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Greek FM replies to Gurel in UN General Assembly speech
2002-09-16 12:41:26

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- United Nations, Sep 16 (CNA) -- Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou has called on Turkey to respect United Nations resolutions on Cyprus, in his address before the UN General Assembly's 57th session.

Papandreou said relations between Greece and Turkey are "sorely tested" on the Cyprus issue, and remarked about the compelling need to find a Cyprus settlement before the island's European Union (EU) accession, stressing however that if this is not achieved, then the Republic of Cyprus will nevertheless enter.

Papandreou said that with the exception of Turkey, "the whole world shares a vision for Cyprus as a federal state with a single international personality and single citizenship, no foreign troops on its soil, and equal rights and security guarantees for both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities".|

He said the "vast majority of the Cypriot population agree that the two communities can and should live together, united by shared values, while preserving their individual cultural identities".
At this point, Papandreou stressed "UN resolutions must be honoured".

In his speech on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel reiterated the Turkish intransigent positions on the creation of "two sovereign states" in Cyprus, ignoring UN resolutions calling for a bizonal, bicommunal federation. He also said Cyprus' accession before a settlement is reached would cause many problems that would lead to tension in the island.

The Greek Foreign Minister noted that Cyprus "is also a critical factor for the stability and security of south eastern Europe and the Middle East", stressing that a solution to the issue "will wide the area of stability and peace throughout the region".

In his speech, Papandreou emphasised Greece and Turkey's shared values "are being sorely tested on the issue of Cyprus", noting there is now a "compelling deadline for a resolution to the continuing division of the island" with the negotiations for the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU finalised in December.

"We hope that a free, united Cyprus will join a free, united Europe", Papandreou said, remarking that "unification will undoubtedly bring greater security and prosperity to both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot population".

However, he said that "if a political settlement is not reached, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus will join alone", adding, "let us therefore break down the walls that keep these future European citizens apart".

Referring to the Greco-Turkish relations, Papandreou said that although a few years ago the notion of rapprochement between the two was "unthinkable", now within the context of a European vision, "our governments are creating a framework to solve existing problems, and citizen's diplomacy is building a bridge of peace between our nations".

He said Athens and Ankara have concluded a number of agreements, designed to ease the tensions that kept them apart and strengthen common interests, but fundamental differences remain on certain issues.

Papandreou said the two countries have come a long way and "can surely go further" and said he looks forward to continuing with Gurel "this path of peace and cooperation".

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third. It opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998 which are expected to be finalised this December and the European Council of Copenhagen is anticipated to invite the island to join the EU.

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