After talks with his Cyprus counterpart Markos Kyprianou here on Tuesday, Greece's Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas again asked Ankara to immediately begin withdrawing its occupation forces from the island and "contribute sincerely to finding a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue." He stressed that such a course of action would help Turkey further its ambitions of joining the European Union.

The minister underlined that if Turkey sincerely desired a solution, it must accept that the root cause of the Cyprus problem was the invasion and military occupation of the island and withdraw its forces.

Droutsas reported that his talks with Kyprianou had centred mainly on the efforts underway to solve the Cyprus problem.

Asked about his meeting with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon, Droutsas said that Athens expected the UN to be objective and maintain its 'good offices mission'. Expressing confidence in the UN secretary-general, the Greek foreign minister emphasised that the Greek Cypriot side and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, in particular, had shown a very constructive attitude and very good proposals made in a constructive spirit.

"Unfortunately, we do not discern or find this same constructive spirit on the other side, the side of [Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu]," he added.

"Solving the Cyprus problem is the greatest challenge faced by the Cyprus Republic but at the same time it is a priority for Greek foreign policy and a wager for full normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations," Droutsas stressed.

He underlined Greece's support for the efforts of the Cyprus Republic and Christofias to end the Turkish occupation in the north of the island, in the framework of finding a mutually acceptable, fair, viable and functional solution.

Droutsas said such a solution must be based on UNSC resolutions, be fully compatible with EU rules and principles, without pressing deadlines or arbitration and should take the form of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, a single sovereignty, a single nationality and a single international identity.

Commenting on the recent protests by Turkish Cypriots and the reactions in Ankara, the Greek minister said these were a sign of a non-viable situation in which the Turkish-Cypriots were suffering when they could be enjoying the economic and social benefits of EU membership.

The recent events in Egypt and the possible repercussions in the Middle East also occupied Droutsas and Kyprianou, who discussed possible initiatives on a bilateral level or in the EU.

Kyprianou said that the meeting with Droutsas continued the work done during the Greek minister's meeting on Monday with Christofias, as well as touching on regional issues such as Egypt and matters relating to the EU.

Earlier on Tuesday, Droutsas also had meetings with Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Marios Garoyian and the leaders of Cypriot political parties.