Special grreporter.info correspondent in Nicosia
If Ankara is isolated from becoming an EU member, then its position will become tougher and the Cyprian problem will remain unsolved for a long time. This conclusion was made by the Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and the Cyprian President Dimitris Christofias during their meeting today in the presidential palace in Nicosia. The two leader had a tête-à-tête meeting and later on they were joined by the Foreign Ministers of both countries Dora Bakoyanni and Markos Kyprianou and the two official delegations.
On the official press conference, which Karamanlis and Christofias gave for many Greek, Cyprian and Turkish journalists, they admitted that the main topic of discussion was the course of the Turkish Cypriot negotiations. Both leaders limited the press conference to general comments and avoided answering specific questions from the prearranged daily program. “We reached an agreement slower than we expected. From the beginning we knew that the negotiations will be hard. Despite all the difficulties we will continue negotiating until we find an acceptable solution for one federal republic with a common government, united nationality and united government,” said the President of the Republic of Cyprus Dimitris Christofias.
The second topic of discussion between the Greek and Cyprian officials was the Turkish membership in the EU. Both sides believe that this is the biggest motif for Ankara to solve the Cyprian problem. “We are keeping the European perspective for Turkey, because this is the biggest guarantee for its modernization, for solving the Cyprian problem and for setting European regulations in Ankara’s foreign policies,” said Kostas Karamanlis. He stressed that in order for Turkey to become a member of the EU, it needs to fulfill all conditions, including normalizing its relationship with Cyprus and to open its ports and airports for Cyprian companies. “It is a huge bet. One European Turkey will be a conquest for all,” concluded the Prime Minister.
Despite their agreement on the general strategic goal – accepting Turkey into the EU, Athens and Nicosia differ in their tactics. Nicosia is strictly against allowing Turkey to postpone evaluating the progress of the negotiations but Athens is more flexible, and believes negotiations with the European Commission are made step by step and are not a series of ultimatums with deadlines. Both leaders had also discussed the situation in the Middle East and the EU membership perspective of the Western Balkan countries.
This is Kostas Karamanlis’ second visit to Cyprus as a Prime Minister. The first one was right after he took the position in 2004. This time he was greeted with all official honors at the Larnaca airport, after which he left for the presidential palace in Nicosia. Before the official meeting, the Greek delegation laid a wreath in front of the monument of the legendary Cyprian spiritual and political leader Archbishop Makarios. Tomorrow, the Greek Prime Minister will speak in front of the Cyprian parliament and will meet the Cyprian archbishop Christostomos.
Kostas Karamanlis is accompanied by his wife Natasha – a detail strongly stressed by the Greek media. Natasha Karamanlis was missing in the last few trips of her husband abroad and this gave ground for many speculations by the Greek media that something in the Prime Minister’s family was not OK.