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Greece and Cyprus support Turkey's european aspirations
2004-11-12 16:52:53

Nicosia, Nov 12 (CNA) -- Cyprus and Greece support Turkey’s European course, however, they say Turkey must fulfill its obligations as a candidate country, towards the European Union and Cyprus, stated here Friday Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

Speaking after their talks at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, President Papadopoulos avoided revealing what stance Cyprus will take on the issue of granting Turkey a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU, stressing that the decision will be taken, after developments are reviewed at the last moment.

He stressed that although “17 December 2004 is a milestone, it does not mean that efforts end there”.

The two leaders stressed the need for a resumption of efforts to solve the Cyprus problem based on the Annan Plan, provided, as President Papadopoulos stated, the relevant amendments and improvements are made to the plan to make it functional and viable.

“The common aim remains the need to solve the Cyprus problem, within the framework of the UN and as a member of the EU”, said Karamanlis, so that Cypriots can live in conditions of security and prosperity and enjoy the fruits of accession to the EU.

In his remarks, President Papadopoulos said they had very cordial talks where they examined “the position of the Cyprus problem as it is today and reaffirmed that our desire for a settlement remains our main pursuit and goal”.

“The two governments’ desire is to create the conditions, the soonest, for a new effort for a Cyprus settlement, within the framework of the Annan Plan, provided it undergoes the necessary changes and improvements which will make it functional and viable”, President Papadopoulos said.

On his part, Karamanlis said the prospects that lie ahead for the Cyprus problem were examined in detail, while possibilities to resume the momentum for a solution as well as renewing the international interest were considered.

The issue of Turkey getting a date to start accession negotiations with the EU was also examined, President Papadopoulos said, adding “we have ascertained that both countries desire to see a European Turkey, our neighbour”.

“The Republic of Cyprus has repeatedly said that in principle, it is positively considering granting a date to Turkey to start accession negotiations, provided it realises and accepts that it must fulfill all the obligations which a candidate state has towards the EU and Cyprus”, the Cypriot President underlined.

He pledged that Cyprus will make efforts at all fora and with Greece’s support, to secure Turkey’s commitment to fulfill its obligations “which will be to the benefit, not only for Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, but even for Turkey itself and Europe”.

However, he did not disclose what the government intends to do if Turkey fails to recognise the Republic of Cyprus. “Our decision will be taken by evaluating all issues at the moment as well as balancing the desires of other EU member states”, he added.

He also said that Cyprus fully recognises its capabilities and power, and will not support extreme positions, and at the same time “will not abandon issues which are of vital significance for the existence and role of the Republic of Cyprus within the EU”.

The Greek Premier said his country has for long now supported Turkey’s European orientation which is “based however on certain rules, criteria and attitudes”.

He referred to the European Commission’s progress report which sets a number of preconditions for Turkey if this country wants to start mebership talks with the EU. "This is our policy and we are in continued contact with the government of Cyprus”, Karamanlis noted.

The EU leaders are expected to decide on the issue on 17 December during their summit. Both Greece and Cyprus are members of the EU.

The two leaders examined issues of common interest in a climate of understanding and cooperation, as they said, and ascertained the excellent level of bilateral relations.

Papadopoulos and Karamanlis also discussed the missing persons issue. The Cypriot President said the Turkish Cypriot side has adopted delaying tactics as far as the exhumations and identification process is concerned.

In his remarks, Premier Karamanlis thanked Papadopoulos for the warm welcome and said he was ''very happy to be in Cyprus where the people fought and won the big European prize'' (entering the EU).

After his talks with Papadopoulos, Premier Karamanlis met the leaders of the political parties represented in the island's 56-seat House of Representatives. No statements were made after the meeting.

He, later on, met the members of the supreme body of the Cyprus Orthodox Church, before departing for the Presidential Palace for an official dinner given in his honour by President Papadopoulos.

Tomorrow, the Greek Premier will address an extraordinary session of the House of Representatives and meet representatives of the relatives of the Missing Persons Committee before leaving early in the afternoon.

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