Politics: PM confers with visiting Cyprus President

Prime minister George Papandreou and visiting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on Thursday discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus issue following recent talks held by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon with Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu in Geneva.

Describing the meeting with Christofias as "crucial", Papandreou expressed hope that the Turkish-Cypriot side will "finally respond to his well-known proposals for an honest and mutual compromise, in the framework of a negotiation without pressing deadlines and arbitration"

Papandreou and Christofias called on Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to display a constructive stance and refrain from putting forward issues that are not part of the Cyprus reunification process, relevant UN resolutions and the agreements reached between the leaders of the two communities on Cyprus.

"We look for a just solution that will end the occupation and settlement and the outdated guarantee formations," Papandreou added.

The premier also stressed Greece's steadfast support for the Cyprus government, saying that the Cyprus issue remained a top priority of Greek foreign policy and that Greek-Turkish relations could not be normalised until it was solved.

Christofias expressed hope that a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue that will be acceptable to all Cypriots may be found by the end of 2011.

He noted that the Cyprus government's stance in Geneva had indicated its willingness to "proceed in a practical and effective way" to find such a solution and that it was now up to Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to do the same.

He criticised the Turkish-Cypriots for insisting on positions that were not in UN resolutions and past agreements, especially its refusal to link the territorial, settlement and property issues, which he stressed were key to a meaningful negotiation. Christofias said this refusal was a deliberate delaying tactic designed to lead the talks to a deadlock and ensure four-way talks on Cyprus' internal affairs.

Other issues discussed during the meeting were the positions that Greece and Cyprus would adopt during upcoming the EU summit on energy policy.

According to Papandreou the two countries had "converging interests" in this area and were closely coordinating their policy on both energy and on delineating marine zones. Christofias stressed that it was up to each country to "exercise its territorial rights that arise from maritime law" and urged a low-key approach, noting that the handling of energy issues "requires more deeds than words".

The third major issue discussed were developments in Egypt, with both sides expressing hope for a smooth transition.

The Greek premier stressed that the Egyptian people wanted change and freedoms, adding that the transition to democracy should be made with stability and without violence. Emphasising "Greece and Cyprus as neighbouring countries but also as members of the EU have a special role in contributing to a smooth transition," he added, noting that Greece would continue talks and take every initiative in this direction.

Christofias, on his part, expressed hope for a positive outcome, pointing out that the "volatile situations in the region affect us all".

Cyprus' president also thanked the premier for the Hellenic Airforce's assistance to Cypriot citizens who had asked to be evacuated from Egypt.

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