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Media Watch 2003

19 September 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 19 September 2003.
Papandreou and Powell see 'great opportunity' for Cyprus

GREEK Foreign Minister George Papandreou discussed Cyprus and next year’s “great opportunity” for a settlement, during meetings in Washington with Secretary of State Colin Powell and other administration officials.

Papandreou also met National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and the State Department’s special coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston.

He told newsmen after his meeting with Powell: “We spoke about Cyprus. A great opportunity is opening up in front of us next year, within the next few months, to possibly see a united Cyprus within a united Europe.

“This would, of course, also help Turkey’s accession ambitions and we can make this a win-win situation. So we discussed this in some detail."

Replying to questions, Papandreou said “possible initiatives” were discussed but he did not elaborate. However, he noted that Weston was continuing his efforts “and we hope conditions will mature for us to support again the UN Secretary-General in his own initiatives to solve the Cyprus problem."

He talked to Powell about his recent visit to the island and his meeting with Turkish Cypriot politicians and noted that there was “a new momentum on the ground” since Turkish Cypriots wanted to be part of the European Union.

“All these are seen within the framework of Turkey’s course towards the EU, something the US knows very well."

Cyprus is due to join the EU next May, while Turkey seeks to secure, by the end of 2004, a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU. These developments offered an opportunity for “new initiatives."

He told Condoleeza Rice that America’s constant support for the U N efforts on Cyprus and US insistence on a solution within the lines of the UN resolutions would substantially contribute to a settlement.

Weston told newsmen after his meeting with Papandreou that the US and Greece had a “great coincidence” of views on all aspects relating to the Cyprus issue and the way ahead.

He said the US was working towards the re-commencement of the UN good offices mission, a return to talks and the movement towards a referendum in a time-scale that would permit a settlement by May 1.

“Whether these talks start now or after December, the important point is that they start in sufficient time to permit a settlement by May 1."

The American envoy said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was “very firm” in his position that the peace process could recommence only when there was the necessary expression of political will by the Turkish Cypriot community leader, by the Greek Cypriot community leader and at a high political level of both Greece and Turkey.

This was the position unanimously supported by the Security Council, he added.

Papandreou said Turkey’s position on the Cyprus issue would be one of the basic criteria that would be considered when Ankara’s European course came up for evaluation December 2004.

The two men also exchanged views on the forthcoming elections among Turkish Cypriots and the meetings which Greek, Turkish and Cypriot officials will have in New York next week during the General Assembly session."