Simitis: we want adjustment of solution to EU principles
Nicosia, Apr 19 (CNA) -- Greek Prime Minister and current President of the European Council Costas Simitis stressed here today that a political settlement in Cyprus should be consistent with the acquis communautaire, and indicated that now conditions are more conducive to achieving this objective.
Speaking at a joint press conference after talks with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, he said that Greece and Cyprus are seeking improvements to a UN peace proposal on a comprehensive settlement to render the state that would emerge more functional.
Simitis expressed the view that a strong Cyprus, within the EU, would help the Republic deal more effectively with other issues that concern it.
Asked if certain provisions in the UN proposal have actually been overtaken by events, through the accession of Cyprus to the EU, Simitis said that ''each day creates some new circumstances that must be taken into consideration but it would be rather risky to say that now one or the other provision cannot be applied.''
''Nonetheless I believe that the possibilities are now better'' than in the past, he added.
Asked how the UN peace proposal can become more compatible with the acquis communautaire, Simitis said ''the plan is a basis for negotiations, some issues are regulated in such a way that we believe should be improved to render the solution more viable and make the state function more effectively.''
''We believe that there could be an improvement of arrangements relating to the implementation of the acquis communautaire and as we have said in the past, we shall seek in any future negotiations to have such improvements,'' Simitis explained.
Improved application of the acquis communautaire will ensure better integration of Cyprus into EU processes, he explained, stressing that ''this is why we want an adjustment of the solutions to the acquis communautaire.''
''One must not think that a system can work within the EU if this system does not have the same principles, the same arrangements and the same directions as those of the EU,'' Simitis explained.
''I would like to point out that as of Wednesday (when Cyprus signed the Accession Treaty in Athens) there are plenty of problems that affect Cyprus, relate to the EU, which will play a role in formulating a policy of Cyprus which should concern us all, such as funds, resources and labour policy,'' Simitis noted.
He said that ''the political question of Cyprus has now been placed in a wider framework, and here in Cyprus we have to be careful of this because if Cyprus becomes a strong partner, through initiatives, with opinions, for example on Mediterranean issues, then Cyprus can facilitate to a great extent its position on other issues.''
Simitis dismissed Turkish Cypriot claims that Cyprus' accession is illegal, pointing out that it does not contradict existing treaties and stressing that the continuation of the current division and occupation is illegal.
Commenting on the same claims, President Papadopoulos said that the EU has examined these claims three times and rejected them as unfounded legally and politically.
''As for the Turkish Cypriots I have said repeatedly that we want to see them participate through a reunited Cyprus in the benefits the Union will offer our country,'' he said.
Replying to questions, Simitis said he does not intend to call on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to assume new initiatives on Cyprus and said political will for a solution must exist before any moves are made.
''We shall act in a way to create a better climate and show to the other side that its positions lead to deadlock and create the conviction that a solution can be achieved, we need to change the environment for the better,'' he added.
Simitis said in the effort to find a settlement there are some important landmarks, such as 1 May 2004 when Cyprus formally joins the EU, and said pressure for solution as time passes will increase.
''As time passes Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will begin to feel the need to create the preconditions that would enable them to achieve other goals, relating to the start of accession negotiations,'' between Ankara and the EU, Simitis said.
Asked if he thought Turkey and Greece should be more involved in the peace process, the premier said that the island's two communities should have the initiative to discuss the solution, a discussion that will bear fruit only if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash accepts the key elements of the Annan plan.
On the use of Turkish as an EU language, Simitis said the EU will decide on that when there is a solution in Cyprus.
A joint communique, read by Simitis after the talks, said that the two leaders ''reviewed the question of Cyprus, following the collapse of the UN-led talks, and we agreed on our future steps, how to handle the issue.''
''We reiterated our joint adherence to the search for a peaceful solution through negotiations and stressed that we both consider a UN peace proposal as basis for negotiations to find a workable and viable solution in line with UN resolutions and the principles on which the EU is founded,'' it said.
''We underlined our support to the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General and expressed our view that the accession of Cyprus to the EU will contribute substantially to making headway towards a solution,'' the two heads of state noted.
''We both believe that the present stalemate in the peace effort as well as the continuation of the current unacceptable situation are due to delaying tactics on the part of the Turkish and the Turkish Cypriot sides,'' the communique said.
If these two sides, particularly the Turkish Cypriot side continues its intransigent stance, it will prevent a settlement and the reunification of Cyprus and it will also deny the Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to benefit from the prosperity which accession to the EU will bring, it remarked.
Both leaders expressed hope ''that the Turkish government will review its policy in a fundamental way and that it will understand that it is in its own interests to solve the Cyprus question as soon as possible.''
''The solution of the problem will facilitate relations between Athens and Ankara and will help Turkey's course for European integration and it will create stability and security in the region,'' it said.
''We stressed the need to intensify our efforts so that by 1 May 2004 Cyprus will be in a position to implement the acquis communautaire and be aligned with all its contractual obligations towards the Union,'' it said.
Simitis said that Papadopoulos briefed him on government policy towards the Turkish Cypriots and in particular the first package of measures the government intends to announce to improve living conditions of the Turkish Cypriot community and safeguard the rights and benefits emanating from the EU for the Turkish Cypriots.
The two leaders agreed on their positions with regard to Iraq and the situation in the Middle East and on joint initiatives to help boost security and stability.|
Simitis addressed an extraordinary session of the House of Representatives and leaves later this evening.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY