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Grossman hopes for successful NY meetings on Cyprus
2002-09-27 09:44:56

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- New York, Sep 27 (CNA) -- US Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Marc Grossman said he most fervently wishes that the New York meetings between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on October 3-4 would come to "some successful resolution".

Speaking to the Greek TV station MEGA, the US official pledged his country's support to Cyprus' accession to the EU, the Helsinki decision of 1999 and the UN Secretary-General's efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.|

Invited to say whether he thinks there will be a solution to the Cyprus problem soon, Grossman said "I hope so", adding that the US supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General" and "everything he is doing to try to bring these two leaders and parties together".

Grossman said that what Clerides and Denktash are doing is "very important and helped by the SG. So we very much look forward to his meetings in New York and I most fervently wish that it would come to some successful resolution", he added.

Asked if there were no solution would he still support the accession of Cyprus to the EU, Grossman replied that the US policy "all along has been to support the accession of Cyprus because we believe that the accession process is a very important helper into this. It is something that has added to it. It is something that makes people want to come forward with a solution. So we support the SG, we support the Helsinki decision of 1999 and we support Cyprus' accession to the EU".

Invited to say whether he thinks there will be a crisis in the region with the island's accession to the EU, Grossman replied negatively, adding that he perceived the reverse from his conversations with the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Cyprus, George Papandreou and Ioannis Kasoulides. "...All of us felt that there are a number of opportunities that intersect at the end of this year", with the Cyprus talks in October, the EU making a statement about aspirants, including Turkey on October 9, the Turkish election on November 3 and the Copenhagen European Council on the 12th of December.

"I believe that if we are all smart and we are creative, then we can use this time together to create not a crisis but a big opportunity for the EU, for Greece, for Cyprus, and very much for Turkey as well", he added.

To a question if he has the same evidence like the British whether Saddam Hussein is going to attack the British Bases in Cyprus, Turkey and Greece, Grossman said Saddam Hussein "has been a leader who has used chemical weapons not only on his own population but on another country, so we think he intends to acquire these weapons".

He said the whole purpose "is to have him comply with Security Council resolutions so you and I and people of the US and the people of Greece don't ever have to face the question of whether he will use them or not".

In his interview, Grossman praised the Greek government for "the spectacular success" it had with the 17 November terrorist group, noting that it is a "wonderful contribution to the war on terrorism".

He further said Greek-American relations "are in a wonderful shape" and "we are very pleased with the status and the warmth and the incredible ties between Greece and the US".

Grossman is due to visit Greece in November, at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce.

Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third, opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998.

The UN-led direct talks, which began in mid January, have yet to produce any substantive progress on the core issues under discussion (governance, security, territory and property).

The main stumbling block is Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's insistence on the creation of two separate states, which would come to an arrangement to cooperate under some kind of central administration.

President Glafcos Clerides advocates what the UN resolutions provide for, that is a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and one international personality.

Cyprus is set to conclude its membership talks in the next couple of months and expects to be invited to join the EU, together with another nine applicant countries.

According to the Helsinki conclusions, a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition for it and that all relevant factors will be taken into consideration.

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