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Grossman and Papantoniou discuss Cyprus
2002-12-05 10:22:39

By Costas Iordanides -- Athens, Dec 5 (CNA) -- Washington's support for Cyprus' accession to the European Union (EU), the solution of the island's political problem and granting a date for Turkey to start accession negotiations with the EU were conveyed during a meeting here yesterday between US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman and Greece's National Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

Grossman said the US fully supports Cyprus' accession to the EU as well as the UN Secretary-General's efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. It also backs the EU's decision at the Helsinki European Council, as well as giving Turkey a date to start accession negotiations with the EU.|

The US official said he proposes that all these issues could be dealt with simultaneously on December 12 (EU Summit in Copenhagen) and this is what the US is trying to achieve.

On his part, Papantoniou clarified that the Greek side is not pursuing a package "because we believe that Cyprus' accession is a separate issue that has been tabled at Helsinki".

Papantoniou said "we are positive as regards to Turkey and we will continue to put pressure for a Cyprus settlement, but I would not say that we associate the two issues because Cypriots have the first say and in any event it is important for us to maintain the procedure going after Copenhagen".

The 1999 Helsinki European Council conclusions said "that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union and if no settlement had been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition", adding that in "this the Council will take account of all relevant factors".

Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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