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06 September, 2001
An optimistic dynamic has been created in the Cyprus issue for the first time, Greek foreign minister George Papandreou said late Tuesday in Nicosia.
"For the first time, and given the prospect of Cyprus' accession to the European Union, a new optimistic dynamic has been created for the first time on the Cyprus issue," Papandreou told a special late-night program on state television RIK titled "The hour of truth for Cyprus' future".
Papandreou, who Wednesday concludes a two-day visit to Cyprus for talks with the government and political party leaders, explained that in all his contacts with Turkish political officials he notes that Cyprus must be rendered "an example of cooperation and friendship" because "it is unacceptable that Athens and Ankara proceed to any cooperation while a part of Cyprus remains under (Turkish) occupation". "Turkey is fully aware that its way to Europe passes through Cyprus," the Greek FM added.
He said that the prospect of Cyprus' EU accession "weakens every argument by Turkey that the Cyprus problem was solved in 1974 (with the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island republic), and also creates a framework of security for the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike".
"With its EU accession, the entire European Union and international community will be behind Cyprus, while at the same time the three fundamental freedoms -- which are the basis of the EU's rationale -- are also consolidated," Papandreou said.
He said it was his belief that it had been made clear to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Turkish officials by numerous EU commissioners they have met with that the European Union could not sit around awaiting his decisions when millions of citizens from many countries that were slated to join the EU in 2002-2003 were expecting Cyprus' accession.
"We would be very pleased if there is a frank effort, on Denktash's part, to try to ensure certain matters, but within the framework of the United Nations resolutions and the framework of the EU rationale. We would consider that a great historic moment and it would help the Turkish Cypriots themselves as well as the relationship between Greece and Turkey" he added.
Turning to Greece's policy on Turkey, Papandreou described it as "the most dynamic policy followed by the country in recent years".
"I would be very easy for us to just sit around and accuse the other side, but such a policy would give the international community the impression that it was very difficult for Greeks and Turks to come to terms with each other and even more difficult for it to deal with a Cyprus solution," he explained.
Papandreou discussed the legal aspect of Cyprus' EU accession on Tuesday with Cyprus General Prosecutor Alecos Markides.
He told reporters after the meeting it was very important to keep constantly abreast of the legal aspects of both the Cyprus issue and Cyprus' accession course, as the course to EU membership also influenced the efforts for a Cyprus solution and the "acquis communautaire" must not be violated in resolving the Cyprus issue, while for the EU to accept the solution reached, that solution must be in line with the acquis communautaire.
Markides noted that while the Cyprus issue was a political problem, it was nevertheless linked with immense legal issues of international law and human rights.
UN mediator works to resume proximity talks despite Denktash intransigence:
Visiting Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou was briefed by the island republic's leadership on Wednesday over the latest efforts made by UN mediator Alvaro de Soto regarding the long-standing Cyprus problem, reiterating Athens' determination as far as the island's future is concerned.
The reference to de Soto was significant, as the UN general secretary's special mediator initially announced on Wednesday that stalled proximity talks between the two sides on the east Mediterranean island would resume on Sept. 12 in New York, following his contacts and invitations to Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
While Clerides has accepted the invitation, de Soto said, Denktash later noted at a press conference in occupied Nicosia a few hours later that there is "no common ground" for resumption of proximity talks.
"... on our part, we say that there is no common ground, despite the statements by Alvaro de Soto," he added.
In his earlier comments, Papandreou emphasized that Cyprus' European Union accession course was proceeding smoothly, with the island republic comfortably among the frontrunners for entry into the 15-nation bloc. "Our concerns because of the Turkish side's intransigence are justified," he added.
On his part, Kasoulides cautioned against lending weight to hypothetical scenarios vis-a-vis statements by Denktash.
Papandreou also spoke with a delegation of protesting students, who rallied outside the presidential mansion in Nicosia at the same time Clerides was meeting with the Greek foreign minister.
The protesters focused on what they called the oxymoron of promoting Greek-Turkish friendship while a third of Cyprus remained under Turkish military occupation.
"Greece's policy aims at the solution of the Cyprus problem with the most effective manner," Papandreou was quoted as telling the Cypriot students. He also clarified that he refers to and promotes "friendship among peoples" and not friendship with the occupation forces, adding that he believes this policy will bear fruit.
Source: Athens News Agency