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Media Watch 2003

26 May 2003
Source: Reuters
Author:
Comment: The following a report of Reuters on 26 March 2003.
Greece sees no point in reviving Cyprus talks now


ATHENS, May 26 (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Monday it made little sense to reopen talks on a plan for Cyprus reunification unless there were clear signs Turkish Cypriots could accept it.

Talks on the United Nations blueprint to end the island's decades-old division collapsed in March and only the internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot part signed an accession treaty with the European Union last month.

"The U.N. has made the proposal...and the Turkish Cypriot side does not accept this plan," Simitis told reporters after a meeting with Cypriot president Tassos Papadopoulos.

"If we started again without a change in the basic feature of the current situation -- (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash's effort to win recognition for the Turkish-Cypriot state -- we would undermine the U.N. procedure," he added.

"We should start negotiations the moment we have the conviction that there is a possibility for a positive development," he said, when asked whether Greek Cypriots should take the initiative to revive the talks.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey invaded the poorer northern one-third of the island in response to a Greek Cypriot coup backed by the military junta then ruling Greece. Some 30,000 Turkish troops remain in northern Cyprus which is only recognised by Ankara as a state.

Greece has squarely blamed Denktash for the failure of the effort to secure united Cyprus' entry into the EU in May 2004.

In a symbolic gesture, Turkish Cypriot authorities last month relaxed restrictions on movement of people north and south of a ceasefire line dividing the Mediterranean island, where two-thirds of the 750,000 population are Greek Cypriots.

Papadopoulos in an interview with Greek newspaper Ta Nea published on Monday dismissed the move as a publicity stunt which should not be confused with initiatives aimed at a settlement.

But he told the news briefing the move proved wrong the central assumption of the U.N. that the Greek and Turkish communities had to be kept apart.
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