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Greek Cypriot side ready for solution but Spokesman not optimistic
2002-12-11 22:37:10

by Rebekah Gregoriades -- Copenhagen, Dec 12 (CNA) ? Cyprus Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou reiterated from Copenhagen tonight that the Greek Cypriot side is ready to contribute to any effort to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem, noting however that he was not too optimistic about the prospect of reaching a settlement before the European Council, which starts tomorrow, wraps up its two-day works.

Speaking after a meeting in the Danish capital between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the Spokesman said the Greek Cypriot side has already expressed its readiness to reach an agreement on the Cyprus problem, in order to reunite the island but noted that if the Turkish side was not willing to cooperate in this direction, then Cyprus would proceed with accession to the EU during the Copenhagen summit.

Papapetrou said Clerides and Simitis "reviewed the situation so far" and that "special emphasis" was placed on the issues of Cyprus' accession to the EU and the Cyprus problem.

Referring to tonight's meeting between the President and Simitis, the Spokesman said they exchanged views and that "both delegations will be on the alert until the last moment, until our accession goal is reached".

The conclusion, he added, was that "Cyprus' accession course is proceeding smoothly" and that during tomorrow's European Council "it is expected that a decision will be taken in principle on enlargement, which will be ratified with the approval of the relevant document on Friday".

Regarding the efforts to solve the Cyprus question, Papapetrou said "the Greek Cypriot side has already expressed its readiness to reach an agreement on the Cyprus problem, in order to terminate this division and the occupation of our island".

"So far, the necessary political will has not been exhibited on behalf of Turkey in order to reach this goal and I would not wish to express too much optimism on the outcome of these efforts in the near future, if I judge by the statements made by Mr. Denktash and Turkey", Papapetrou said.

He added that "these statements do not dent the resolve and the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side" but instead "move the weight to the Turkish side".

Asked if the Greek Cypriot side had been notified on any facilities requested by the UN from the Danish Presidency, Papapetrou said "we have been informed that some preparations of a technical nature have been made in the event that there are any deliberations or negotiations here in Copenhagen".

He noted that the information was received today but noted that "it is not the technical preparation that determines whether talks will be held or not but the political decisions".

Invited to say if he believed that at the end of the day Cyprus would be joining the EU, Papapetrou said he would not like to make a forecast, noting that "we are ready for both parameters", that is accession and solution.

"If the Turkish side does not want to cooperate for the solution of the Cyprus problem then, yes, we proceed with accession", Papapetrou added, noting that this was "the conclusion I derive from the public statements made mainly over the past few days, and from Mr. Denktash and Ankara".

He added that in the event that there will be an effort to solve the Cyprus problem in Copenhagen, "the Greek Cypriot side expresses its readiness to contribute positively, as always, in this effort".

Asked if the Greek Cypriot side was willing to hold talks with a member of the Denktash regime, Papapetrou noted nothing had been said about talks apart from the proximity ones between President Clerides and Denktash over the past few days.

"We negotiate with the Turkish Cypriot community, which determines who its representative will be. We of course do not recognise the pseudostate", the Spokesman added.

Replying to questions, Papapetrou said "whenever we are called on to contribute to a process either before the completion of this summit or afterwards, the Greek Cypriot side is ready".

Asked if the invitation for Cyprus to join the EU would be a clean act, Papapetrou said "I hope so and that there will be no commitments or any limitations to this accession".

Invited to say whether he really believed that a solution to the Cyprus problem could be achieved in the 24 hours left until the Copenhagen European Council has a clear view on enlargement, Papapetrou said "it is very difficult for things to move in this direction".

Tomorrow, President Clerides will receive the leader of the Greek New Democracy Party Constantinos Karamanlis.

Towards noon, Simitis will meet with the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.|

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan submitted a solution plan on November 11 and a reviewed version was sent to the two sides on December 10. Ailing Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who was negotiating with President Clerides to reach a settlement, is not fit enough to come to Copenhagen. He has designated Tahsin Ertugruloglu as his representative.


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