The President of the European Council, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday (10 May) that “there has to be equality among the Member States and therefore we must establish rules to ensure that no Member State believes it is second-rate”.
Simitis was speaking at a joint press conference with his Czech counterpart Vladimir Spidla in Prague, eleventh stop on his tour of European capitals.
Talks between the two leaders centred on preparations for the Thessaloniki European Council, with emphasis on the main issues on the agenda, namely the proposals of the Convention on the new Constitutional Treaty, the policies on migration and illegal immigration, as well as international developments and in particular the situation in Iraq and the Middle East problem.
Simitis noted that the Thessaloniki European Council was being called upon to answer crucial questions, such as how the Union will become more effective, how it will be democratic and accepted by its citizens, and lastly, how the EU will function on a growth trajectory, while at the same time applying the criterion of further improving the living standards and quality of life of its citizens.
Replying to a question on the visit by Turkish Prime minister Recep Erdogan to the occupied part of Cyprus, Simitis said that the Cyprus problem was not a problem between the two communities, but one of occupation of part of the island by the Turkish army. He reiterated Greece’s position that the problem must be resolved in accordance with the principles of international law and within the framework of the UN on the initiative of the Secretary-General. In addition, he called on Turkey to take the decision to accept the Annan plan and state its readiness to acknowledge it as a basis for negotiation.
Lastly, the Greek Prime minister congratulated the Czech people and political leadership on the successful outcome of their efforts to gain accession to the EU.
Spidla said the two leaders had examined a number of key issues in view of the Thessaloniki European Council, adding that the Czech Republic was in favour of the principle of “one country – one Commissioner”.
The Czech premier expressed his appreciation for the contribution of the Greek Presidency and its handling of affairs throughout the crisis which broke out with regard to developments in Iraq.