Greek premier pledges support as leadership discusses Annan plan
By Christa Nicolaou
Athens, Apr 15 (CNA) -- Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said the positive elements of the Annan Plan outweigh the negative elements and Cyprus' accession to the EU could to ease any obstacles.
The Greek premier was speaking after Greek political party leaders meeting under President Costis Stephanopoulos examined latest developments in the Cyprus problem, in view of referenda that will be held on 24 April in Cyprus for the approval or rejection of the fifth version of the UN Secretary-General's plan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
In his statements, Premier Karamanlis noted that prospects for a political settlement in Cyprus will not be exhausted with the referenda on the 24th April but can be extended even after the 1st of May, when Cyprus will officially enter the EU.
Karamanlis told reporters "these are critical times for Cyprus. Bearing in mind the seriousness of the circumstances, the government decided to give its position with respect and forethought to the Republic of Cyprus, its government and citizens".
He said that following the presentation of the fifth Annan Plan, "the principle that Cyprus decides and Greece supports, has become more requisite".
This means, he added, that Greece could not take a stance on the issue before the leaders and political forces in Cyprus had the time to negotiate and give their positions in a responsible manner in what is a difficult choice.
"The circumstances demand careful choices, bearing in mind the views of the immediate parties who are called to live with the positive or negative elements of their choice", Karamanlis added.
He further said that the Annan plan was improved on certain points but what remains is the fact that there was no overall agreement achieved during the talks in Switzerland.
The Greek Prime Minister said that the final responsibility for the future of Cyprus rests with the Cypriots and the day after the referenda Cyprus will still count on Greece's support.
According to a statement issued after the meeting of Greece's political party leaders, chaired by President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos, and convened after a request by Prime Minister Karamanlis, the leaders discussed latest developments in the Cyprus issue and ''expressed useful and important opinions for the benefit of the national interest''.
''The parties will separately express their positions in view of the Cyprus referenda on April 24'', the statement said.
''The aim of the meeting was to discuss and examine latest Cyprus developments, in relation to the proposed Annan plan for a Cyprus solution and the forthcoming referenda", the statement said.
It added that views were expressed by all present on political developments after the referenda whatever the result of the vote will be.
Present at the meeting were also opposition Socialist PASOK leader George Papandreou, Communist Party (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) President Nikos Constantopoulos. Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis also participated in the meeting.
Papandreou supported a ''yes'' vote by the Greek Cypriots at the referendum while Papariga called for a ''no''. Constantopoulos fully backed Cyprus' leftwing AKEL party's suggestion for a postponement for a few months of the referenda to allow the people to become fully informed of the Annan plan's provisions.