12 September, 2003
NICOSIA, 12/09/2003 (ANA - G. Leonidas)
Visiting Greek foreign minister George Papandreou on Thursday expressed his conviction that developments would soon bring the Cyprus issue back into the spotlight, particularly in view of an EU decision due in December 2004 on whether accession talks would begin with Turkey.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Cyprus House of Representatives speaker Dimitris Christofias, Papandreou said there was a "new dynamic, which is the result of the close cooperation between the governments of Greece and Cyprus and also of Cyprus' EU accession course".
Papandreou noted the rapprochement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and called Christofias a 'pioneer' of the process.
Christofias told reporters that he and Papandreou had reviewed the developments on the Cyprus issue and exchanged views for a common handling during their meeting.
Christofias praised the Greek government's role in the efforts for a Cyprus solution and the advancement of the accession course.
He stressed that a Cyprus solution would hinge on a change of stance by the Turkish side, and to some degree on the results of the upcoming elections in the Turkish Cypriot community.
Earlier, Papandreou was awarded the medal of National Martyr Kyprianos by the municipality of Strovolos and declared an honorary citizen of the town for his contribution to Cyprus struggles.
In presenting the medal, Strovolos mayor Savvas Iliofotou expressed the Cypriot people's appreciation for all that Papandreou had done, and continued to do, for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
Meanwhile, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis, who is accompanying Papandreou in Cyprus, said that the excellent relations between Athens and Nicosia and agreement on the past, present and future handlings in the Cyprus issue and Cyprus' EU accession had once again been reaffirmed during Papandreou's talks in the Cypriot capital.
Beglitis reiterated the basic position of the Athens and Nicosia governments in favor of resumption of talks between the two Cypriot communities on the basis of UN secretary general Kofi Annan's plan, with some specific changes that would bring it in line with the developments arising and make it more viable and functional.
The Greek foreign ministry spokesman added, however, that the philosophy of the plan would not change, noting that this aspect had been stressed during Papandreou's meeting Wednesday night with the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot political parties.
He said Papandreou had briefed the Turkish Cypriot party leaders on the developments in the EU and conveyed a message from the EU on the prospects that would open up and the benefits to ensue for the Turkish Cypriots from the accession of a reunited Cyprus, adding that the Turkish Cypriot politicians had displayed interest in a Cyprus solution based on the Annan plan.
Papandreou and the Greek delegation further attended a dinner in their honor hosted by Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos at his home.