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19 May, 1998
Both the US president and Britain's PM stated yesterday that problems relating to Greek-Turkish relations, Cyprus and Ankara's European aspirations have to be tackled in a comprehensive manner and not in isolation. Britain's leadership also backed the idea that Turkey should be given "a very clear signal" about the EU's "true intentions" and expressed "deep concern" about the situation in Cyprus. London is the current holder of the European Union's rotating presidency. "I do not think we can solve one problem in isolation from the other. I think we must move forward on all these problems - Cyprus, the Aegean, jurisdiction on disputes and the role of Turkey on Europe's future," US President Bill Clinton told a press conference here yesterday. He was in Britain for the G7 plus Russia summit over the weekend and the subsequent meeting of the six-nation Contact Group. Asked if EU-Turkey ties were discussed at yesterday's talks between the EU and the US, Mr. Clinton reiterated his administration's position
that "there ought to be efforts for Turkey to move closer to the EU". "The US believes that there should be an honorable settlement to the Cyprus impasse", Mr. Clinton said. He noted that it is "very important" to keep Turkey and Greece as "genuine allies" and available to spend their time, energy and resources "promoting peace and development for their own people" as well as "enormous stabilising forces" in their respective regions of Europe. "Together we have to proceed on many paths at once and I think that all Turks and Greeks have to take difficult decisions, which I believe the EU and I know the US will strongly support," he added. He underlined the need to "move forward for all these" (Cyprus, Aegean, Turkey's role in Europe, jurisdiction on disputes) and called on Greece and Turkey to "figure out whether they are interested in a comprehensive solution". "I know the rest of us do", he told the press.
On his part, British Premier Tony Blair said he "agreed entirely" with Mr. Clinton's remarks and emphasised the EU's desire for "a good and close relationship with Turkey."
"We have a deep concern over what is happening in Cyprus and we believe it is essential to make progress in this area", Mr. Blair said.
Acknowledging the difficulties Turkey says it has with the recent EU decision, Mr. Blair pointed out that "we should and will redouble our efforts to give a very clear signal to Turkey about our proper and true intentions and also to do what we can to bring hope in the conflict in Cyprus".
The EU decided in December last year to open accession negotiations with Cyprus, but left Turkey outside the list of candidate countries, scheduled to start membership talks, until it puts its house in order as far as human rights are concerned, its relations with Greece, progress towards a negotiated settlement in Cyprus and improvement of the situation of the Kurds in Turkey.
Source: Athens News Agency