Greece Lashes Out at EU Proposal to Fund Turkey

ATHENS (Reuters)–Greece accused the European Commission on Thursday of setting a double standard for Turkey and vowed to fight proposals to release EU funds to its eastern neighbor which effectively bypass a Greek veto.

"We will react to any such attempt," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters. "Greece has the same rights as all other European Union countries and it will exercise them."

Greece–long at odds with Turkey over rights in the Aegean Sea and the divided island of Cyprus–charges that Ankara should not receive EU financial assistance while it is acting aggressively towards an EU member.

The Commission–the EU’s executive–proposed on Wednesday a new three-year financial aid package for Turkey worth 150 million Ecus ($180 million)–that would effectively bypass a Greek veto standing since 1996.

Greece promptly said it would challenge the move.

"We will take the European Commission to the European Court. This will be done immediately and without delay," the Greek foreign ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Under the proposal–135 million Ecus of the aid would be granted under a provision giving Turkey developing country status–allowing the proposal to be agreed by qualified majority and making it possible to overcome Greek objections.

Athens has used its veto in EU ministerial meetings to block aid that was supposed to help Turkey adapt to a customs union with the 15-nation EU.

Reppas said it was contradictory for the EU to invite Turkey to join on one hand and then offer it financial help as a developing country on the other.

He said that–beyond taking the issue to court–Greece would also fight it on a diplomatic front through the European Parliament and bilateral relations.


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