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05 December, 2002
Reaching an agreement on a solution to the Cyprus problem before the EU Summit in Copenhagen would be difficult in the limited time available, the Greek government said on Wednesday.
Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas noted that a solution was achievable but unlikely and laid the blame for this squarely on the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot side, saying that they had been responsible for all the problems that had arisen or would arise in relation to efforts for solving the Cyprus problem.
Negotiations could begin even on the night before the EU leaders met on December 12 but Athens could not commit itself to concluding the process before the summit, he added.
"What's important is for the negotiations to continue after Copenhagen with the impetus they will gain at the summit," he said.
The spokesman did not rule out the possibility of a new initiative on the part of the United Nations on this issue and said that Greece would assess this when and if it transpired.
He once again reiterated that EU enlargement had to begin with Cyprus and that the Greek side was ready to begin negotiations based on the plan presented by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, while stressing that the Greek government would stand fast on this position to the very end.
Sources within the government said that a further initiative from the UN chief just before Copenhagen could be expected according to their assessment of the information at their disposal. Such an initiative would be more likely if Annan was first certain that his new initiative would be accepted by the two sides, they added.
The spokesman denied that any negotiations on the basis of the UN plan had taken place between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot sides, noting that all contacts that took place from time to time did so within the framework of the UN.
Source: Athens News Agency