Papadopoulos: Solution can be reached before 1 May 2004
Cyprus President Papadopoulos and Prime Minister of Luxembourg Juncker discuss Cyprus problem and EU matters
by Emilia Christofi
Luxembourg, 15 Oct (CNA) -- A solution to the Cyprus problem can be reached before 1 May 2004 when the island will formally enter the EU, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos told a press conference in Luxembourg today jointly given with Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker.
Papadopoulos stressed that the basis is already there with the Annan plan and that the changes sought by the Greek Cypriot side are not outside its parametres.
At the same time, Juncker said everything possible should be made in order to have the reunification of the island when it enters the EU.
Regarding the number of Euro MPs, Juncker said ''we cannot agree to having our representation to the EU reduced'', he said, noting the issue was raised during his discussions with Papadopoulos. Luxembourg has six Euro MPs. Cyprus is also entitiled to have six Euro MPs.
Juncker said he was ''very pleased'' with President Papadopoulos' visit noting that ''relations are excellent''.
President Papadopoulos expressed his gratitude to Luxembourg and Juncker for making Cyprus a candidate of the EU. ''We don't forget that the first decision of accession negotiations was taken by the Luxembourg presidency''.
He praised Juncker for his steadfast help in the accession negotiations of Cyprus.
''We like to benefit from the wealth of experience Luxembourg has in the EU. Luxembourg has showed that small countries can perform admirably the task of presidency into the EU'', he said.
President Papadopoulos said ''a major part of the discussions this morning focused on the Cyprus problem''.
''It is natural, Cyprus has two priorities. Number one: to solve the Cyprus problem, and number two: to become a very constructive and useful member of the EU and not to have the role of a troublesome partner'', he said.
He stressed that ''our key figure interest is that a united Cyprus should accede in the EU in the 1st of May. We will spare no efforts to make that possible. But even if we don't succeed by the 1st of May, we shall persevere because a divided Cyprus certainly in the EU will present to us more practical problems, which may overcome at a great cost'', he added.
Papadopoulos reminded that ''it takes two or perhaps three, including Turkey, for any problems to be made. Right now, the position of everyone, the UN, the US, all those involved say that before the 'voting' in the occupied part of Cyprus, there can be no initiatives''.
Next week's meetings in Athens of US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will not be joined but coincides as Powell arrives when Gul will leave.
''It is my impression that the US have a keen interest in Cyprus. And I think it can be more effective if they direct their efforts towards Turkey, who after all decides what happens in Cyprus, procedural and on the substance'', he said.
Papadopoulos stressed ''we have six months, after the 'voting' in the occupied areas. Yes, I think the time is enough because the basis is there, it is the Annan Plan'', and repeated that the Greek Cypriot side accepts the Annan plan as a basis for negotiations.
''There are aspects of the plan which may be improved, which would benefit a solution but none of our proposals go outside the parametres of the plan or intends to upset its conception, its philosophy, its core issues'', he pointed out.
President Papadopoulos repeated that he does not want a repetition of the ''tragic events of The Hague'', because last minute pressure does not bring results and that the policy ''you either sign now or else'' really does not work in the modern world.
Asked what would be the repercussions on Turkey's accession course if no solution is reached before next May, Juncker said it was speculation question, pledging ''we must do our best to have a final settlement by 1st May 2004''.
Replying to a question, Juncker said he did not think it was a good idea to send observers for the ''elections'' to be held in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus in December, ''because the observers would have to check the register and this would be absurd because it is invalid''.
After meeting the Prime Minister, President Papadopoulos visited the Chamber of Deputies and had a meeting with its President Jean Spautz.
Afterwards he held an audience with the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.