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19 September, 2000
Greece's foreign minister stressed early Monday (Athens time) that Greece's position on the Cyprus issue was "crystal clear" that there was "no issue of a confederation", and that Athens supported a bi-zonal, bi-communal federated solution.
In an interview with the Greek-American radio station "Cosmos FM" in New York, Papandreou shrugged off as "gossip" rumors of differences of opinion between the Greek and Cyprus government and that Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides had been "pressured" into returning to UN-brokered proximity talks with the Turkish Cypriot community regardless of whether clarifications were forthcoming from UN secretary general Kofi Annan over an ambiguous statement of his last week calling for re-cognition of an 'equal status' of the two sides in the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
"The settlement of the Cyprus problem is a necessary condition for a substantive improvement in Greek-Turkish relations," the foreign minister said.
Papandreou further spoke on the confidence-building measures (CBMs) and the agreement on procedural matters for discussion of purely military and operational issues at NATO level, as well discussion of bilateral goodwill measures in the sectors of trade, economy, shipping, tourism and the environment by the two foreign ministries' senior officials
Greece and Turkey agreed to seek closer ties through steps to include devising confidence building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean and considering a joint bid to host the 2008 European Soccer Championship during a meeting between Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, at a meeting in New York late on Saturday (Greek time).
On the situation in Yugoslavia, and the upcoming national elections there scheduled for September 24, Papandreou said that Greece, "as a friendly country", conveyed to the neighboring Balkan nation the message of "a course towards democracy with open democratic elections", rather than isolation.
The goal of Greek foreign policy was "stabilization, not conflict", Papandreou said, adding that after the elections the EU and the international community in general should re-examine the embargo on Yugoslavia "because Serbia's isolation does not contribute to stability in the region".
The foreign minister further referred to the important role played by the Greek-American lobby in the US in advancing Greece's national issues, noting that "the Greeks of the Diaspora are twice Greek".
Papandreou said he would return to the US in late October, when he would visit the West Coast to advance Greece's proposal for an Olympic Truce and for meetings with local leaders and members of the Greek community.
Source: Athens News Agency