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18 December, 2002
Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Demetris Christofias discussed the Cyprus issue on Tuesday in the wake of the European Union's historic Copenhagen summit last week which endorsed Cyprus' entry into the European Union.
Christofias is in Athens following an invitation by Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis to watch an off-the-agenda debate on the Cyprus issue in Parliament on Tuesday night.
Speaking after the meeting, Papandreou said the moment is historic, following the decisions taken in Copenhagen, and placed emphasis on the decision to include Cyprus in EU enlargement, while stressing that ''we now have the major problem of solving the Cyprus problem before us.''
He further said a solution to the Cyprus issue opens great prospects not only for Cyprus but for Turkey as well, provided the latter shows the relative will, and for peace and stability in the region in general.
Referring to the process of finding a solution to the Cyprus issue, Papandreou said the conjuncture is favorable and there is an impetus since Cyprus will be a full EU member shortly.
Papandreou also commented on constructive statements by Turkey's political leadership and the Greek Cypriot side's desire for a solution, stressing that Greece, being a country involved, will back this impetus in every way.
Christofias thanked Papandreou for cooperation achieved and underlined that ''Cyprus would not be a member of the EU today without the support of Greece.''
He added that the finding of a just and viable solution and the island's reunification remains the main strategic target, noting that the Turkish side and the Turkish Cypriot leadership should change philosophy.
Christofias said ''forces refusing to continue to live under the regime of Denktash should be strengthened'', adding that ''we shall try to make this wish a reality in every way.''
He further rejected certain views that ''now that the Greek Cypriots have achieved accession they have no reason to care about a solution to the Cyprus issue'' and pointed out that ''the continuation of occupation and partition is not our fate.''
Christofias avoided making predictions on the fate of the Turkish Cypriot leader, but stressed that two power centers are struggling in Turkey. The one supports the demands of the Turkish Cypriot community for a solution and the second supports Rauf Denktash and the establishment forces agreeing with his positions.
He also said ''the solution will come through negotiations based on the Annan plan. The Greek Cypriot side is ready to negotiate seriously and to conclude an agreement. The other side is not ready.''
However, Christofias predicted that ''it will be very difficult for us to reach a solution with Rauf Denktash'', saying that he has grown up with the vision of Cyprus' partition and expressing the conviction that when a compromise solution will be near the Turkish Cypriot leader ''will extort an extension in a thousand and two ways.''
Source: Athens News Agency