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Greek FM Papandreou Holds News Briefing Following White House Meeting
2002-11-26 19:40:25

November 26, 2002
PAPANDREOU:
I had a very good meeting with Condoleezza Rice. The basic issues of the meeting were, of course, the developments in Iraq, but also how the important decisions we will be taking in the European Union and Copenhagen will affect the wider region of Europe.

On this, I'd like to remind you that we will be deciding in Copenhagen on the accession of 10 new members into the European Union. And we will also be making decisions on the future of three candidate countries: Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Amongst the members that will become new members of the -- countries that will become new members of the European Union, Cyprus will be amongst them and there is a very important plan -- Kofi Annan plan of the U.N. which is -- has been laid down for negotiations in order to reach a solution hopefully before Copenhagen so that this island, Cyprus, can enter the European Union as a united island.

We talked about this plan. We also talked about the importance of Turkey getting a date by the European Union, from the European Union to begin accession talks with the European Union.

Greece believes that it's very important that Turkey maintains a European orientation and that it does get a date for the beginning of accession talks with the European Union.

This is very important because this creates a new environment. A country which is of Islamic religion, we believe, can be a democratic country, can be a country which espouses our values of democracy and human rights, and also can be a country of peace and stability in the region.

We also have asked the United States to contribute to helping the Cyprus problem being solved and in helping Turkey make the necessary reforms and moves internally but also in the neighborhood.

Finally, Greece will be in the presidency of the European Union. We will be having as a priority, of course, the very important dialogue which the European Union has with the United States on many issues, particularly the issue of how we create a safer world, how we can be more effective, how we can work together to create a safer world, deal with new threats such as those as terrorism, look at the root causes of terrorism and see how we can deal with them.

PAPANDREOU:
But also with specific geographical areas such as the Middle East, the Arab world, the Caucasus, Russia and, of course, Iraq. Thank you.

QUESTION:
Did you discuss with Condoleezza Rice the U.N. initiative on the Cyprus issue in connection for the (inaudible)?

PAPANDREOU:
Yes, we did. We -- Kofi Annan very much -- and we, of course, agree with him -- would like to see a solution before the 12th of December. Time is, of course, running out and we haven't yet had the two sides begin negotiations, that is President Clerides and Mr. Denktash.

Mr. Denktash himself has not yet responded positively to the idea of negotiating on the basis of Kofi Annan's proposal. On the other hand, President Clerides has responded positively and is waiting for the other side to begin.

So time is running out, and we would like to see a solution before Copenhagen so that a united island can become a member of the European Union.

However, if that's not possible, we need to keep up the momentum, not lose the momentum, so that the day after Cyprus is in the European Union we can continue negotiations, we can see negotiations move ahead and within a very short time have a solution of the Cyprus problem, a problem which has been around for 28 years.

QUESTION:
Did you discuss with Dr. Condoleezza Rice the new relation between Greece and Turkey with the new Turkish government in Ankara right now, under (inaudible)?

PAPANDREOU:
Yes, we did discuss the recent visit of Mr. Erdogan and his new foreign minister, Mr. Yakis, to Athens, saying that it was a positive visit. The messages that he brought were positive messages.

Obviously we will have to see in practice what these messages mean. They will be getting a vote of confidence.

I personally will be visiting Turkey on December 4th to have contacts with Mr. Yakis. And hopefully the developments in the region are opening up a new era of cooperation and friendship.

Again, I say that the messages have been positive, but in practice we will have to see how these are translated. Let's hope that we are talking about historic changes in the region.

Thank you.

The FDCH Transcript Service Nov. 26, 2002

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