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09/04/2005 00:29 Local Time 
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Thessaloniki European Council (19-21/6/03): Statements by Foreign Minister George Papandreou to journalists before the European summit

Europe is changing and Greece, both as holder of the EU presidency and as a Member State, wishes to contribute to efforts for the creation of a democratic and strong Europe, Foreign Minister George Papandreou told journalists during a visit to the Press Centre shortly before the opening of the European Council in Chalkidiki.

Replying to a question on the compromise draft of the European Constitution, Papandreou said “we cannot but take into consideration the work of the Convention during the Intergovernmental Conference”. He described the work of the Convention as “laborious, difficult and very notable”, while underlining the “great importance” of the role of the Convention, which involved a process of cooperation between Community and national institutions, as well as civil society.

On the issue of migration, Papandreou noted that the Greek Presidency was endeavouring to shift the discussion from the issue of protecting the external borders of the EU to the instituting of a new approach regarding which, once a year, the implementation of the joint policy on migration will be evaluated in a Commission report. Regarding the proposal on the distribution of the relevant expenditures, Papandreou acknowledged that certain countries had reservations, while referring with emphasis to the meeting of the summit of European Diasporas, which is being held in parallel with the Thessaloniki European Council. On the British proposal concerning a procedure for handling asylum requests, Papandreou observed that “the issue remains open”, given that it was a “controversial proposal” which “has provoked reactions”.

Lastly, expressing support for “the Presidency’s Balkan proposal”, the “Thessaloniki agenda”, Papandreou stressed that its adoption and implementation would consolidate security in the region, while in reply to questions he underlined that Turkey “must speed up its adoption of the package of reforms and the implementation of the relevant provisions”.

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