Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Mr President, honourable members of the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr Secretary General, Your Excellency Martti Ahtisaari, ladies and gentlemen, I would like first to thank the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, particularly President René van der Linden, for the invitation to address you today.

Many decades have elapsed since the Council of Europe was founded in May 1949 and since Greece joined this institution in August of the same year – decades that were decisive for the history of Europe, as indeed for the whole world. It is almost half a century since Paul-Henri Spaak was elected as the first President of the then Consultative Assembly. Since then, the Parliamentary Assembly has played a crucial role in the development of the Council of Europe. I thank President René van der Linden for his tireless efforts in promoting the work of the Parliamentary Assembly, adding the voice of 800 million European citizens to the voices of their governments. I would also like to take this opportunity to express to members of the Assembly my appreciation of the work that you have tirelessly pursued in helping to promote change towards a better future for us all – a process that clearly contributes to the further consolidation of human rights, democracy and the rule of law on our continent.

That has occurred in a number of ways. Perhaps the most remarkable was the inception of the European Court of Human Rights, which is a unique institution in the history of modern European democracy – an institution that has evolved remarkably from one which, for the most part, received and examined a mere trickle of interstate applications to an effective and wide-ranging organ of justice. Today, it receives over 50 000 individual applications – a number that seems set to rise significantly. That work load has of course strained the organs of the institution, although it must be seen first and foremost as an indication of success rather than a problem. Nevertheless, there is an urgent need to set in motion an articulated process of reform to guarantee the viability and success of the Court well into the 21st century. That is why it is crucial that we conclude the ratification procedures of Protocol No. 14 to the Convention.

Another very important part of the process is implementation of judicial reforms and the improvement of the process of justice at national level. For the Court to function effectively, its decisions must be fully implemented in our countries. That can at times be difficult for any government, but it is the only way forward in terms of the effective protection of human rights in Europe. That is why the Committee of Ministers must continue effectively to supervise the execution of the Court’s judgments. Those decisions should never, under any circumstances, constitute an object of negotiation, nor be associated with reservations in any guise or form. As regards the protection of human rights and the rule of law, it is our supreme duty to apply the same values and standards throughout our continent. Only in that way can we ensure the unfaltering credibility of our Organisation in the years to come.

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights represents an institution that is equally important as a court even though it operates in a different way. Its limited financial and human resources must be considerably strengthened, especially in view of the entering into force of Protocol No. 14. We have always strongly supported this institution and we shall continue to lend Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg the same strong support that we offered to his predecessor. Indeed, my country will do everything in its power to ensure the success of this institution in the years to come. In this regard, I feel that the recommendations that the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, made in his report are very pertinent.

That brings me to the report itself and the envisaged draft memorandum of understanding to be signed by the Council of Europe on the one hand and the European Union on the other. As members of the EU, we have sought – our efforts shall continue – to cultivate greater understanding within the Union on the report’s proposals. We may not be able to reach agreement across the board, but we can certainly do better. It is regrettable that progress in drafting the memorandum has stalled, and the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights is an urgent priority.

I want to touch on two further issues of major importance for our Organisation and for the world today: the pursuit and promotion of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, and the fight against terrorism. Combating terrorism has become, more than ever, a crucial priority. We have therefore joined international anti-terrorist efforts under the leadership of the United Nations and helped to draft the recent Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism. It is important to address that issue in a concerted way, but above all in a way that at the same time ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. That is crucial to our success.

In the same light, respect for, and promotion of, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue become apparent because misguided action stems from ignorance and lack of knowledge of other cultures and faiths. We therefore continue to support and enhance effective Council of Europe programmes that address those issues and we urge all member states actively to do so.

The transformation of our continent will remain incomplete as long as the last wall dividing Europe stands in Cyprus. Cyprus is primarily an issue of human rights and an issue for the Council of Europe. Properties have been confiscated. Refugees are unable to return to their homes. Basic human rights are being breached on European territory. Greece remains steadfastly committed to reaching a just and viable solution for the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the compatibility with EU principles.

Cyprus’s EU membership and accession negotiations with Turkey have created a new framework, which could prove instrumental in reaching a comprehensive settlement. In every respect, this is a framework within which European values must be fully respected and good neighbourly relations and the renunciation of violence are indispensable.

I want to say a few words on developments in South-Eastern Europe. Following a decade of ethnic conflict and crisis, the political and economic situation has improved considerably. Accession to the Council of Europe has contributed significantly in achieving desired progress. Democratic governments are in place, and free and fair elections are being held throughout the region.

Individual countries are now moving, each at its own pace, from reconstruction to sustainable growth. They have all demonstrated that they consider their European perspective their highest priority. Two of those countries, Bulgaria and Romania, joined the EU as new members on 1 January. Again, our Organisation played a key role in their European perspective. The same two countries have been full members of NATO since 2004 while another three – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia – established institutional relations with the Partnership for Peace Programme at the Riga Summit.

The Council of Europe continues to play a crucial role in the European perspective of those countries, as well as in that of Albania, Croatia and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. However, there still remains a great deal to be achieved and a number of lingering or pending issues remain to be settled.

As we are all aware, a major political issue that bears significantly on the stability and security of the region is the future status of Kosovo. Since February 2006, UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari has been leading the political process, whose aim is to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the issue.

Both sides should pursue talks in a constructive way, but it is crucial – indeed, essential for peace in the area – that the solution be mutually acceptable to them. Greece has consistently supported the fact that such a solution can be reached only through negotiation and respect for international law; respect for the multi-ethnic and multicultural character of Kosovo; support for the European and Euro-Atlantic perspective of Serbia; and respect for, and the preservation of, the Orthodox cultural heritage in Kosovo.

Multilaterally, Greece actively contributed to the promotion of regional stability and security in Kosovo during its presidency of the South East European Co-operation Process, as a member of the UN Security Council in 2005 and 2006, and as a member of the EU. Greece participated in Operation Joint Enterprise, with the involvement of 560 military personnel and equipment. Financially, we contributed almost €78 million between 2002 and 2004. We also contributed €450 000, as well as a special grant of €100 000 via UNESCO in 2005, towards programmes and actions, that were implemented in the area.

In the region of South-Eastern Europe, Greece is pursuing an active multi-dimensional and constructive presence. Our objective is to maintain peace and stability throughout the region. We therefore support the Euro-Atlantic perspective of neighbouring countries and strengthen bilateral co-operation with our neighbours in the region at all levels. In that context, we consider the implementation of all criteria and requirements to be of paramount importance, with particular emphasis on respect for human rights, building democratic institutions, the rule of law, tolerance and reconciliation, as well as good neighbourliness and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

In the context of pursuing enhanced and strong bilateral relations with all our neighbours, as well as regional stability, Greece has supported the European Council decision to grant candidate status to “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. That support is not unconditional. The EU has set certain requirements, among which are regional co-operation and good neighbourly relations. Greece, as a neighbour of that country, attaches particular importance to those requirements. They also entail reaching a mutually acceptable solution on the main issue through the ongoing negotiations under the auspices of the UN. In this process, there is no place for unilateral provocative actions.

The economic and financial dimension of our involvement in the area is of particular importance. Four years ago, Athens introduced an economic plan for the reconstruction of the region, aiming to create investment opportunities and develop commercial exchanges between Greece and the states of South-Eastern Europe. The first results are already visible. Greek investment contributes to the development of the economies of the countries in the region. A total of 3 000 Greek companies have invested no less than €14 billion in South-Eastern Europe over the past fifteen years, creating more than 200 000 new jobs. To take the banking sector as an example, more than 1 000 branches of Greek banks currently operate in the region. The volume of trade between Greece and the countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Turkey, amounts to more than $6 billion, and the trend is upward.

European integration, especially in its broad sense, is a subtle and complex process, requiring much hard work and concerted effort, but above all it requires political will, vision and time. It is not only the Council of Europe and the European Union that must direct all their efforts towards that common goal; every single member state must do its utmost. The task may be daunting but, since the end of the Second World War, from the ravages of which the Council of Europe emerged, it has been the only choice. A truly integrated Europe is a fundamental prerequisite for ensuring the unconditional prevalence of human rights, democracy and the rule of law on our continent. It is also, perhaps, key to their eventual prevalence throughout the world. Thank you very much for your attention.


Thank you, Prime Minister, for your very interesting speech. We will now proceed to questions. Twenty-two members of the Assembly have indicated that they wish to ask questions. I remind them that questions must be limited to thirty seconds, and colleagues should ask questions, not make speeches. I will allow supplementary questions only at the end and only if time allows. The first question is from Mr Van den Brande.


Prime Minister, you are a convinced European, but there are not two Europes. When we are talking about democratic standards, we must refer to the Council of Europe. I have two questions. How will you support Mrs Merkel in her aim to achieve a good constitution? How will you completely support the Juncker report while you are not only wearing your hat as a European Union member state but fulfilling your responsibility as a full member of the Council of Europe?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

Let me start by answering the second question, as I touched on that issue in my speech. I share the Assembly’s view that the memorandum of understanding should reflect as many of the recommendations set out in the report as possible, and we will continue actively to support that position. At the same time, we need to achieve consensus at the Committee of Ministers, which is, as you know, often a difficult task with 46 member states.

Furthermore, one must also take into account the views of the European Commission and the European Council. It is regrettable that progress in drafting the memorandum has stalled, not least because accession to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is vital for the European Union. The Council of Europe must not only maintain but strengthen its foothold in the institutional framework of Europe in the 21st century.

An effective relationship between the Council of Europe and the European Union is, as has been said, crucial to the successful completion of the European Union structure. The possibilities and prospects for closer complementary relations between the Union and the Council are vast, and Prime Minister Juncker’s report contains extremely useful proposals. We remain optimistic that the result of our efforts will be positive both for the Council and the Union.

On the first question, we are all well aware of the situation that emerged after the two negative referendum results on the constitutional treaty. We strongly believe that the time has come to renew our efforts. We understand that the reflection period was necessary, and we are willing to be as constructive as we can in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to renew the attempt to find a solution. We respect all the different views – that goes without saying – but a Union of 27 cannot operate or envisage its future using the rules of a Europe of six. It is urgent that we move forward.

Baroness KNIGHT OF COLLINGTREE (United Kingdom)

Prime Minister, thank you for your thoughtful and wide-ranging speech in which you declared a commitment. Have you any plans or suggestions for bringing about an accord to resolve the situation in Cyprus following the Greek residents’ non-acceptance of the Annan plan?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

I will not go back into the history of this matter as I am sure that you all know it. The referendums were held almost three years ago now, and we have to renew our efforts. We are committed, as indeed is the Government of Cyprus, to finding a way to move towards a viable solution to this problem. Under the auspices of the United Nations, and with the constructive engagement of the European Union, which will be necessary as one of the parameters concerns the respect of European values and standards, we will eventually reach that point.

As I said in my speech, the accession of Cyprus to the European Union and Turkey’s European perspective should be seen as helpful to that process.

Mr KOX (Netherlands)

Prime Minister, you told us that you want to go ahead with the European constitution. Yesterday, Prime Minister Verhofstadt from Belgium said the same. He told us that the constitution was needed to build a “United States of Europe” in which qualified majority voting ruled instead of unanimity. Do you share his ideas, or does the Greek Government take a different position?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

As you know, we are a big family. We share basic goals, but that does not mean that everybody is in line on every issue. There are different views about the future of Europe. We believe that the process towards political integration is favourable and we support it. There are other views as well. We understand that Europe, by definition, has a milieu of consensus and compromise. Some fifty years after its inception, Europe has been a success story. We should do our utmost to make it a success story in the years to come.

You mentioned majority voting. We must be careful to respect sensitivities when we consider movements in that direction. Essentially, a Europe with 27 members cannot operate under the rules of its initial members. This complicated issue must be considered with great care. However, we all understand that a family of 27 – the number might be higher in the years to come – cannot operate only by full consensus.

Mr MEALE (United Kingdom)

May I return to the subject of Cyprus? Do you agree that it is relevant, as we seek a solution, for the files on the people who are still missing following the illegal invasion in 1974 to be made public? Why do 40 000 Turkish troops continue to occupy Cyprus? Do you think that those troops should be removed before Turkey is invited to join our European family?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

The question of the missing persons remains of primary importance for the living relatives and the Governments of Cyprus and Greece. We firmly believe that the circumstances in which the missing persons disappeared must be fully disclosed. As you are probably aware, a committee on the missing persons is operating under the auspices of the United Nations. However, despite the Turkish side’s commitment to take concrete steps towards a resolution, including under the framework of the UN committee, there have been no tangible results so far. We sincerely hope that Turkey will display the necessary will to engage constructively in a resolution of the problem.

I said in my speech that the ongoing division of Cyprus and the presence of military forces was politically, morally and logically unacceptable in the 21st century. We are trying to do our best to find a just and viable solution and we will also try to find a way to keep the process moving. We think that engaging Turkey in the European cause will prove to be constructive, although there are wildly different views about that in Europe. However, Turkey’s reform and external behaviour will be positively influenced as it gradually adopts European standards of behaviour and develops a European perspective. Of course, our policy is not unconditional. I can summarise it in a brief statement: full compliance, full accession.


Mr Prime Minister, you have a role to play in the peace and stability of South-Eastern Europe. You know that Serbia has paid a heavy price for the settlement in the new Balkan area. Nevertheless, the Kosovo issue must be handled with the full knowledge of our peninsula’s history. Do you believe that imposing solutions can bring about a fair, steady and prosperous future for not only the Serbs and Albanians, but neighbouring countries?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

The basic goal must be to promote and guarantee the stability of the region, which historically has been characterised by friction and conflict – even, unfortunately, in its most recent past. We must respect the realities, yet determine how we can bring about stability and peace in the region.

We support Martti Ahtisaari’s proposals, which are of great interest. Any solution should be acceptable to all sides and the product of a negotiation. We do not believe that an imposed solution could be workable. Any consideration of the situation must be combined with a European perspective on the region. The status of Kosovo and the situation there must be part of a European edifice. At the same time, we strongly believe that Serbia must be offered a clear European perspective.

Mr IWIŃSKI (Poland)

Due to its geographical position, Greece faces enormous problems due to legal and illegal migration. By and large, that is one of the crucial challenges for the whole of Europe and our Organisation. There has been talk for several years of creating a structure to improve the management of migration, which has been supported by Greek members of parliament, among others. Will you confirm, Mr Karamanlis, that Greece is ready to host such a European migration observatory on its territory?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

You tempt me to give a one-word answer: yes. However, let me offer a few comments.

As Greece lies in South-Eastern Europe, at the border of the Union, it is faced with the daunting challenge of addressing strong migratory flows. It is thus natural that my government attaches great importance to making migration issues a high priority. We participate in all relevant forums, and our extensive expertise in the field suggests that there is ample margin to improve co-operation among national and international migration policies throughout Europe. Migration is linked to one of the highest priorities in the Council of Europe: the promotion of social cohesion. We are convinced that this Organisation, as the only truly pan-European body on the continent, has an important role to play in this context. That is why, together with the Parliamentary Assembly, we continue to support the idea of setting up a European migration observatory agency under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Such a body would co-operate directly with the European Union. Last but not least, Greece has offered – we insist on this – to host the agency. We are aware of the Council of Europe’s budgetary constraints, but we believe that migration issues, especially this project, merit further consideration and discussion.

Mr NAMI (Cyprus)

On the question of missing persons, some exhumations and DNA tests have been performed. Progress is being made and the Annan plan would have addressed some of the issues you have raised, Mr Prime Minister. We are left with two tasks. We must end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and we must reach a comprehensive settlement under the auspices of the UN. You have referred to the second matter, but how will you address the first?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

I should point out that the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community is the outcome of Turkey’s invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus. When Cyprus became a member of the EU in 2004, the issue arose in terms of the application of the acquis in the occupied areas. In April 2004, it was decided to adopt measures to help the Turkish Cypriot community facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging economic development. To this end, the EU put in force two regulations: the green line regulation, which provided for trade arrangements between the occupied and free areas of the island; and the financial regulation, which set a framework for channelling EU funds to the Turkish Cypriot community for its development and structural projects. In addition, the draft trade regulation is under discussion and the presidency is holding a consultation with the Cypriot Government and the Turkish Cypriot community.

We understand that these are complex and thorny issues concerning the occupied territory of a member state of the EU. The three regulations are a step in the right direction, provided that our common objective remains the reunification of Cyprus and they are complementary to the overall political solution sought in the UN framework.

It is also crucial to point out that the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus must be safeguarded. As regards the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community, I remind the Assembly that the United Nations, under Resolutions 541 and 550, has called on all states not to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and not to facilitate or in any way assist the aforementioned secessionist entity.

Greece supports the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community and it is expedient for me to stress that per capita income in the occupied areas has tripled over the last couple of years following the implementation of the EU financial regulation involving almost €260 million. The green line regulation has also helped the Turkish Cypriot community.


I wish to ask about the removal of Greek citizenship from more than 46 000 Greeks of Turkish origin following the removal of Article 19 from the Greek nationality code. I know that you have taken some steps, but you have not taken enough. Is your government prepared to return Greek citizenship to those individuals and end their tragedy?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

Let me stress that Greece is a democracy and operates under the rule of law. All citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation or belief, are treated equally by the state and their rights are fully respected.

On the specific issue, in 1998 the Greek Government abolished Article 19 of the Greek nationality code. That article referred to all those persons of non-Greek origin who abandoned Greek territory with no intention to return. Many of those did so of their own free will and renounced Greek nationality. The article applied to all persons with Greek nationality, not only those belonging to the Muslim minority. The number of stateless Muslims remaining in Thrace is about 20. They have been given special identity cards in accordance with the UN convention relating to stateless persons and they are in the process of acquiring Greek citizenship.


Before I use up my entire thirty seconds, allow me to welcome our Prime Minister to our plenary session. All members of the Greek delegation are happy to host you as you share your message with colleagues from the 46 member states of the Council of Europe. My question is a difficult one, but I know that you enjoy addressing challenging questions. Last year, I had the honour of visiting Moscow representing you and working with the Duma and the Council of Europe on democratising political parties, as the most effective instrument for encouraging democracy. As a young and modern party leader and a leading personality within a large European political group, what initiatives would you like to undertake to promote the full democratisation of Europe and of European political parties?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

Do not forget that I am also a parliamentarian. I know what it feels like to enjoy the ability to express one’s personal view; on the other hand, I know what it is like to have to fulfil the duties necessary to gain a majority within one’s party to make a decision. Which is more important in pushing forward the implementation of government policy?

This is an important challenge in terms of party-based democracy and with sincere good will and dialogue we can achieve the ends we seek. This is about cohesive parties adopting collective decisions. All democratic institutions safeguard the personal freedom of parliamentarians and party-based decision making. Bridging that gap is our responsibility. Our duty is to respect the other’s viewpoint.

Mrs İNCEKARA (Turkey)

With reference to minorities, the use of the word “Turkish” in terms of the minority in western Thrace is prohibited and the use by NGOs of the same word in their titles is banned. Mr Prime Minister, do you intend to change this policy of denial? If so, when?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

If I understand the question correctly, in the 1980s the Supreme Court was asked to proceed with the dissolution of an association called the Turkish Union. First, it referred to Turkey, with the clear implication of the existence of a Turkish minority in Greece, contrary to the provision of the Treaty of Lausanne, which provided for a Muslim minority. Also, Article 8 of its statute mentioned, among other things, that the objective of the organisation was to spread cultural, social and religious reforms as established by the Turkish revolution, which would mean the promotion of the political objectives of another country. The Supreme Court pronounced itself in favour of dissolving that association.

Greece is a democratic society with full respect for all human and minority rights. At the same time, Greece abides by the rule of law and honours and respects international law and its international commitments, including the Treaty of Lausanne.

Mr VRETTOS (Greece) (interpretation)

said that the Greek Government supported the accession route of Turkey into the European Union. However, the Government of Turkey was not allowing its ports and airports to be used by the Cypriot state. By doing so it was infringing its own obligations and commitments ahead of accession. Did Mr Karamanlis plan to veto the accession of Turkey on this basis; and if not, what was his policy on the matter?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

It seems a little strange to answer in English a question asked in Greek. We have a broad, bipartisan approach in Greece that involves the two major parties. On Turkey and Europe, we believe that Turkey has not fulfilled the obligations and commitments that it made in its contract with Europe. We believe that last December’s decision by the European Council was positive, because it sent Turkey a clear-cut message that the European Union is not satisfied by the progress achieved in the promotion of reforms and in the implementation of the requirements agreed by Turkey in its contract with Europe.

On the other hand, we believe that Turkey must be engaged in the European process. As I have said, our policy is encapsulated in this phrase: full compliance, full accession. We believe in a policy that offers Turkey the incentive to develop, to reform and gradually to become European not only in name, but in the way in which it operates its political system and in the way in which it behaves throughout the world and towards its neighbours.

Mrs MITREVA (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”)

Thank you, Mr President. I thank you for your support for the European integration of my country, the Republic of Macedonia.

Developing good neighbourly relations is our common goal. However, Mr Prime Minister, do you agree that we have to find a rational solution to an irrational and imposed problem, the name issue? Until now, all the concessions have been made by the Macedonian side – the constitution, the flag and the double formula. We accepted the last proposal by Ambassador Niemitz, which was made in autumn 2005, as a good basis for finding a solution within the United Nations process. Mr Prime Minister, I am aware that you have an audience sensitive to symbols and history. But for citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, the name of our country is much more than that.

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

I think that I made my policy and approach plain in my initial statement. I will not get into history, because everyone has their own views. I myself am a Macedonian, and another 2.5 million Greeks are Macedonians, so the question cannot be considered unilaterally. None the less, we are bound by certain specific commitments, one of which is the interim accord of ten years or so ago. Another commitment is the conditions under which the European Union has constructed the European process for “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, which, among other things, entails good neighbourly relations. Since the negotiation process started under the auspices of the United Nations, both sides are committed to achieving a mutually acceptable solution on the remaining question of the name.

Greece, and in particular me and my government, has taken a major step forward in finding the common ground for a mutually acceptable solution. I say firmly and openly that we expect “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” side to respond to that policy, but, unfortunately, we have not seen that. Indeed, we have seen acts that are not helpful in creating a constructive climate in which to reach a solution. We are dealing with an issue which is one aspect of our bilateral relationship. I have no trouble in stating that we have strong co-operation on many issues. Greece is the No. 1 trade partner and investor in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. We strongly support the integrity of that country, and we have strong co-operation in the tourist domain.

We support “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s” Euro-Atlantic aspirations and, in particular, the European perspective, but that comes with the condition that we find a mutually acceptable solution. That is a moderate and sane policy that is in accordance with international law, international treaties and the common understanding among all of us who want to see such problems resolved peacefully.


The two issues that need to be solved in order to resolve the Cyprus problem concern demilitarisation and guarantees. Turkey’s position is that it has the right to intervene unilaterally, as it did in 1974. Cyprus is a member of the European Union, and I would like to know your position on this issue.

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

I believe very strongly that the solution we are all inclined to seek will eventually resolve the remaining problem on the continent – the Cyprus problem – in full accordance with UN Security Council resolutions but also with European values and standards. In that sense, it is of course out of the question that a European country will have on its soil the military presence of another country – at least permanently.


Mr Prime Minister, our Assembly strongly supports international efforts to fight terrorism, but at the same time we strongly hold the view that countries must do that while fully respecting human rights and the rule of law. Greece had serious problems with terrorist groups which managed to fight more or less successfully during past years. With Greece’s experiences in mind, do you think that the world can successfully fight terrorism while fully respecting human rights?

Mr Karamanlis, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

I fully believe that. The only effective policy – not only my government’s policy but that of governments throughout Europe in all societies that share similar values about democracy, human rights and the rule of law – must be based on a combination of having the political will and resolution to fight uncompromisingly against terrorism while at the same time fully respecting all the priorities and principles of a democratic and open society and human rights. If we make the mistake of bending the rules of law a little or letting them subside, we may in essence be playing the game of the terrorists.


We must now conclude questions to Mr Karamanlis. On behalf of the Assembly, I thank you most warmly for your important speech and for your answers to questions. That shows, once again, that this Parliamentary Assembly is unique in that members from all parts of Europe can directly address questions to a guest speaker. You have made a great contribution to this debate. Thank you very much for coming here and answering questions.