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05 December, 2001
Prime Minister Costas Simitis lauded the meeting between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash that took place on Tuesday and expressed guarded optimism over the developments in the Cyprus issue.
Speaking at a press luncheon hosted by the Foreign Press Association in Athens, Simitis said that "this development shows that we have succeeded to some degree."
He added that Denktash met with Clerides on Tuesday, while just some time ago he did not even wanted to talk to him.
"Denktash accepted to talk to him within the framework of the United Nations, while some time ago he did not accept to discuss at all with the representatives of the United Nations, if some preconditions were not met," the Greek premier said.
He stressed that the discussions in Cyprus were conducted in a good climate. He added, however, that he "did not have illusions that through these talks a resolution of the Cyprus issue would appear as if by magic. Work is needed for that. Thought is needed, mobilization is needed and a course as well. And this course we should laud".
As for Turkey, Simitis said that "for it to wish to incorporate the northern part of the island (republic) and at the same time to wish its entry to the European Union are two conflicting aims".
He stressed that Greece always supported the European Union - Turkish rapprochement. Greece believes that in this manner Turkey will abide by certain rules on all sectors.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Cyprus opened negotiations with the EU in 1998 and has provisionally closed 23 out of 29 chapters of the acquis communautaire. It is expected to close another chapter, that of home affairs and justice this month.
Source: Athens News Agency