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Greece appeals to Turkish side to be more positive in Cyprus talks
2003-01-08 17:46:59

By Costas Iordanides -- Athens, Jan 8 (CNA) -- Greece has called on the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side to engage in the negotiating process more constructively and with good faith if there is to be a solution to the Cyprus problem by February 28, 2003.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis also pledges Greece's commitment in reaching a comprehensive agreement to the Cyprus problem, on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions the soonest possible and states its willingness to engage in talks with Turkey and the UN to negotiate the terms of its future commitment to Cyprus.

However, Simitis notes the Turkish side has twice refused to engage in talks with Greece on security issues.|

Replying to Annan's letter of 18 December 2002, Simitis assures the Secretary-General of Greece's "strong commitment in reaching a comprehensive, lasting and functional settlement of the Cyprus problem, on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions the soonest possible."

Simitis refers to Greece's firm support to the successive UN efforts, "aiming at the achievement of a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, all over the years which followed the Turkish invasion of 1974".

For this reason, he says, upon receiving Annan's first document on November 11, 2002, "we have clearly stated that we can accept it as a basis for further constructive negotiations", pointing out that the Republic of Cyprus has the "main responsibility and competence to engage in talks on the different issues and technical details of Annan's proposals.

Noting that Greece, in its capacity of guarantor power, has the responsibility to negotiate the terms of its future commitment in Cyprus "has already stated its willingness and readiness to engage in talks on this issue with Turkey and the UN. However, as you are well aware of, the Turkish side has twice refused to engage in talks with us on security issues", the Greek Premier adds.

Stressing that Greece shares Annan's view that the momentum, which has been further enhanced by the new development created by the accession of Cyprus to the EU, must be kept up, Simitis says "nonetheless, in order to reach an agreement by February 28th, we believe that the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side have to engage in the negotiating process more constructively and with good faith".

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

CNA/KI/EC/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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