NEWS

Simitis will take Cyprus case to EU

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit European capitals in the next three months ahead of the EU summit in Copenhagen in order to help pave the way for Cyprus’s EU accession, he said yesterday. Simitis met with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides in Athens yesterday. The two of them held talks for 30 minutes before being joined by their delegations. Clerides briefed Simitis on the talks he held in New York earlier this month with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. The talks in Athens focused on the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and Cyprus’s moves toward EU membership. The EU’s Copenhagen summit in December is to decide on the accession of Cyprus and nine other candidates. Before that, Simitis will visit London, Paris, Berlin and Rome. «The reason for this is the preparation of the Copenhagen summit,» Simitis said after his meeting with Clerides. «Our conclusion is that significant progress has been made in the positions of the Greek-Cypriot side. We have set out our positions, but, on the other hand, Mr Denktash remains intransigent. Ankara’s position is negative and therefore, despite our constructive proposals, there was no progress,» Simitis said. Annan is expected to present a package of proposals on the Cyprus issue between the Turkish elections of November 3 and the EU summit on December 13. This has been complicated by the ill health of Denktash. He underwent heart surgery on October 7 and is expected to be out of action for two months from that date. «Both governments felt the need to have an in-depth discussion and exchange of opinions because of the crucial developments. We did that today,» Clerides said. «We are in complete agreement.» Simitis repeated the EU decision that Cyprus’s division would not prohibit it from joining the EU. New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said after his meeting with Clerides: «There has to be a final decision on enlargement at Copenhagen, without footnotes, without asterisks, without blackmail at the last moment. And I want to stress with great emphasis that there can be no enlargement without Cyprus.»