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04 July, 2000
"The Cyprus problem will always be a priority issue for Greece and will always be at the center of the Greek government's attention and activities," Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Monday after a two-hour meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides in Athens.
The aim of the meeting, Simitis told reporters in a press conference afterwards, was to exchange views on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and review the positions of Greece and Cyprus in view of the third round of Cyprus proximity talks that begin in Geneva on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister underlined that relations between Greece and Turkey would never be fully normalized unless there is a solution to the Cyprus problem. He also said that the next round of talks on Cyprus aimed to make real progress toward a solution, while noting that previous talks had failed to do this.
President Clerides, the Prime Minister added, had the full support of the Greek government. The next steps that needed to be taken, he continued, were determined by a series of UN Security Council resolutions that referred to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single sovereignty, a single international identity, one nationality and without the presence of foreign troops on its soil.
He also expressed the hope that the other side, in spite of the intransigence it has displayed so far, will wish to take a step in this direction, noting that it owes this to the international community and to Europe.
Referring to Cyprus's course toward EU accession, which was also discussed during the meeting, Simitis said that this was satisfactory and noted that Cyprus had progressed further than any of the other candidate-countries.
He also said that Clerides had agreed with a positive assessment of the decisions taken by the EU summit in Helsinki, noting that they paved the way for Cyprus' peaceful course.
Another subject discussed with the Cypriot president, the Prime Minister said, were bilateral relations. He said they had reaffirmed their stable cooperation in defense issues within the framework of the joint defense doctrine.
Commenting on a unilateral move by the Turkish Cypriots to push forward their frontier in the no-man's zone in the Strovilia area, Simitis said that the action unfortunately confirmed the intransigence of the Turkish-Cypriot side and their active contempt for UN decisions regarding Cyprus.
Simitis said that Athens condemned the action and requested a return to the status quo ante in the area.
On his part, the Cypriot president said he was leaving Athens with a distinct impression that Athens was monitoring and studying the Cyprus problem, which not only preoccupied the Greek government but also was its priority.
Asked to comment on the unilateral measures imposed last week by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash against UNFICYP, the Cypriot President said that these put the Turkish Cypriot side into conflict with the international community and expressed the opinion that "he will not be able to maintain these for long."
He pointed out, also, that the measures did not create any particular problems for the Greek Cypriot side, while they disrupted Denktash's relations with others.
Also present at the meeting were the foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus, George Papandreou and Ioannis Kasoulides, respectively, the Cyprus Public Attorney General Alekos Markides, Cyprus government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, Deputy Media Minister Telemachos Hytiris and other Greek and Cypriot officials.
Greece and Cyprus said on Monday that the solution to the island-republic's political problem lied in a string of United Nations resolutions, and occasional attempts by the organization to placate the Turkish Cypriot side were certain to boost its intransigence.
"We have again confirmed that all the elements for a solution of the Cypriot tragedy lie in a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which provide for the creation of a bizonal-bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty and a single international personality, one citizenship, guaranteed independence and territorial integrity, without the presence of illegal foreign troops," said a joint communique issued after the two-hour meeting between Prime Minister Simitis and President Clerides.
"We found that some points of the Secretary General's latest report to the Security Council lacked objectivity ... Certain occasional attempts to satisfy the intransigent demands of the Turkish Cypriot leader (Rauf Denktash) are certain to result in a strengthening of his intransigence," the communique said.
Simitis and Clerides met to review the two countries' positions and the latest developments, ahead of the scheduled third round of Cyprus proximity talks in Geneva on Wednesday.
Turkish occupation forces on Cyprus on Friday advanced to a new checkpoint in the buffer zone in the southeast of the island, creating new tension only days before the talks.
The communique noted that Greece closely follows any developments on the issue and expresses its deep concern, asking for the restoration of the status quo in the area.
It adds that both Athens and Nicosia are awaiting for the UN response.
"This incident reiterates, one more time, the need for finding a solution to the Cyprus question as soon as possible as well as the need for the withdrawal of occupation troops from Cyprus", the joint communique said.
The move of the illegal regime in the areas occupied by Turkey since 1974 is accompanied by measures against UNFICYP, including the forcing of its soldiers to enter these areas only through a single point in the capital Nicosia, to insure their vehicles with Turkish Cypriot insurance companies and pay the illegal regime for the water and electricity they use. The measures have been decided in retaliation to the non-inclusion of an addendum to the UN Secretary-General's latest report for the renewal of the UNFICYP mandate, with a Turkish Cypriot demand for separate consultations with the Force.
Clerides also met with Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos for 45 minutes at the presidential mansion after the talks with Simitis.
Greece condemns construction of new Turkish checkpoint on Cyprus:
Greece on Monday described as illegal and unacceptable the construction of a Turkish military checkpoint in the buffer zone on Cyprus.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the relevant decision of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash constituted disregard for the United Nations and a violation of past agreements.
"Greece condemns this sort of action. The United Nations must insist Denktash complies with older agreements on the issue," he said.
The illegal checkpoint has been built near Strovilia, in the southeastern part of the island.
Reppas said the act was, furthermore, a trick to divert the attention of the international community from the substance of discussions on the Cyprus issue.
Source: Athens News Agency