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2002-11-27 17:13:14

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT Remarks with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou after their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
November 27, 2002

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I have just had a very fine conversation with my colleague, George Papandreou, Foreign Minister of Greece. We covered the usual bilateral issues that we always cover, but this morning we focused on the opportunity that is before us over the next two weeks with the possibility of a date, or a date for a date, with respect to Turkey?s accession to the European Union, with the prospects of some movement forward on Secretary General Annan's plan for Cyprus. So a lot of pieces are coming together and we discussed this at some length -- Cyprus as well as European Union matters.

We also, of course, talked about Iraq and I thanked the Minister once again for the support that Greece has provided on the global war against terrorism. Let me take this opportunity again to express my admiration to the Greek authorities, the Greek Government, for what they have done in breaking the November 17th ring after many, many years of terrorism in Greece.

So, George, as always, welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAPANDREOU: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. We had a very good conversation. The issues at stake are very important for the wider region. Europe is making an historic decision on the 12th of December, letting in ten new countries to the European Union, and hopefully we will be able to, with the help of Kofi Annan, get a solution on Cyprus. We are working towards the date of the 12th of December so that a united island could be welcomed into the European Union.

Of course, we also support the important decision that we will be making in the European Union about Turkey. Greece has been up front in saying that we would want to see a very positive message towards Turkey and therefore looking at a specific date for the beginning of accession discussions with Turkey and the European Union. This, of course, would be within the criteria that all candidate countries would have to fulfill, but I think it would be a very positive message and would keep, I would say, an important movement we are now seeing in Turkey for change, for deepening democratic institutions, human rights, and of course for the Cyprus problem.

Again, we have very much supported the UN resolution, the unanimous UN resolution and the work that Colin Powell has done to get this resolution, and are expecting full compliance for this resolution from the Iraqi Government and hope that there can be a diplomatic solution to this problem.

Thank you very much, Colin.

SECRETARY POWELL: I have only got time for one or two.

QUESTION: Do you expect any solution to the Cyprus problem by December 12, as you mentioned, sir, (inaudible) at the earliest?

SECRETARY POWELL: Oh, I do not know if we will have a solution or not. I think that the Secretary General has put down a plan that is now being looked at by all sides and I hope that both sides realize -- and I think both sides do realize -- that this is an historic opportunity to solve a longstanding problem, and the Secretary General has asked for a response by the 30th of November. I hope that both sides will respond in a way that allows the process to move forward. Then we will see what will happen over the next week to 12 days as to whether or not there is more progress that would fit into the progress that we hope to see made at the Copenhagen meeting.

Released on November 27, 2002

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