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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2002 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Remarks with Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Athens, Greece
November 4, 2002

FM PAPANDREOU (delivered in Greek): Good morning, first of all Iíd like to welcome my friend Marc Grossman who came from America to Athens for a speech tonight. We had the opportunity to discuss many important current issues of concern to us. We had a very good, constructive, and substantive discussion and I am always happy with our very good cooperation. The issues we had the opportunity to discuss were the developments in Iraq, at this point in the framework of the UN; second, the elections yesterday and the developments in Turkey; and certainly, the Cyprus issue and the course of the EU accession of Cyprus.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winner of the elections in Turkey, Mr. Erdogan and his party. I wish to stress that the Greek government looks forward to closely working with the new Turkish government. We want first of all to continue the Greek-Turkish rapprochement, which has given many important results. We wish to cooperate and to be able to take the leap ) if you wish - in our relations, by solving various long-term and historical problems such as the Cyprus problem.

Of course, Greece is determined to contribute to Turkey,s European course, and we will cooperate with the new Turkish government in order to be able to get the best possible results in Copenhagen. We are already working toward a decision for the setting of a date for the commencement of EU-Turkey accession talks. I wish to stress this, and certainly we soon hope to be able to have meetings with theTurkish government, the officials who will undertake all the relevant positions, in order to discuss all these issues.

Concerning the Cyprus issue, Greece supports, as always, Kofi Annan,s efforts. We will be in close contact with the Secretary General and his associate, Mr. De Soto. We had a substantive discussion about the framework in which Greece believes the proposal and solution of the Cyprus problem must be: a proposal and solution that will be in line with UN resolutions, and certainly, with the important fact that very soon Cyprus will be a member of the EU and thus must be functioning by EU standards, efficiently, with a unified representation and in line with the acquis communautaire. It is true that the time is very tight until December 12. We hope to have a solution before that date, but I can assure you that Greece will steadily contribute to finding a solution even after that time if there is no solution by then. I thank again Mr. Grossman for an excellent discussion and wish him a good trip.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: First of all let me thank you all for being here. Let me thank the Minister for his time today. It is certainly is an honor for me to be back in Greece. The Minister has accurately talked about the conversation we had. We focused on Iraq, on developments in Turkey, on relations between Turkey and Greece, and very importantly, also on the question of Cyprus.

On Iraq, I had the opportunity on behalf of Secretary Powell to report to the Minister on where things stand at the United Nations. I reported to the Minister that it is the purpose and intent of the United States to have a Security Council resolution in the United Nations as President Bush outlined on September 12.

And I reported to the Minister that the reason we remain so committed to a resolution at the United Nations, that is a tough resolution, a fierce resolution, is that it is our belief that a united Security Council passing a strong resolution is the best way to avoid conflict with Iraq.

We believe that those, like the United States, who wish to avoid a conflict with Iraq should vote for the toughest resolution possible in New York.

The Minister has spoken about our conversation on Turkey. We, like the Minister and Greece, believe that Turkey is a democracy. Like Greece, Turkey is a member of NATO. The Turkish people have the right to choose who will be their leaders. We, like Greece, look forward to working with the new Turkish government.

We also discussed, as the Minister said, the opportunities that exist for Greece and for the United States, the European Union, Turkey, and Cyprus, between now and December 12. The Minister very eloquently talked about Greece,s policy in this regard. I would just say that we hope that Turkey can continue to be brought closer and closer toward the West through its closer and closer association with the European Union. We also hope that this time between now and December 12 will be taken advantage of by everyone and that we can come closer and closer to a settlement in Cyprus.

I also associate myself with the Ministerís comments that setting a date for Turkey on December 12 will be a further encouragement to keep Turkey tied to the West and on the path to the European Union. And finally may I also say that I repeated to the Minister our view that we support Cyprus, accession to the European Union. We believe that that accession process is an incentive to solving the Cyprus problem, we support the efforts of the UN Secretary General, and certainly we support the historic decision that the European Union took in Helsinki in December 1999.

And may I simply conclude by thanking the Minister again for his hospitality and for his time.

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