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Papandreou says Cyprus question now an EU problem
2003-05-27 11:53:37

by Gregory Savva-- Heraclion, May 27 (CNA) - Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the EU Ministers' Council George Papandreou said today that the Cyprus question was now an EU problem and was being examined by all European institutions.

Replying to questions on the sidelines of the EuroMediterranean Conference in Crete, Papandreou said one should not search for specific initiatives to solve the Cyprus problem, as a settlement was ''a continuous procedure that has a natural ending''.

Invited by CNA to say whether he would support the appointment of a European envoy for the Cyprus problem, Papandreou said he did not know if that was necessary, adding that earlier, when the Cyprus problem was forgotten by the international community, the EU had appointed an observer.|

''Let us not search for specific initiatives. It is a continuous procedure, which logically will have a natural ending'', Papandreou said, adding that ''if we all want to assist the European course of the wider region and of course Turkey, I believe there will be a natural ending to the whole issue''.

He said the Cyprus problem today was ''not a separate issue but a fundamental matter within the EU, thus all institutions are monitoring it''.

To a comment that the EU was not showing the same movement on the Cyprus problem as it was on the Palestinian question, Papandreou said the EU is involved in the Cyprus issue more than the EuroMediterranean Conference, because the island will soon be a full member of the Union.

''It is not an issue of initiatives only. It is a matter of continuous efforts to solve the problem and I am sure that the EU is focused on UN decisions and the effort to reach a settlement'', he added.

Commenting on the dismissal by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash of a set of EU measures to support the Turkish Cypriots before they were even announced, Papandreou suggested patience until they are publicised early next month in order to see the reactions.

These measures are ''proof of the initiatives the EU is taking'' towards a settlement, Papandreou said, adding that more such initiatives will follow.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.


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