According to Greek foreign minister's statement, Turkey entry into EU would help stabilize region

Greece's foreign minister renewed support on Monday for Turkey's bid to join the European Union, arguing it would help stabilize relations between the two traditional rivals and benefit the region.

"Greece steadfastly supports Turkey's course toward Europe ... We want negotiations to start, and to start today," Petros Molyviatis told private Alpha radio.

European Union foreign ministers delayed a ceremony scheduled for Monday afternoon to mark the start of Ankara's membership negotiations, with Austria refusing to back down from its insistence that Turkey be offered something less than full membership if it cannot meet entry criteria.

Greece and Turkey are at odds over war-divided Cyprus and disputed boundaries in the Aegean Sea, and have come close to war three times since 1974. Athens argues that Turkey's EU accession would help soothe those long-standing disputes, the AP reports.

"We believe a European Turkey, a country which has adapted to the standards and values of Europe, would be good for the Turkish people and would be especially good for the Greek people _ helping stability, peace and prosperity across the region," Molyviatis said. AM

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