Athens, Nicosia agree on Ankara

Greece and Cyprus have forged a common stance on Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, the two government’s leaders said in Athens yesterday without revealing any details about the agreement. «We have agreed on a framework of common stances and we have coordinated our next steps,» Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said following talks with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos. Details of the agreement are to be revealed at next week’s scheduled session of the EU’s Council of Permanent Representatives in Brussels, Karamanlis added. However, the Greek PM also indicated that no major policy shifts had occurred: «We remain steadfast in our positions because we believe they serve our national interests and reflect the desire of our people for peace and stability.» «Of course, we are taking the new developments into consideration,» Karamanlis added, in an evident reference to Turkey’s recent declaration that it would not recognize Cyprus ahead of scheduled accession talks in October. (The declaration was attached to a customs protocol signed by Turkey at the end of July to extend its agreement to all 25 EU members). Papadopoulos echoed the Greek premier in statements to the press following their talks: «We have laid out our strategy and the tactics we will follow… to best promote a solution to the Cyprus problem.» The Cypriot leader also met with opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, who subsequently accused the Greek government of straying from the «road map» toward a Cyprus solution, which the previous, Socialist government, had drawn up with EU officials in Helsinki in 1999.