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20 April, 2000
Foreign Minister George Papandreou and the head of Cyprus' EU accession negotiating team and former Cyprus president George Vassiliou on Wednesday discussed latest developments on the Cyprus issue, concerning both the accession course of Cyprus towards European Union membership and the third round of proximity talks due to start in New York on May 23.
Papandreou termed his talks with Vassiliou "constructive" and thanked him for his views and advice "which are always useful since they come from experience and a profound knowledge of the Cyprus issue."
Vassiliou, on his part, expressed the hope that during the Greek government's new period of office "both the Cyprus issue will be solved and Cyprus will become a member of the EU."
He appeared reserved over developments on the Cyprus issue, stressing that "the Turkish side has shown no signs of a change in position and this is an unfortunate reality" and adding that "we are going to the meeting in New York without having much hope, unless a miracle takes place and their position changes."
On the other hand, Vassiliou expressed satisfaction over the course of accession negotiations, underlining that 15 chapters have already closed temporarily, while the 16th is expected to close next month. He also took the opportunity to thank Greece and the Greek FM for their vital support for Cyprus.
Commenting on the content of the third round of proximity talks and on the impression that "issues have been exhausted in the two previous ones", Vassiliou said the president of Cyprus has this very view and that he has repeatedly told his foreign interlocutors, including the British and Americans, that no progress has been achieved in discussions held so far, while they on their part assured that substantive negotiations will be able to be held at some time.
Referring to the prospects of the Turkish Cypriots participating in accession negotiations, Vassiliou reiterated that if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash agrees to participate in the negotiating team of Cyprus "this will be a very positive step, while at the same time I will be more optimistic on the prospects of the Cyprus issue."
Source: Athens News Agency