23 January, 2004
BERLIN 23/01/2004 (ANA/P. Stangos)
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou focused on the utilization of the general momentum currently being ascertained regarding a solution to the Cyprus issue, as well as on Turkey's further rapprochement with the European Union, in statements they made before beginning talks here on Thursday.
Fischer, who returned from Ankara on Thursday night, said that both the fulfillment and implementation in practice of the Copenhagen criteria on the part of Turkey, and its positive contribution to a solution to the Cyprus issue, are ''very important'' for Turkey's accession to the EU.
''It is very significant that the opportunity exists today for the Cyprus issue to be resolved for Europe and the two neighbors (Greece and Turkey), as well as for the two communities in Cyprus, and this opportunity should be utilized, which is also what I said in Ankara,'' the German foreign minister said.
According to Fischer, mobility taking place on the Cyprus issue ''is not by chance'' and is linked, on the one hand, to efforts towards reforms being made by Turkey ''with very good results, as we think'' and, on the other, to the fact that the date is approaching on which the EU must decide in connection with the beginning of accession negotiations with Turkey.
Papandreou spoke of a ''decisive year'' for Cyprus.
''Cyprus is becoming a member of the European Union, the Turkish Cypriot community wants to become a member of a united Cyprus and Turkey also wants to become a member of the EU and get a date for the beginning of accession negotiations,'' the Greek foreign minister said, adding that a ''common vision'' is appearing, that is to say ''leaving historic feuds in the past and proceeding together in a difficult conjuncture without wars, without dividing lines in a united Cyprus.''
In statements following his talks here with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday there was hope that a solution to the Cyprus issue could be reached by May 1.
''Of course the hope exists that we will be able to solve the (Cyprus) problem by May 1, from then on, however, we must not create pessimism if we are not able to achieve it by May 1,'' Papandreou said.
''I believe that the end of this year, when another very important decision will be taken regarding the start of (EU) accession talks with Turkey, is the timeframe within which we must move,'' the Greek foreign minister added.
Source: Athens News Agency