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Simitis: Annan proposal is an historical opportunity for Cyprus
2002-11-11 17:17:18

By Costas Iordanides Athens, Nov 11 (CNA) -- Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis underlined the "historical opportunity" for a Cyprus settlement and the need for unimpeded negotiations.

At the same time, he said the Annan proposal, delivered on Monday in Cyprus and New York, to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and a representative of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, contains difficult points for the Greek side but stressed it would not be advisable to make a fragmental evaluation of every regulation.

In a televised address, the Greek Premier said for the first time after many years "we receive an overall proposal which is the product of a long and coordinated effort to involve the international community and allow the Cyprus problem remain at the centre of attention".

He emphasised the special role which the strategy to strengthen the island's European perspective has played.

The Greek premier reminded that the people of Cyprus "have suffered for many years the consequences of the invasion and occupation in a Europe where developments averted the dividing lines", adding that in Cyprus there still "exists an historical anachronism".

He outlined the firm aim of Greece to find a "just, viable and workable solution to the Cyprus problem which will comply with the UN decisions for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single personality, single sovereignty and citizenship, respecting human rights in accordance with the acquis communautaire".

"Cyprus' accession course (to the European Union) guarantees the functioning of the solution and is also a lever of pressure for the effective handling of the problem", he added.

Referring to the Annan plan, the Greek Premier remarked that its regulations include "some difficult points" but said it would not be advisable or right at the current phase to make a fragmental evaluation of every detail.

"What is of interest is the overall balance which could be achieved", Simitis added.

However, a first assessment of the Annan plan is that it signals the starting point, which allows for intense negotiations, which will be persistent and hard.

"We have an historical opportunity for a solution and everyone should contribute in the unimpeded conducting of negotiations, without setting time limits", Simitis added.

However, he said the people of Cyprus would have the final word when it decides through a referendum.

Simitis recommended calm and determination to overcome party differences, stressing that the island's accession to the European Union will be completed, despite the settlement procedure.

Simitis will hand over tomorrow a copy of the Annan plan to Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos. He said he will meet Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on Saturday in Athens to coordinate the next steps.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou will deliver copies to the leaders of the Greek parties. |

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

It is expected to finalise accession negotiations with the EU by the end of the year.

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