© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
29 November, 2002
The prospects for a Cyprus solution and Greece's stance on Iraq were the focus of an interview by Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou with CNN International.
Papandreou, who gave the interview shortly before leaving Washington at the end of a two-day visit and talks with US government officials, said that Greece accepted positively the 'historic' initiative of UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
He expressed his conviction that the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots could co-exist peacefully in a unified Cyprus, which was divided in 1974 with Turkey's military invasion in and occupation of the northern sector of the island republic.
Papandreou noted that increased support for a solution of the Cyprus issue was evident also among the Turkish Cypriots, and cited a huge rally held recently in the occupied territories that sent a message in favor of a Cyprus solution and Europe. In that context, he pointed out that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was stalling and not proceeding with the due speed.
Greece, he continued, desired a solution as quickly as possible, by December 12, when the EU summit that would decide on Cyprus' accession was scheduled. But if that did not prove feasible, he added, the momentum for a solution must be maintained, and Turkey must be kept on a European course, which he said was important for Greece, Cyprus and the EU as well.
On the issue of Iraq, Papandreou said that Greece backed the UN Security Council decisions and considered as ''very constructive and effective'' US secretary of state Colin Powell's personal contribution to the Security Council's unanimous approval of the resolution on Iraq, which he said sent a clear message on the weapons of mass destruction with which Saddam Hussein must conform.
''We must await (Chief U.N. inspector) Hans Blix's report, and the hope is that military action will not be required and that a diplomatic solution will prevail,'' the Greek foreign minister continued.
"We shall examine our options when the time comes," Papandreou said.
He further said that Greece, as a US ally and the next president of the EU, would be in close contact with Washington, in cooperation with its EU partners, on the important decisions that needed to be taken.
In another interview with the television network C-SPAN, replying to questions by viewers from all over the US, Papandreou stressed the importance of EU expansion and the opportunity provided to the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots by Cyprus' imminent EU accession.
He also spoke on Turkey's European prospects and the need for Turkey to implement the Copenhagen criteria.
Papandreou further expressed hope for a peaceful solution to the Iraq problem, and noted the EU's contribution to the Middle East peace process.
He also spoke on the future of European unification and the need to condemn anti-semitism, as well as on the disbanding of the elusive 'November 17' terrorist group in Greece, preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the priority placed by Greece on the Games' security, and advancement of the Olympic Truce.
Source: Athens News Agency