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Cyprus - Greece take joint decisions on issues of mutual concern
2003-09-11 10:01:17

Nicosia, Sep 10 (CNA) -- Nicosia and Athens have agreed on a common course of action with regard to matters of mutual interest, relating to the European Court of Human Rights, the European Union, the Cyprus problem and the Islamic Conference with a view at safeguarding the interests of the two countries.

Speaking after official talks at the foreign ministry here today, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Cypriot counterpart Giorgos Iakovou stressed that the most important concern is to find a settlement of the protracted Cyprus question.

Papandreou said bilateral ties are entering a completely new dimension as a result of Cyprus' accession to the EU and Iakovou said there was full identity of views on the steps that need to be taken to tackle mutual concerns.

''Our bilateral ties will be governed by the new dimension of the EU, I am not talking about the Cyprus issue which is our first priority, I am talking about our cooperation within the Union as two member states within the EU in many fields,'' he said.

He explained that this cooperation does not refer to Cyprus' alignment with EU rules and regulations only but it relates to action on issues such as the new constitution, agricultural policy, economic development and EU foreign policy.

''This new dimension is completely fresh in our bilateral relations, this is a policy that needs to be implemented because Cyprus is joining the EU,'' Papandreou said.

In his remarks after the hour-long talks, Iakovou said discussions covered a wide range of issues, various aspects of the Cyprus question and EU matters.

''We shall play a role within the EU as a full member and we briefed Minister Papandreou about our harmonisation effort, our representation to EU institutions and the role we will play before and after accession in May 2004,'' Iakovou added.

He said Cyprus is already active in the Middle East and will do the same in the Mediterranean.

The Minister said they also discussed individual applications to the European Court and ways to deal with Turkey's manoeuvres to prevent Greek Cypriots from applying to the Court with regard to violations of their human rights by Ankara, whose troops occupy the island's northern areas.

''We reviewed the situation, exchanged views and took various decisions on these matters and others, including how to deal with problems that may arise at the Islamic Conference, next month in Kuala Lumpur,'' he said.

There is a full identity of views on the measures that need to be taken by the two governments, he added.

Asked to comment on plans by the Turkish Cypriot leader to reveal a new peace deal, to replace a UN proposal on a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, Papandreou said Cyprus and Greece have the same approach towards the UN proposal (the Annan plan) and indicated that it was not necessary to comment every time a new idea is floating around.

Replying to questions, Papandreou stressed that the solution of the Cyprus question was the priority of both Athens and Nicosia and pointed out that attention must be focused on finding a solution.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

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