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Papadopoulos hosts dinner in honour of Simitis
2003-04-18 16:13:40

Nicosia, Apr 18 (CNA) - The historic event of Cyprus' accession to the European Union would not slow down efforts to solve the island's political problem, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said this evening in a speech during a dinner hosted in honour of Greek Prime Minister and President of the European Council Costas Simitis, who arrived here earlier.

The President praised the contribution of Greece and Simitis personally to Cyprus' EU membership, adding that if joining the bloc could contribute towards a settlement, in the UN framework, then this would be the most substantive meaning and contribution of accession.

President Papadopoulos welcomes Simitis to ''European Cyprus'' and expressed ''our gratitude for your personal decisive contribution, for the active support of your government and the substantive assistance of the Greek political forces in the successful conclusion of the joint efforts for the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU''.

He added that he had the privilege to sign the Accession Treaty in Athens two days ago, noting that ''this historic privilege was the result of the efforts of all my predecessors, the House of Representatives, the negotiating team, state officials and above all the people of Cyprus for making sacrifices and paying the price of our harmonisation with the acquis communautaire''.

The President said that the signing of the Accession Treaty ''signaled the successful epilogue of a long effort and the optimistic prologue of a new chapter in the history of Cyprus''.

''The traumatic experiences and consequences of our great national tragedy could not hinder the creative spirit and the systematic effort of our people to meet all the criteria and all the preconditions for our accession to the EU'', he said, adding that ''what remains now is to achieve a solution to our national question''.

He said the solution should not be ''a fragile and dilapidated settlement, but a durable, functional, viable and permanent solution, that will reunite our people and our country and will make the implementation of the acquis communautaire possible throughout the Republic of Cyprus''.

''I stressed two days ago in Athens and I repeat now that our priority is and remains the solution of the Cyprus problem. The historic event of our accession to the EU does not slow down or cut short our efforts to work and cooperate for a solution of our problem'', he added.

He assured that ''our first and main interest is a solution of the Cyprus problem, within the parametres of the Annan plan'', adding that ''if Cyprus' accession to the EU can contribute to this solution, in the context of the UN, this will be the most substantive and the most significant meaning and contribution of the accession political action''.

Referring to the Turkish Cypriots in relation to Cyprus' accession to the EU, President Papadopoulos said ''the sincere wish and the real interest of the Turkish Cypriots stumbled on the anachronistic mentality and harmful intransigence of their leadership and Turkey''.

''The road, of course, has not closed. It remains open. And it awaits our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to be left free to walk with us, so that together we can share the benefits of accession to the EU and to build a common future, in a common and reunited homeland, without the dividing walls and lines, without the stigma of the only divided country in our undivided continent'', he said.

President Papadopoulos praised the contribution of Cypriot Yiannos Kranidiotis, the late Alternate Foreign Minister of Greece, in Cyprus' European course.

The President also praised the contribution of Greece and noted that the success has the ''personal seal'' of Simitis, who was ''the substantive factor of this success''.

Closing his speech, President Papadopoulos said ''we note with emotion the symbolism that, as President of the European Council, you have chosen Cyprus as the first in your visits to the ten countries that signed the Accession Treaty''.|


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