Greece, Cyprus watch Turks’ intentions

Foreign Minister George Papandreou and visiting Cypriot Defense Minister Socrates Hasikos yesterday agreed that their two countries’ foreign and defense ministers should hold regular joint meetings, on the understanding that defense and foreign policy are interrelated, as Hasikos put it. Papandreou, who is to visit the island next week, said that he expected significant developments on the Cyprus issue soon, because of the current initiative by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to get negotiations going again. But, Papandreou noted, we do not, at this moment, have tangible results. The two ministers said also that there was a possibility, however remote, that a crisis could erupt with Turkey as Cyprus drew closer to accession to the European Union. They said that their two governments were working closely to avert this. Certainly, the possibility of an incident – and I would not like to determine it as big or small – is very distant but also real, Hasikos said. Papandreou added that the two governments were paying attention to all statements issued by Turkey on the issue. We evaluate them, we take them seriously and we prepare for all eventualities. But this does not mean that we should go into details on this issue, he said. Referring to criticism by Cypriot and Greek sportsmen and parties of the agreement by the Greek and Turkish soccer federations to frame a joint bid to host the finals of the Euro 2008 soccer championship, Papandreou said: I think that such initiatives show something very simple, that it is absurd at this time that Cyprus should remain under occupation, when Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots could work together and live together in a united Cyprus.

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