10 February, 2004
Greece and Cyprus on Monday reaffirmed their full identity of views on matters concerning the course of UN-brokered Cyprus talks as well as on the issues of substance, during a meeting in Athens between Greek prime minister Costas Simitis and visiting Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos.
The target remained of reaching a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions, the EU 'acquis communautaire', and full respect of human rights, Simitis told reporters after a meeting with Papadopoulos, who arrived in Athens Sunday night for consultations with the Greek political leadership before continuing on to New York for the commencement of Cyprus negotiations under UN secretary general Kofi Annan's auspices.
Simitis said that the Greek and Greek Cypriot sides had considered today's consultation necessary following Annan's invitation to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides for the immediate resumption of Cyprus negotiations, and noted the tight timetable put forward by the UN chief, which he said coincided with the pre-electoral period in Greece.
With respect to the Security Guarantees, Simitis said that the issue would be handled by the new Greek government to emerge from the March 7 general elections, adding that the renewal of the popular mandate on the national issue of Cyprus was the reason that early elections had been called.
Simitis stressed that Turkey and the Denktash regime must now prove that they genuinely desired a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem. A solution, he added, that would enable a termination of the Turkish military occupation of the northern part of the island republic and the accession of a reunified Cyprus into the European Union.
Today’s session of parliament, which would ratify the Accession Treaties of the 10 new EU member states, including Cyprus, that were signed last year in Athens, was the crowning point of that entire effort, Simitis said.
Papadopoulos, in turn, noted the firm policy of the Greek Cypriot side to respond to every invitation of the UN chief for consultations on the Cyprus problem.
He said a serious and voluminous effort had been made, and expressed the Cypriot people's gratitude towards the Greek government and political world for the major achievement of Cyprus' EU accession. "Without Greece's effort, Cyprus would not have been in the happy position of becoming an equal member of the EU," Papadopoulos said.
Visiting Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos met Monday in Athens with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis in view of the new momentum developing on the Cyprus issue and Cyprus' imminent full membership in the EU.
Karamanlis said that the basic national aspiration was the finding of a just and viable functional solution in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the EU 'acquis communautaire'.
He said that the Greek Cypriot side had repeatedly displayed its good intent, adding that it was the obligation of the Turkish Cypriot side to abandon its negation and delaying tactics and enter into negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan.
''We are at the side of the Cypriot Hellenism, in the struggle they are waging,'' Karamanlis said, adding that the forging of a uniform national strategy on the national issues was necessary, and noting that that was the reason why ND had persisted on the need for setting up a National Council on foreign policy and the convening of the Council of Political Leaders under the President of the Republic.
Regardless of whether there was identity of views, consultation was necessary in the efforts and the struggle being waged, he added.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday in New York that the people of Cyprus have an historic opportunity to unify their country and enter the European Union together with great economic and social benefits for them, noting that a unified Cyprus entering the EU will really help reduce tensions in the Aegean region, will improve relations all around in the region and it will also facilitate Turkey's entry into Europe.
Speaking on arrival at UN Headquarters, Annan referred to Tuesday's
meeting in New York with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, saying that he has made proposals to them, adding that ''we don't have much time if we are going to meet the deadline of May 1,'' when Cyprus will officially become an EU member.
''It means we will have to finish the negotiations by [the] end of March to be able to have the referendum in April. So we will discuss all this to see if the parties are prepared to engage and to sustain the effort for us to ensure that a united Cyprus enters the EU on the 1st of May,'' he added.
Source: Athens News Agency