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Papadopoulos says UN memorandum can be negotiated
2003-02-24 19:42:48

by Maria Myles -- Athens, Feb 24 (CNA) -- President-elect of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos believes that a UN memorandum, on points made during his recent discussions in the context of the UN-led peace talks, can be negotiated further and said that he has had a ''very substantive and very useful'' meeting here in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis with whom he discussed the memorandum.

Simitis expressed the view that there is very little, if any, room to achieve a negotiated settlement in Cyprus within the time framework as this has been defined, which calls for an agreement by the end of February, a referendum on the agreement by the end of March and the signing by a united Cyprus of the country's accession treaty in April.

The Greek Prime Minister assured that there are no problems with regard to Cyprus' accession course for full EU membership and said he would ask UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to secure the cooperation of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side in reaching the solution that is being sought.

Papadopoulos and Simitis had a 20-minute private conversation prior to the talks between the delegations of the two governments, which lasted just over an hour.|

Speaking after the talks, Simitis said that in order to find a political settlement in Cyprus there must be will on the part of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side, noting that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash remains intransigent.

''Therefore, the room for a successful outcome of these talks through this framework which has been set out is minimal, almost non existent I would say'', Simitis said.

Invited to clarify this assessment in relation to the timeframe, he said ''when I refer to minimal room for success, I do not mean the 28 February, I am talking about the process which culminated on 30 March''.

The UN has asked the two sides in Cyprus to reach agreement by the end of this month and put it to a referendum to the people by the end of March so that a reunited Cyprus can sign the Treaty of Accession.

Simitis reiterated the firm position of the Greek government that the government of Cyprus has ''the initiative on all the issues concerning Cyprus and the solution of the Cyprus question and we the Greek government express our views, we offer support but it is the Cyprus government that leads the developments''.

Referring to Cyprus' accession to the EU, Simitis said that it is progressing smoothly and added ''there is no problem, all documents are being prepared, discussions are progressing at the European Parliament and on 16 April Cyprus will sign the Accession Treaty here in Athens''.

In his opening remarks, Papadopoulos thanked warmly the government and the people of Greece for the support and solidarity they show to Cyprus with regard to the peace effort and the conclusion of the EU membership.

''Once more we reiterated the identity of views and planning for the successful outcome of these negotiations'', the president elect said, adding that he wants to exploit this ''current historic juncture'' in order to see a change in Turkish intransigence and achieve a solution that would be to the benefit of all the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and that would emerge from negotiations in the framework of the proposals of the UN chief, who arrives in Athens tomorrow lunchtime and will be in Cyprus the following day.

Asked if talks will continue on the basis of the UN memorandum, Simitis said he did not expect to discuss with Annan the substance of the points made in the memorandum, as this will be discussed with Cyprus, as it deems appropriate.

''We can talk with Annan about security issues that relate to Greece, we can talk about procedures to be followed and we shall stress that he should exert pressure on the Turkish Cypriot side to contribute in a reasonable manner to a solution and we shall ask him to convince Turkey that it cannot hide behind Denktash and avoid promoting a settlement in Cyprus'', Simitis said.

Replying to the same question, Papadopoulos said ''the memorandum that has been given to me is for further negotiation in Nicosia, if we wish to do that, with the negotiating team and Alvaro de Soto (Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus) and this will take place today and tomorrow and of course with the meeting with Annan in Nicosia, if he wants to discuss with me the same points''.

This, he pointed out, is the meaning of negotiations.

Asked if he was ready to sign the UN memorandum, Papadopoulos said a proposal could not be judged by individual points, it has to be looked at in its entirety.

Later today, Papadopoulos will meet leaders of the political parties here and tomorrow morning, before leaving, he is to meet Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou.


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