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Media Watch 2003

12 September 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Alex Efthyvoulos
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 12 September 2003
Accession provides new impetus - Papandreou

THE accession of Cyprus to the EU has created a new impetus for a settlement, which must be based on compliance with the EU acquis and constitution, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday.

"The procedure of Cyprus's accession to the EU has been finalised and it is this new reality that has created a new impetus for a settlement," he told a news conference.

He was summing up his impressions following his series of meetings with President Papadopoulos, Greek Cypriot party leaders and a ground-breaking first-ever meeting with Turkish Cypriot opposition leaders.

Papandreou kept stressing in all his public statements that, because of Cyprus's EU membership, a settlement must conform to the EU acquis.

Compliance with the EU constitution would be "the best way for a Cyprus settlement,'' and joining the EU family would provide "more security than occupation armies," he said.

Expanding on this, he stressed that compliance with the EU constitution "is a great challenge that opens a new perspective, not only on the participation of Cyprus in the EU, but also the way that a settlement will finally be achieved."

"We can now look to the future with a difference, with confidence as this impetus has brought specific results generating (opinion) positively for a solution of the Cyprus problem.

"Not only on the part of the Cyprus government, and the Greek Cypriots, who were always at the forefront in the struggle for reunification of the island and a solution of the Cyprus problem but because it has generated the hope among the Turkish Cypriots themselves that Greek and Turkish Cypriots can live together, under one Cypriot, one European roof," he told the news conference.

Papandreou said the crossing of the unofficial border by tens of thousands of people visiting the other side since the lifting of travel restrictions by the Turkish side last April "destroyed some taboos, the argument of Denktash and Turkish officials on the need to have two states in Cyprus because Greek and Turkish Cypriots cannot live together."

"I assured the Turkish Cypriot opposition leaders that we want the Turkish Cypriots to become part of the greater European family and to become active citizens of the EU.''

Referring to Turkey Papandreou said that ``Greece has opened the door for her to join the EU. It is Greece that is struggling for a European Turkey, and we believe that through this process we can overcome the historical problems between our countries.''

"We have heard repeatedly from Turkey of its readiness to settle the Cyprus problem, we hope that this desire becomes a reality," he said.

He said the decision of the EU on whether to grant Turkey a date for opening its own accession negotiations will depend also on whether it contributes positively to a Cyprus settlement.

Papandreou described as "very moving and interesting'' the gathering of people from both sides at the Ledra Palace Wednesday night to discuss the impact of education.

"These moving moments followed the equally moving moments during the previous months after the opening of the Green Line," he said.

The partial restoration of freedom of movement by the Turkish side and the resulting crossing by tens of thousands of people "led to the collapse of certain taboos which formed the basis of the insistence by Denktash, and certain Turkish officials, that we need separate states and a divided Cyprus because the Greek and Turkish Cypriots cannot coexist.""