Papandreou Tells Turkish Generals to Back Off

ANKARA (ANA/Reuters/BBC)–Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday discussed the course of Greek-Turkish relations–the Cyprus issue and other major international affairs with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Yakis. Papandreou–in a statement directed to the Turkish military–said that it should cease its attempts to resolve the problems of the divided island by attempting to force its will.

He was referring to statemen’s by top Turkish Generals who pledged support to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in opposing the UN Cyprus peace plan.

Papandreou–whose country currently enjoys the EU presidency–also expressed that Turkey would be able to be ready to join the EU in two years and that Greece supported and supports the candidacy and the European course of Turkey.

”The resolution of the Cyprus issue will further strengthen the course of Turkey to the European Union–which (Turkey) becomes even more important due to the crisis in Iraq,” Papandreou stressed–adding that ”we can resolve the Cyprus issue. We are very close”.

”Concerning the Cyprus issue–both Greece and Turkey have made mistakes. Erdogan has said so–we have said so. Let’s leave Cyprus free. We must be supporters not custodians,” Papandreou said.

Papandreou–speaking of Turkey’s argument–however–that the Cyprus issue ”is of the highest importance concerning security,” said ”I wonder what they mean. Which is the threat that Cyprus can pose–when the Annan plan refers to demilitarization and to specific prescriptions for the security of both sides."

Speaking of the possibility of a freeze in developmen’s on the Cyprus problem due to the crisis in Iraq–Papandreou said that this is all the more reason to ”resolve it even earlier”–since such a solution would contribute to the stability of the region–as well as the European integration of the region.

Commenting on a report by a Cypriot newspaper–which noted that the US would wish that a Greek-Turkish agreement is promoted as part of the Annan plan’s security arrangement–Papandreou said that this part of the plan is very significant–adding–however–that ”to a degree it has its (the proposal) autonomy within the framework of the Annan plan. We have a great opportunity to escape from preconceptions and stereo-types”.

In November of 2002–UN’s Kofi Annan put forth a peach plan that envisaged the establishment of a government with a 10-month rotating presidency to preside over the Greek and Turkish parts of the island.

The island has been divided since Turkish troops occupied the northern third in 1974–in response to a brief Greek Cypriot coup.

The 150-page document–proposes a common state made up of two equal component states in "indissoluble union–single Cypriot citizenship–a six-member presidential council proportional to the population of the two states,– two-chamber parliament–each chamber containing 48 members–territorial adjustmen’s lowering the Turkish Cypriot stake in the island from 36% to 28.5%–Cyprus to join the European Union and maintain special ties with Greece and Turkey.

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