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Cyprus and Greece coordinate action on crash
2005-08-18 10:17:38

by Christa Nicolaou

Athens, Aug 18 (CNA) – Greece and Cyprus agreed on additional actions to speed up then identification of the victims and completion of the investigations into Sunday’s Helios air crash near Athens which killed 121 people, mostly Cypriots.

Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis made the relevant statement after talks at the Prime Minister’s office in the Greek capital where Papadopoulos is on a working visit. He returns to Cyprus later Thursday.

The two also reconfirmed their strategy and policy on the Cyprus problem and decided the course they will follow regarding Turkey’s EU accession prospects, noting that these will be revealed at EU organs.

In his statements, Premier Karamanlis expressed on behalf of the Greek people "our great sorrow and regret for the tragic event of the plane crash that killed many Cypriots but also our compatriots, Greeks”.

“We reconfirmed our willingness to fully investigate the causes of this fatal accident. Already, relevant investigations are taking place with speed. The governments of Greece and Cyprus will continue to work closely for this purpose. It is the least we can do as an obligation to the victims and their families”, he added.

On the Cyprus problem, Karamanlis said that as part of the firm communication and cooperation between the two countries, “we extensively examined the new developments and prospects on the issues that concern us. We remain firm because we believe that our national interests are being served and respond to our peoples’ wishes for peace and stability in our region. We also take into consideration the recent developments”.

Karamanlis added “we also had an in-depth discussion and agreed on the next steps and actions. These positions and actions will become evident at the right time, at the relevant EU organs, i.e. the forthcoming COREPER meeting and the informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Newport”.

In his statements, President Papadopoulos said "unfortunately this time our discussions took place in the shadow of this terrible tragedy. Once more I expressed to Premier Karamanlis and to the Greek authorities the appreciation and gratitude of Cyprus for the speedy response to the tragedy, for the services’ effectiveness and to the close cooperation between the relevant authorities of both countries from the onset of the crisis".

The President further said he appreciated the assistance provided by Greece to the Cypriot authorities to help handle the relatives of the victims, as well as to collect the bodies and to undertake the scientific analysis that is being followed.

“We have decided to take some additional measures to speed up the investigations, both for the identification of the victims and in fully investigating the conditions and causes of the accident”, the President added.

On the Cyprus problem, President Papadopoulos said “rightly the Premier said we discussed the developments as regards the Cyprus problem, within the EU framework and under the light of the recent events which are known to everyone”, he added.

President Papadopoulos was referring to the declaration issued by Turkey simultaneously with its signing of the Ankara Agreement last month, where it said the signing does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.

"We have set out both our strategy and policy. Our position remains unchanged that we will try through the EU, to achieve the best possible results, to promote the Cyprus problem and to handle the problems that arise".

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