Cem undercuts Nicosia talks with letter to EU

Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with Secretary of State Colin Powell in Salt Lake City, at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics, over the weekend and with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The meetings came before Papandreou’s visit to Istanbul tomorrow, where he and his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, are to discuss exploratory contacts between the two ministries to determine a framework for settling differences between Greece and Turkey. Papandreou and Powell mainly discussed the Middle East. With Annan, Papandreou discussed the latest developments in the ongoing direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Meanwhile, Athens reacted in a low-key manner to a letter that Cem sent to the EU’s 15 foreign ministers and which was made public at their meeting in Caceres, Spain on Saturday. In it, Cem insisted that the political solution to the Cyprus problem is the recognition of two separate states. He also demanded progress in Turkey’s bid to join the EU. «The letter does nothing but repeat Turkey’s position. It came at a time that the Cyprus dialogue is underway. Personally, I think it was not a correct move on Turkey’s part,» said Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis.

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