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Nicosia and Athens determined for a European solution in Cyprus
2003-05-26 18:43:19

by Maria Antouna-- Athens, May 26 (CNA) -- Cyprus and Greece stressed here today their adherence to UN procedures to seek a negotiated settlement of the protracted Cyprus question and pointed out that Cyprus' accession to the European Union would act as a catalyst for a just, viable and functional solution that would emerge from talks on the basis of a UN peace plan submitted by Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis told a press conference after three hours of talks that there is identity of views on how to handle issues of mutual interest and on future moves relating to the Cyprus question and the Republic's accession to the EU.|

Replying to a question, Simitis warned the Greek Cypriot side against undertaking any initiative for the resumption of the UN-led talks, saying such a move would be tantamount to undermining the UN process.

Describing the meeting ''very interesting, useful and particularly friendly'', Simitis said they discussed EU matters and the continuation of the UN peace effort to find a settlement.

''It is our common assessment that the moves Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side have made in the recent past relating to the easing of restrictions on the freedom of movement to and from the island's Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus do not aim at a solution,'' Simitis said.

These moves were made to create an impression and to reduce the pressure the international community is exerting on Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for a solution and to seek recognition of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus, he said.

''These moves also aim at removing the problem of Cyprus away from the UN framework and subsequently gradually taking the issue away from the international arena,'' Simitis added.

He stressed that ''for these reasons Cyprus and Greece adhere to the UN process for a solution, which is the only correct process to achieve this goal.''

''We seek the resumption of the talks within the UN framework on the basis of the Annan plan and Security Council resolution 1475. We want a just, viable and functional solution, that is compatible with the acquis communautaire and EU principles,'' he said.

In brief, he said, ''we want a European solution within the UN framework'', adding that Cyprus' accession should act as the catalyst for a solution.

Referring to measures, mainly of an economic nature, which the Cyprus government announced for the Turkish Cypriots and the EU measures now under discussion, Simitis said they aim to bring Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots closer together and help the Turkish Cypriots approach the EU.

The Greek premier said that Greece would help Cyprus in know-how with regard to the Republic's accession to the EU.

He said bilateral ties are ''excellent in all fields, as always'' and that there is ''very close and productive cooperation and an identity of views on future moves.''

President Papadopoulos agreed with all Simitis said and added that they discussed Cyprus' EU membership and efforts to find a political settlement.

Replying to questions, Simitis said it would be wrong for the Greek Cypriot side to undertake an initiative for the resumption of talks.

He explained that the UN have already put a peace proposal to the two sides in Cyprus, which the Turkish Cypriot side has rejected, and warned that ''if we resume talks without changing the basic feature of the current situation, the effort to have the Turkish Cypriot regime recognised, then we would be led to undermining the UN process.''

''Negotiations should begin when we feel confident that there is a possibility for a positive development, we do not want to be faced with another deadlock'' in the peace effort, he added.

Asked if the Annan plan is consistent with the acquis communautaire, Simitis said Greece and Cyprus are seeking improvements to the plan to render it more compatible with EU rules and regulations.

Human rights, he said, must be respected in Cyprus on the basis of EU and UN principles.

Invited to say what could make Turkey change its tune on Cyprus, Simitis said that Ankara must comply with international law and order and EU principles.

''Turkey should give proof of good will long before the EU summit in December 2004 if it wants to begin membership talks, not on the eve of the summit,'' he said.


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