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14 March, 2001
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou spent the last morning of his three-day visit to Cyprus on Tuesday with a tour of the Paphos district, where he was earlier declared an honorary citizen.
He described Paphos as the outermost limit of Europe in the southeast Mediterranean, and said it could play an important role in the European Union's relations with the Middle East.
Accompanied by Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis, he then presented the Olympic truce program at the Paphos lyceum with Olympic medallists Costas Panou and Michalis Mouroutsos.
During the course of the tour, Papandreou visited both a Orthodox Christian monastery and a mosque, while he stressed that the restoration of the latter by the Cyprus government indicated its readiness and willingness to reunite the island and to become a member of the European Union.
"We are talking," Papandreou said, "about a multicultural Europe. This is why EU accession is a guarantee of a free Cyprus. Past history has often demonstrated peoples' fear of difference. But a new age has now begun in the region, where without fear and with respect for differences, we can turn diversity into strength."
Asked about the participation of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in the EU accession negotiations, Papandreou stressed that the accession course was in the interests of both communities on Cyprus.
Papandreou is due to return to Athens on Tuesday evening.
Source: Athens News Agency