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Simitis arrives in Cyprus saying efforts for settlement continue
2003-04-18 15:57:01

Nicosia, Apr 18 (CNA) - Greek Prime Minister and President of the European Council Costas Simitis arrived in Cyprus tonight, assuring that efforts in the context of the UN to reach a viable solution of the Cyprus problem would continue.

Speaking at Larnaca Airport, Simitis said Cyprus' accession to the EU would be better for all Cypriots ''if we can overcome this bad inheritance of the political problem''.

Welcoming the Greek Prime Minister, President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos said that with his visit to Cyprus Simitis reaffirms the concrete support of Hellenism to the common struggle for the reunification of the people and the island through a functional and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.

President Papadopoulos thanked Simitis, his government and the political world of Greece for their contribution ''in the materialisation of the dream of Cyprus' accession to the EU''.

''As President of the European Council you are visiting Cyprus first and we note this symbolism'', President Papadopoulos said, adding that ''as Prime Minister of Greece you are visiting Cyprus again to reaffirm the concrete support of Hellenism to the common struggle for the reunification of our people and our country through a functional and viable solution of the Cyprus problem''.

He said Simitis' presence on the island ''touches our people and feeds its expectations for a peaceful, safe, European and hopeful future, and our people completely trust your creative breath and contribution Mr. President in building this future, because it considers you the architect of the historic success of accession and the written guarantee of a happy tomorrow for Cyprus and its people''.

Simitis thanked the President and said he was ''very happy to be in Cyprus at this moment'', noting that this was his first stop in his tour of the 24 members of the bloc in the framework of preparations for the Salonica summit.

He said he was in Cyprus ''because two days ago we lived an historic moment, the Republic of Cyprus signed the Accession Treaty with the EU and is now in the European family and takes the place it deserves''.

Simitis said ''this was not easy and I want to congratulate the people of Cyprus for their efforts''.

''Of course, Greece helped and I thank you on behalf of all Greeks for your kind words. But the result was not only the consequence of the Greek presence, it was the consequence of the efforts of the Greek people'', he said.

He added that ''we did not reach this historic point in the present and future of Cyprus easily and without effort''.

Simitis furthermore praised the efforts of Cypriot Yiannos Kranidiotis, the late Alternate Foreign Minister of Greece, as well as all the leaderships of Greece and Cyprus for their efforts in achieving the island's accession to the EU.

He noted that ''the political problem of Cyprus remains unsolved'', adding that ''we, the Cypriot and Greek leadership, made great efforts to be able to solve it and everyone knows why it was not solved and where the responsibility lies for the continuation of an unacceptable situation''.

''So, as President of the European Council and as Prime Minister of Greece, I would like to address the Turkish Cypriot community and reassure it that our efforts in the UN framework to find a viable and functional solution will continue'', he said.

He assured that ''we will not rest because we believe that the future of the island must be a future of cooperation and peace, because we believe that the step the Republic of Cyprus took, with its accession to the EU, will produce better things, will produce for all Cypriots, if we can overcome this bad inheritance of the political problem''.

Simitis said that ''Wednesday meant a great change, a great change in the position of Cyprus, it meant that we moved even closer to a great aim, to overcome the past, and I believe we will achieve it''.|

CNA/AAG/RG/MM/2003

ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
18/04/2003

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