Greece, set to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union, vowed on 18 December to boost the Union’s international presence, reinvigorate its economy and improve its immigration policy.
Presenting the Presidency's five priorities, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said that in the wake of the historic Copenhagen summit agreement to enlarge the Union, the aim was to ""build a community that reflects our shared values and is capable of projecting them on the world stage". However, in this context Papandreou cautioned against "creating new borders and walls in Europe" after the 10 new states' accession.
Greece, which has also outlined its Presidency aims at two lunch events organised by Burson-Marsteller and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels earlier this week, aims to stick to the Copenhagen timetable on enlargement, and wants to "move ahead with the pre-accession strategy for Bulgaria and Romania" and to "make progress with a new partnership with Turkey".
The second priority is to meet the objectives set out in Lisbon in 2000 on economic competitiveness, employment, social cohesion and sustainable development. Third, Greece aims to control migration and deal with the problems presented by illegal immigration. "Progress has been made, but we want to complete this", said Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
On Europe's future, Greece's aim is to promote the emergence of "new and effective policies" to boost the Union's "democratic and social face" and "make it more powerful internationally.
The fifth - and key - plank of the Greek Presidency would be foreign policy. "European foreign policy will be at a peak in the coming six months because of Iraq. The Greek Presidency must work hard on the unanimity and the image the EU will project on the issue", according to Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannitsis Tassos.