Press Availability Following Meeting With Greek Minister of Defense PapantoniouMarc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
December 5, 2002
Thank you very much Mr. Minister. Thank you for welcoming me here again. I had the chance to meet with the minister some weeks ago, as you remember, and we reviewed some of the issues that we talked about then.
As the minister said, I had the chance to report to brief him on some of my recent travels. Like Greece , we believe, although we are not members of the European Union, that granting Turkey a date for the beginning of their accession talks would be a very important step forward for Europe, for Turkey, and, I would say, for the United States. We believe that there is a very important opportunity for Turkey, the Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, and for Greece, Europe and the United States, on December 12.
As the minister said, we had a chance to talk about Iraq. And I believe that the most important new development since the last time I was here, as the minister said, was the passage, by 15 to nothing, of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. UNSC Resolution 1441 offers a way forward for the disarmament of Iraq without the use of military force. That choice is now up to Iraq. The minister and I agreed that the stronger the international community, the stronger the coalition, the more chance Iraq will recognize that the time has come to meet its obligation to the Security Council.
As our president, as our secretary of state and our secretary of defense have said, our purpose is not to have war on Iraq, itís to have Iraq disarm. Like the minister and like Greece we believe that the stronger the coalition, the more likely we are to achieve that result. And I thank you very much, and with the ministerís permission we will take a question or two.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the wish of the U.S. government is to have in Copenhagen accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU, acceptance of the Annan plan as a basis for negotiation toward a solution, and the setting of a date for the commencement of EU accession talks for Turkey. Are all these going together as a package or is that not essential?
U/S GROSSMAN: We believe that there is an opportunity on December 12 to achieve all three of those goals. You can call it a package or not, thatís a word that you used. We support Cyprusís accession to the European Union, we support the Secretary Generalís efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, we support the European Unionís very courageous decision in Helsinki in 1999, and, yes sir, we support a date for Turkey.
My proposition to you is that all of these things can happen on the 12th of December, and thatís what we are working to achieve.
QUESTION: Good evening. My question is if Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side do not take steps forward based on the Annan plan, will the U.S. continue to support a date for Turkey in Copenhagen?
U/S GROSSMAN: With respect, I think Iíll have to argue with the premise of your question. We are working, and I believe the government of Greece is working as well, not to find out what people wonít do, but to find out what people will do. So, we can speculate on many different outcomes, but what we wish is the outcome that I have described to your colleague.