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Greece says New York decision justifies efforts
2004-02-13 15:58:33

by Christa Nicolaou

Athens, Feb 13 (CNA) -- Greece's new Minister of Foreign Affairs Tasos Yiannitsis said today that developments in New York regarding the decision to resume the stalled talks on the Cyprus problem in Nicosia on February 19 justify the tough negotiating line maintained by the Cypriot leadership and Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.

Yiannitsis told a press conference in Athens that ''we are optimistic for a final solution to the Cyprus problem'', adding that the decisions taken on the UN Secretary-General's proposals was an historic opportunity to reach a settlement.

He added that Athens and Nicosia gave a positive reply to UN chief Kofi Annan on his proposals and that their decision was unanimous.

''The tough and correct negotiating line we had with the Cypriot leadership and President Papadopoulos has been justified'', Yiannitsis said and thanked the Cypriot President for ''the successful conclusion of this process''.

He pointed out that the agreement meant the Turkish side accepted Annan's solution plan as a basis for negotiations, a position Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots dismissed until the New York negotiations were well into the early hours of the morning, New York time.

He explained that the procedure of solving the problem was no longer a part of the deadlock, and that on February 19 negotiations would begin on a political level, with the participation of the UN chief's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, with the committees meeting on a technical level.

On March 22, Annan will discuss loose ends with the two sides and an effort will be made to reach a solution by March 29, with the contribution of Greece and Turkey.

Then, the Secretary-General will have the discretion to finalise the text with his own proposals, ''so that referenda are held on both sides before May 1st'', when Cyprus joins the EU, he said.

Yiannitsis pointed out that Athens and Nicosia would continue to cooperate in order to reach a just and viable settlement.

He also said Greece and Cyprus managed to safeguard that the settlement would be compatible with the acquis communautaire.

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