expressing its common voice will be considered by the United States as a stronger partner and more valid interlocutor in world affairs. There is an equal need for the US and the EU to remain mutually respected partners”
Finally, he said that Secretary’s presence at the reception “constitutes a great honor for us, the EU and our countries; but at the same time it provides the best proof of the continuing US interest in European affairs and its commitment to jointly work with Europe in addressing world issues which constitute real challenges for our present and future”.