NEWS

PM urges Turks not to meddle in Cyprus

Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday assured visiting Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias of Greece’s support for ongoing efforts to reunify the divided island and appealed to Ankara not to intervene in United Nations-mediated talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. «It is time Turkey displayed the courage to unbind the Turkish-Cypriot community and thus contribute to the process of reaching a settlement,» Papandreou told reporters during a joint press conference with Christofias at the Maximos Mansion. «Solving the Cyprus problem is in the interests of everyone – Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkey and Greece,» he added. The Greek premier also told reporters that he would respond to a letter from his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the next few days and invite him to Athens for talks on the Cyprus problem and other issues of bilateral concern. According to sources, some of these matters were addressed yesterday in talks between Erdogan and President Karolos Papoulias on the sidelines of an international conference on energy efficiency in Abu Dhabi. Erdogan raised the thorny issue of the Muslim population of Thrace, the sources said, adding that Papoulias briefed Erdogan on Greece’s position on Cyprus talks. In comments after his talks with Christofias yesterday, Papandreou indicated that Athens has the same stance as Nicosia. «The Cyprus problem is primarily a problem of occupation by Turkey,» he said. Both Papandreou and Christofias criticized the latest proposals by Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat as being «negative» and departing from the principle of a bizonal, bicommunal federation that has been the basis of UN-mediated talks.