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11 July, 2000
European Union Foreign Ministers on Monday reached a common position on the Cyprus problem within the framework of defining the Community's priorities which will be submitted by the "15" during the 55th session of the UN General Assembly.
At the same time, Greece's Foreign Minister, George Papandreou, raised the issue of the situation near the village of Strovilia, in southeast Cyprus, where Turkish forces moved forward by building a new checkpoint in violation of the current status quo, on 1 July.
The common position was achieved during consultations between Papandreou and his British counterpart, Robin Cook, on the sidelines of the General Affairs Council, held in Brussels.
The position outlines that "the EU considers the status quo in Cyprus to be unacceptable and supports the Secretary-General's efforts for a negotiated, comprehensive, just and lasting settlement, consistent with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The EU reaffirms its commitment to the stability and prosperity of the Mediterranean region".
Papandreou described the statement as "satisfactory for both Greece and Cyprus, bearing in mind that it is within the framework of the latest decisions of the EU and the Group of Eight most industrialized nations".
Regarding Strovilia, Papandreou said the matter was raised during the ministers' luncheon. He said that although the UN is handling the issue, he called on his colleagues and the French presidency of the EU to take action towards restoration of the situation in the area. The Greek positions were noted down and there was no reaction by EU member states.
Papandreou also said that EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen is monitoring the Geneva proximity talks methodically and that he was assured by him that recent statements he made to a magazine on Cyprus are in harmony with decisions taken at the EU Helsinki summit and should not be interpreted differently.
On the question of EU-Turkey relations, Papandreou appeared satisfied when Verheugen assured him that ratification of the partnership relationship between the EU and Turkey, as well as the ratification of fiscal regulations for Turkey, would coincide in about mid-October.
Papandreou said he and Cook discussed efforts being made to detect those responsible for last month's murder of British military attache Stephen Saunders. He added that the British side is satisfied with its cooperation with the relevant Greek authorities and that a special meeting will be held in Athens on Tuesday between Greek and British officials from the two countries' public order ministries.
Meanwhile, the Strovilia issue was also raised at a session of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels, during a debate on the Turkish candidature and many Euro MPs condemned the Turkish provocation. France's Euro MP and rapporteur for Turkey's candidacy, promised to include the issue in the report he is preparing on Turkey.
Source: Athens News Agency