FM in Cyprus for talks, first visit abroad after assumption of duties

Cyprus and the Cyprus issue are a top priority for the Greek government, Greece's new foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis said on Saturday during a lighting visit to Cyprus, his first trip abroad after assuming the helm of the foreign ministry the previous day.

Following his arrival at Larnaca Airport at noon Lambrinidis, a Greek MP until his appointment to the foreign ministry, headed directly to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' summer residence in the village of Kellaki, where he attended a working lunch and was briefed by Christofias on the course of negotiations on the Cyrus issue ahead of the Cypriot President's July 7 meeting in Geneva with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

On Saturday afternoon, the discussion on the Cyprus issue continued at the Cypriot foreign ministry where Lambrinidis met with his Cypriot counterpart Marcos Kyprianou.

The two foreign ministers also discussed European Union issues as well as the situation in the wider region.

In statements to the press after the talks, Lambrinidis said he felt moved and a sense of responsibility on being in Cyprus, adding that the visit was not only for symbolic but also substantial reasons. He was in Cyprus to be briefed and also for coordination and essential cooperation between the two countries, adding that his aim is for that cooperation to become even stronger.

He further stressed that, in this cooperation, the policy does not change when the ministers change.

Lambrinidis recalled that, as Europarliament vice-president and head of the ruling PASOK's parliamentary group in the European Parliament, he had worked with Christofias and Kyprianou and with politicians from all the Cypriot parties to advance, "with particular success in most cases", Cyprus' interests and the interests of Europe, but also "if a successful solution is reached" the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, as well...the interests of the region.

The Greek foreign minister described the ongoing negotiations on the Cyprus issue as "exceptionally sensitive" and reaffirmed that the struggle Greece and Cyprus are waging is for a comprehensive and mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue based on the resolutions of the UN and Cyprus' capacity as an EU member country.

Lambrinidis said he and Christofias also discussed the economic situation in Greece, and assured that" the efforts being made in the country today, under the George Papandreou government and with its determination, will result in the solution of all the economic matters that today appear to some as being catastrophic".

"It is not an easy course," he said, adding that about one and a half years ago everyone was betting that Greece would collapse, and continuing that those who did so have lost much and will continue to lose.

"Greece is determined to take all the measures needed and exit the crisis," Lambrinidis assured.

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