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President addresses overseas Cypriots congress
2003-08-25 23:06:54

Nicosia, Aug 25 (CNA) - President Tassos Papadopoulos has said that improvements on a UN peace proposal for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus would allow Nicosia to have a real say in European Union affairs.

Opening the 13th World Congress of Overseas Cypriots here today, he said there is an urgent need for a solution which may be a painful compromise but which should be viable and functional.

The President called on overseas Cypriots to intensify their efforts towards reaching a just and viable solution and assured them that the Greek Cypriot side accepts the Annan plan as a basis for negotiations.|

The President said overseas Cypriots have a serious contribution to make and noted that ''the potential of overseas Hellenism is larger than that which has so far been expressed''.

''The improvements and amendments we are seeking on the Annan plan, which sooner or later will be made, do not deprive the Turkish Cypriots of any of their rights,'' he stressed.

The President said that ''the UN Secretary General neither doubts nor misinterprets this crystal clear position and he agrees that our observations on certain points are within the framework of his plan.''

''If the final solution of the Cyprus issue is not absolutely just but it is necessarily a painful compromise, then the solution must by necessity be viable and functional,'' he underlined, pointing out that a fragile settlement would lead to disastrous adventures.

Papadopoulos said Cyprus wants to be an active and constructive partners in the European Union and not a downgraded member state with a quiet role.

''The improvements we wish to see on the Annan plan will allow for our compliance with the acquis communautaire and for our substantive participation in decision making in the EU,'' the President said.

''The government is proceeding with changes and the implementation of a specific policy that will aim to offer proper services to overseas Cypriots'', he said, adding that ''what the overseas Cypriots can do and what we can do must be combined and with a joint plan of action and common strategy gather our forces and place them at the disposal and the service of our common struggle for the justification of our homeland and our people''.

Referring to the Cyprus problem, President Papadopoulos said the Greek Cypriot side has ''a clear and definite position, as opposed to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who dismissed the Annan plan both at The Hague and later on'', declaring it ''dead and buried''.

''Our position, then and now, is that we accept the Annan plan as a basis for negotiations, without terms or preconditions'', the President added.

Referring to the easing of restrictions on the free movement of citizens across the divide, President Papadopoulos said this was ''an effort of the Turkish side to wriggle out of the deadlock that it brought about itself and to create impressions that in Cyprus there are two separate and sovereign entities''.

''These ulterior moves of the Turkish side had a success and a failure. They succeeded in proving that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live harmoniously together and that the Turkish allegations that the could not were just a myth that has collapsed. And they failed to prove that this was a solution or even steps in the direction of a solution of the Cyprus problem'', the President said.

He reiterated that he would strive to exploit every possibility and opportunity for a just settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations on the plan for a solution submitted to the sides by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan earlier this year.

The President noted that Greece and overseas Cypriots support the government in its efforts to reach a settlement. ''Continue and strengthen this support of yours with unity, patience, persistence, determination and faith'', he added.

Finally, the President wished the overseas Cypriots every success in their conference and assured that the conclusions of the Congress would be studied by the government.

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


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