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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-02-22

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papoulias receives visiting Cyprus President Papadopoulos

  • [01] Papoulias receives visiting Cyprus President Papadopoulos

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias met Thursday with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, who is on a working visit to Athens, as meetings with practically all Greek political leaders have been scheduled.

    On the same day, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros noted that the policy being exercised by the government in foreign affairs "is a responsible policy, safeguards national interests, and advances our positions at all levels".

    The spokesman's statement came in reply to main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's statement after his meeting a day earlier with Papadopoulos, where he said there was a need for a national policy on the Cyprus issue.

    Asked whether Athens considered as a "burden" on its policy Nicosia's initiative to explore for oil deposits -- prompted by a statement by Papadopoulos that he did not want to burden Athens with Cyprus' concerns -- Antonaros reiterated that "the Republic of Cyprus is an independent and sovereign state and, as such, has the inalienable right to undertake initiatives".


    Emerging from a meeting with visiting Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis charged that Turkey of employing "delaying tactics" on the Cyprus issue and failing to make sufficient progress in adapting to EU standards and rules.

    "We cannot see progress where it does not exist," Karamanlis underlined, while stressing that Athens was working actively in this direction.

    He also reaffirmed Greece's support for efforts to achieve a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, based on the decisions of the United Nations and European values and principles.

    Karamanlis said his talks with Papadopoulos had focused on the Cyprus issue, relations with Turkey and oil exploration rights in the Mediterranean. The Cyprus president said the meeting, which was also attended by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas, was yet another routine contact in the framework of cooperation between the two governments.

    In response to press questions, Papadopoulos referred to the problems that arose with Turkey after Cyprus announced plans to hold a tender for oil exploration rights in Mediterranean waters off its southern coast, repeating that Cyprus was exercising its sovereign territorial rights on the basis of international law.

    The Cyprus president confirmed that the issue was discussed with Karamanlis, even though this was not on the agenda for the meeting. "It would be unnatural if it were not discussed," he said.

    The next step would be decided later, if and when oil reserves were discovered, he added.

    Questioned about an agreement with Lebanon to delineate an exclusive economic zone for the oil exploration deals - and why Athens had not been informed beforehand - the Cyprus president said that the negotiations with Lebanon had proceeded extremely rapidly, so that Athens was only informed after the deal was signed.

    On the same issue, Karamanlis said that the Cyprus Republic could exercise its rights under international law, just as any other sovereign state.

    Commenting on Turkey's reaction, the Greek premier stressed that Athens wished to normalise Greek-Turkish relations but that Turkey was also judged by its behaviour. He pointed out that Turkey was bound on a European level to maintain good neighbourly relations and avoid resorting to tension and threats.

    Ankara reacted angrily when Cyprus announced plans to open a tender for oil exploration licensing rights on February 15, on the grounds that Greek-Cypriots will claim all potential benefits for themselves and deny them to the Turkish-Cypriots in the occupied northern third of Cyprus. It urged eastern Mediterranean countries to avoid bilateral agreements for energy exploration with the Cyprus government.

    Cyprus has signed accords defining its continental shelf with Egypt and Lebanon. Effectively delineating sea boundaries for economic exploitation, the agreements have allowed Nicosia to define 13 sea zones where further research will be carried out.

    Asked whether Greece and Cyprus were also holding talks on delineating sea borders and defining exclusive economic zones, both leaders replied that all issues were discussed between Athens and Nicosia. According to Karamanlis, however, "other factors linked to these issues are also taken into account".

    Also high on the agenda for the Karamanlis-Papadopoulos talks were developments within the European Union, both in terms of Turkey's progress toward fulfilling EU accession criteria and with respect to a regulation for direct trade with the Turkish-Cypriots in occupied northern Cyprus, which is still pending.

    Papadopoulos said that Cyprus is working systematically to achieve the goals of the agreement of 24th April 2004, which called for financial assistance to the Turkish-Cypriot community and economic integration that will lead to the island's re-unification.

    Karamanlis reiterated that the Turkish-Cypriot community's development should not deepen the division of the island but take place in ways that favour re-unification, while stressing that the so-called "isolation" of Turkish-Cypriots was "the result of invasion and occupation".

    The two leaders also discussed the prospects of implementing the "July 8 Agreement" brokered last year by UN under-secretary general Ibrahim Gambari, under which the Cyprus government and the head of the Turkish Cypriot community Ali Talat agreed to begin a process of bicommunal talks on issues affecting the day-to-day life of people on Cyprus, concurrently with more difficult issues linked to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    The Cyprus president arrived in Athens on Tuesday night on a working visit, during which he will also meet the heads of the political parties in Athens and Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias.

    Caption: Greek President Karolos Papoulias, left, greets the President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007, at the presidential mansion. ANA-MPA / M. Marogianni.

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