30 June, 2006
There was no finalized arrangement for a joint meeting with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat when United Nations Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari visited Nicosia in early July, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said during the foreign ministry press briefing on Thursday.
"In any case, should [such a meeting] take place, it is important that is should lead to some specific result, because in this way the role of the UN is enhanced and this may create further prospects that move in the direction of re-launching a new effort [to solve the Cyprus issue]," he said.
He said Gambari was due in Athens on July 5 for talks with Greek officials and would also visit Cyprus and Turkey in an effort to explore the situation regarding the Cyprus issue and whether it would be possible to make use of talks on a technical level.
Koumoutsakos also stressed that the option of starting technical-level talks was still on the table and should be used, in response to questions on whether substantive talks might start within 2006.Asked to clarify a statement by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis that the Cyprus issue was not linked to the European Union, the spokesman reiterated that the solution of the Cyprus issue was a process that was underway at the U.N.
"The EU, of which the Cyprus Republic is a member, has set certain conditions and criteria for Turkey, as it has done for all candidate-countries, among which is the issue of fully implementing Customs Union that includes opening Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot ships and airplanes," Koumoutsakos said.
This was the issue that concerned the EU and there was not direct link between the two processes, he added.
He also dismissed further questions on press reports claiming that Athens had "undermined" Papadopoulos, saying these had been amply refuted by both Athens and Nicosia, while a recent meeting between the Cyprus and Greek foreign ministers had "easily shown the fact that the two governments are in constant communication and cooperation and are moving in the direction of achieving the same goal."
Meanwhile, according to reports from Nicosia, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher stressed the importance of Gambari's visit to the region and expressed hope that the UN official would be able to report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the two sides were prepared to make progress for a solution.
Source: Athens News Agency