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20 February, 1998
In an interview with today's edition of the newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau", Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said progress on the Cyprus issue would ease the tense political climate between Greece and Turkey considerably.
He also called on Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to revise their negative position concerning Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
Mr. Papandreou said "accession negotiations provide the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey with a historic opportunity, given that the accession of Cyprus to the EU would constitute a bridgehead to Europe for them. For the Turkish Cypriots in particular, apart from economic advantages, the accession of Cyprus to the EU consolidates their incorporation into European institutions". On the question of the Turkish Cypriots' participation in accession negotiations, Mr. Papandreou said that "the government of Cyprus is working in this direction" and that the Greek government "urgently desires this." "We do not want the EU to become a field for Greek-Turkish confrontation. On the contrary, the EU should become a rostrum for reconciliation between the two peoples." Rejecting Turkish claims that Greece is doing everything it can to keep Turkey out of the EU, Mr. Papandreou said that "we have stated repeatedly that we desire Turkey's rapprochement with the EU.
This could mean something important for Greece, namely the achievement of a permanent detente in bilateral relations. Turkey belongs to Europe." Mr. Papandreou considers Turkey's accession prospect "self-evident", saying that "we are the last to close this door for it" and adding that "it is preventing its own self" due to shortfalls in the human rights sector due to the war against the Kurds and due to the dominant role played by the military in Turkey's political life. Replying to a question on a recent five-point proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, Mr. Papandreou said "there will be an official reply soon" by the Greek government to theTurkish proposals. He said that while Ankara rejects Greece's proposals for a step-by-step handling of problems, it is "trying to impose a dialogue on all its claims, even those directly offending international law or questioning the sovereignty of Greece." "There can be no negotiations on claims of such a kind. In such cases, Ankara must resort to the
International Court," he added.
Source: Athens News Agency