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Papandreou says Greece wants Turkish Cypriots in EU
2003-09-12 09:40:21

Nicosia, Sep 11 (CNA) - Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou sent a message today to the Turkish Cypriots that the Greek side wants them to be part of the large European family and be active citizens of the EU.

He also sent the message that the security of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots would be safeguarded by participation in the large European family rather than by occupation troops.

Speaking at a press conference after wrapping up a series of meetings in Cyprus, Papandreou said ''we come at a very different time, with a new reality, which was formed over the past few years with specific policies that we followed'', adding that ''the procedure of Cyprus' accession to the EU has been finalised and it is this new reality that has formed a new impetus''.

He noted that ''we can look to the future with a difference confidence in the broader region and Cyprus itself'', adding that this impetus has brought specific results, has mobilised positively for a solution of the Cyprus problem, ''not only on behalf of the Cypriot government and the Greek Cypriots, who were always at the front in the struggle for the unification of the island and the solution of the problem, but has mobilised in the Turkish Cypriots themselves the hope that they can live together under one Cypriot, one European roof''.

Referring to the partial lifting of restrictions on the free movement of citizens on the island, Papandreou said this was the result of the impetus he spoke about.

He said ''some taboos have fallen'', those taboos that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and certain officials in Turkey used to support the argument that Cyprus needed to be divided because the two communities could not live peacefully together.

Papandreou said Cyprus is already in the EU and ''this opens new opportunities and a new impetus for a settlement, and opens a new important prospect for Cyprus' role in the EU''.

He added that Cyprus has a significant role to play due to its geographical position in the region.

Referring to Turkey, Papandreou said his message was that ''Greece has opened the prospect for her to become a member'' of the EU, adding that ''it is Greece that is struggling for a European Turkey and through this process we believe we can contribute to overcoming historical problems''.

''We have said that we want to welcome in 2004 a positive evaluation of Turkey to open negotiations for accession to the EU'', he said.

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

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