Premier pushes for ‘will’ on Cyprus

Prime Minister George Papandreou met yesterday with Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and reiterated Greece’s support for Nicosia’a efforts to make progress in peace talks with the Turkish Cypriots while urging Ankara to display the will for a solution. «We back Christofias’s efforts in the hope that the Turkish-Cypriot side will respond to his overture for an honorable solution,» Papandreou said after talks with the visiting Cyprus leader. «It is they who must demonstrate the will to contribute to a serious solution,» the prime minister said, referring to Ankara and the Turkish-Cypriot community. Papandreou reiterated that the Cyprus problem remains «a top priority in Greek foreign policy,» adding that without its resolution, «there can be no full normalization of Greek-Turkish relations.» In comments made in Parliament later yesterday, Christofias stressed that any solution would have to include «an element of compromise.» «We want compromise with the Turkish Cypriots, not occupation,» said Christofias in his first address before Greece’s Parliament. Christofias said that the ideal settlement envisaged by Nicosia remained a «bizonal, bicommunal federation,» but he noted that he and the Turkish-Cypriot leader, hardliner Dervis Eroglu, disagreed about what would constitute this. «Our differences are still on the table,» he said. Christofias added that a solution would have to be based on «the departure of occupying forces from the island and the end of any form of foreign dependence.» Christofias’s visit to Athens followed his three-way talks in New York with Eroglu and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The three men agreed to make efforts to speed up the process of peace talks and to meet again at the end of January in Geneva.