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04 February, 2002
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem here on Sunday for a brief meeting that included an overview of the latest developments in the long-standing Cyprus issue.
"... We had a chance to review the latest developments, especially in regards to the Cyprus issue, where both sides wanted ... to encourage the continuation of this process."
Papandreou told reporters that his contacts with Cem also focused on Athens' proposal for the commencement of exploratory contacts at the foreign ministry department heads' level "in order to find points of convergence."
Such "exploratory contacts", he added, would be aimed at "examining whether convergence on certain points" exists. He made the statement in response to a query if any specific issue, such as the Aegean's continental shelf, was discussed.
"Our discussion also revolved around our bilateral cooperation. We discussed an initiative that we've jointly taken to support Bulgaria and Romania as countries that are eligible for NATO, and in the next (NATO) summit meeting we want them to be designated as NATO candidate-states," the Greek FM told reporters.
He also mentioned that a joint bid by the Greek and Turkish football federations to host the 2008 Euro championship was discussed.
Finally, Papandreou said he conveyed his condolences to Cem over the loss of life from an earthquake that struck west-central Turkey earlier in the day, noting that Greece was ready to assist in any way Ankara deems necessary.
Brief meeting on Friday:
Papandreou held a brief meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem on Friday and agreed to have a private and lengthy discussion with him on bilateral relations during the World Economic Forum taking place here.
Papandreou said the Greek government has instructed senior diplomats to begin exploratory contacts to ascertain the possibility of resolving the continental shelf issue, as well as other major issues not related to territorial disputes, such as the question of the Patriarchate.
The talks will be conducted on Greece's behalf by the foreign ministry's civil director, who will be discussing with his Turkish counterpart the possibility of drawing up an agreement based on a common framework to enable these issues to be settled by the International Court at The Hague.
Papandreou said the whole framework should be based on specific principles, such as respect for territorial integrity, international treaties, international law and European vested interests, as well as paragraph 4 of the Helsinki summit agreement and all that it anticipates.
He underlined the existence of an "unprecedented change" to the degree that certain agreements have been ratified in Parliament. He further said that the beginning of direct talks in Cyprus and its accession course have changed the entire scene, while Turkey's European candidacy sets out a "road map" containing the country's commitments.
Papandreou participated in a round-table discussion on Friday (together with Cem and other officials) on the issue of Europe's possibility of defining and exercising a unified foreign policy.
His position, as well as that of his interlocutors, was that Europe is going ahead with a unified foreign policy and should strengthen its security by further developing its military power and consolidating its cohesion at operational level.
Source: Athens News Agency