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Papandreou says Turkey's EU course could help Cyprus settlement
2003-06-19 14:02:39

by Rebekah Gregoriades -- Porto Carras, Jun 19 (CNA) -- Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou said today that Turkey's European prospect could be used to solve the Cyprus problem and noted that both Greece and Turkey view the latter's European course as a new tool in their relations. He added that the fact that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots have come closer together in a more positive context was helping towards ironing out differences.

Speaking during a visit to the Press Centre in Port Carras, where the Salonica European Council begins later this afternoon, Papandreou said ''we are very positive towards recent developments in Turkey on the reform package" and noted that ''we would like to see this reform package further developed and of course implemented to the fullest''.

He added that ''this is a positive message and at the same time we will be following and supporting the European prospects of Turkey both as a presidency now and later again as a member state''.

Asked whether the Cyprus issue was a criterion for the advancement of Turkey's European prospects, Papandreou said ''it is in the Accession Partnership, it is in the roadmap''.

''This is not a theoretical issue, this is a practical issue. You have Greece, which is a neighbour and has been helping Turkey, Turkey is a neighbour and you have Cyprus that is a neighbour. And Cyprus is becoming a member of the EU. So all three countries will be part of the same family. So in this family we say these problems must be solved'', Papandreou said.

He added that ''what we are trying to say is let us use the European prospect to help find a solution''.

Papandreou said he discussed the issue with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul. ''I think he sees this also as a new tool in our relations and of course it has helped that the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots have come together in a much more positive context'', Papandreou noted.

Asked if there would be any meetings between the Cypriot and Turkish delegations on the sidelines of the European Council, Papandreou said ''these occasions always allow for informal contacts but I can't say if there will be anything''.


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