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President Papadopoulos returns from Athens
2003-04-17 14:49:22

Larnaca, Apr 17 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos described the signing of the Accession Treaty with the European Union as a historic moment for Cyprus.

President Papadopoulos returned tonight from Athens where yesterday he signed the treaty, together with Foreign Minister George Iacovou. The leaders of nine other European countries also signed the Accession Treaty with the EU.

Papadopoulos noted that Cyprus (as the other nine countries) becomes a full-fledged member of the EU in May 2004.

He said of yesterday's signing: “it is the most historic moment since the island’s independence (from British colonial rule in 1960), and I believe I express the feelings of the whole of the people by saying we welcome this historic moment with hope and aspirations for a Cyprus future with peace, welfare and security”.

Papadopoulos told the press at Larnaca Airport that he received no indication from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was also in Athens, as to when he intends to resume talks for a Cyprus settlement based on his plan.

The Cypriot President said “I reiterated our readiness to resume the dialogue, with the hope that a solution to the Cyprus problem will be found”.

To a question if Annan had indicated when he will resume his efforts based on his peace plan, President Papadopoulos said the Secretary-General “reiterated his view that before he undertakes any initiative he wants proof, not indications, proof that there is a change of political will from both sides”.

To a remark that the Greek Cypriot side has the political will and it is the other side (the Turkish Cypriot), which must prove that, Papadopoulos said, “that’s what I pointed out too (to Annan)”, he added.

Invited to comment on the Turkish reaction as well as the absence of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul from the signing of the Accession Treaty yesterday, Papadopoulos said he did not think it was important, neither it was a surprise for anyone.

"Turkey has a long-standing position on Cyprus, it does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. For me it was natural, and I do not attach any significance to it, it is their problem, not ours”, he remarked.

Regarding Greek Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis' 24-hour visit to Cyprus beginning tomorrow night, Papadopoulos said the talks agenda was ready, adding they would discuss "all aspects and prospects”.

On the measures, which the government intends to announce for Turkish Cypriots, Papadopoulos said the Cabinet would discuss them and then with the EU presidency to “see if they are compatible with the acquis communautaire”.

Then there will be deliberations with Turkish Cypriot parties and will be announced “when we are ready to implement them the same day”, he concluded.|

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island’s territory.



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