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15 November, 2002
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, speaking at a press conference here after a European Socialist Party session, reiterated on Thursday that Greece and its European Union partners have confirmed that in no way is Cyprus' accession to the EU linked to a solution of its political problem.
Referring to the critical stand taken by Greek opposition parties, as well as deputies of his ruling PASOK party, Simitis said ''We harm the issue if he draw hasty conclusions'', adding that the Cypriots will play a leading role on the issue since it concerns them and requested ''before we state our position let's see how they (Cypriots) themselves will state their position.''
Simitis further said there was ample time for different prospects to be examined and to see what benefits Cyprus and Greece.
The prime minister categorically denied having any contact whatsoever with the winner of Turkey's recent elections Justice and Development Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, apart from that on November 4 which was a telephone one and during which he simply congratulated Erdogan for his victory.
Simitis was referring to statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel who had claimed that the two politicians had earlier contact.
He further clarified that with Erdogan he did not discuss ''either the proposals by Annan or the Cyprus issue.''
Commenting on whether Erdogan has the authority to talk with Greece on issues concerning Turkey, Simitis reminded that Erdogan heads the party which won the elections in Turkey, he has an absolute majority and this means and constitutes a token of his authority to negotiate on behalf of his country.
On Friday, Simitis will be having a meeting here in the afternoon with the leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican Popular Party Deniz Baykal and make statements to Greek reporters afterwards.
Simitis attended the European Socialist Party's session on ''The global responsibilities of unified Europe'' which focused on ways of enabling globalization to function for the benefit of all, regulating markets and institutions and paving the way for economic, social and environmental progress, justice, security, stability and peace.
The prime minister mentioned later that the issue of EU enlargement was discussed in this context, which concerns the countries of central Europe and the EU itself.
He further said the desire for enlargement is a common one, just like the assessment that decisions will be taken at the Copenhagen summit on enlargement without particular difficulties is also a common one, since the political will has been expressed.
Simitis also referred to difficulties the enlargement will have for the countries of central Europe, given that the general economic situation, as it appears in the EU, does not allow considerable funds to be used for cooperation and growth.
On the question of common agricultural policy, he said there has been a sum agreed on for the enlargement countries which is relatively small.
The issue of illegal immigration was another one Simitis referred to, which is an important one for the countries of central Europe which believe that the EU is in a position to contribute to a limitation of the phenomenon.
Simitis said the same countries are optimistic that during the Greek presidency many issues of interest to them will be promoted, since they are aware that Greece is a country which supported their accession to the EU.
He also met with Polands Prime Minister Leszek Miller.
Source: Athens News Agency