Greek premier: Turkey's EU bid depends on Cyprus too
Athens, Apr 20 (CNA) -- Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has stressed that Turkey's accession course to the European Union also depends on its stance towards Cyprus, an EU member which Ankara does not recognise.
Karamanlis was one of many speakers at the 9th Economist conference here, which heard views about Greco-Turkish relations, the question of Cyprus and the role of the EU, among other issues on its agenda.
The Greek premier pointed out that Greeks, more than anybody else, wish to see Cyprus reunited on the basis of a UN-proposed solution plan with an agreed settlement that would last and be in line with the acquis communautaire.
Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias, a guest speaker at the conference, fended off criticism from a Turkish journalist, who had claimed that Cyprus managed to ''slip into Europe and is no longer interested in a solution'', stressing that the Greek Cypriot side is more than ready for negotiations that would seek to serve the interests of the Cypriots and not anybody else.
In his address, the Greek premier said that ''Turkey's European course depends directly and at each step on respect for international law, the rule of law, human rights, religious freedom and minority rights.''
''It also depends on good relations with its neighbours as well as its attitude towards the Republic of Cyprus,'' he stressed.
Karamanlis said Athens seeks to develop bilateral cooperation with Ankara and normalising ties with its eastern neighbour.
Christofias denied claims by a Turkish journalist that the Greek Cypriots by rejecting the UN plan (Annan plan) had postponed any chance for a solution into the next decade.
''The Greek Cypriot side is ready to continue the search for a settlement, provided that the UN undertakes an initiative for talks where the leaders of the two communities sit at the negotiating table in order to meet the interests of the Cypriots, leaving aside the motherlands and the nurse (as he described Britain, one of the guarantor powers),'' he said.
He pointed out that he does not tolerate any foreign country to have rights on Cyprus, as the Annan plan had provided for Turkey.
In his remarks to the conference, Greek deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis said that normalising relations with Turkey ''passes through Cyprus''.
He said Turkey's course to Europe is a ''solo dance'' and not tango for two, explaining that Ankara has to convince Brussels that it fulfills the criteria set out by the EU.
On any fresh effort towards a Cyprus settlement, he said that any such attempt must take seriously into consideration the experience of the past attempt and the new factors created by Cyprus' EU accession.
The latest UN attempt at a settlement ended in failure when the Annan plan was put to a referendum and rejected by the Greek Cypriots but approved by the Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.