Papandreou calls on both sides of the divide to seize opportunity
Nicosia, Feb 17 (CNA) -Newly-elected President of the Socialist PASOK Movement in Greece George Papandreou has called on Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots at this "historic moment" to contribute towards a solution to the Cyprus problem, noting that a solution is close but "we should seize the opportunity".
Addressing a bicommunal gathering here organized by the Association of Social Reform (OPEK) with representatives of civil society from the Turkish Cypriot community, Papandreou said that "Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have paved the way to a solution".
He said that since last week's meetings in New York, it has become evident that the "solution is feasible in the weeks ahead but we should seize the opportunity".
Papandreou said that there have been simultaneous efforts during the past years from Greece and Turkey to mend relations between the two countries, noting that it is to the interest of both communities on the island and the people of Greece and Turkey "to heal the wounds of the past and look ahead so we can make the wider region a place of stability, peace and cooperation, where the funds which both countries are spending on confrontation will be invested in health, education and development".
PASOK leader reaffirmed his pledge that if he wins the 7th March elections in Greece, he will call on his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to work together to reduce armaments and invest in health, education and development programmes.
Furthermore, he said that cooperation in this region "means we will achieve a greater voice for the rest of the world, so we can contribute to the solution of the problem in the Middle East, strengthen and stabilize the Balkans and play a role in the dialogue between the West and the muslim world".
Turkish Cypriot politicians, unionists and representatives from various organizations praised Papandreou for his support in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and called for his assistance even if he becomes Greece's new prime minister.