Athens tells EU Cyprus and name is­sue are key

Mogherini meets Tsipras and Kotzias on visit, ex­presses hope for progress in Balkans and re­uni­fi­ca­tion talks

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Turkey, Cyprus and the name dis­pute with the For­mer Yu­goslav Repub­lic of Mace­do­nia (FYROM) were the key is­sues that the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Euro­pean Union for For­eign Af­fairs and Se­cu­rity Pol­icy Fed­er­ica Mogherini dis­cussed with Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras and For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias in Athens yes­ter­day.

Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment sources, Tsipras told the EU’s top diplo­mat dur­ing their meet­ing that Turkey’s po­ten­tial mem­ber­ship of the Union has to be de­pen­dent on a so­lu­tion to the Cyprus is­sue.

The semi-state Athens-Mace­do­nian News Agency re­ported that in com­ments be­fore their meet­ing, Mogherini thanked Tsipras for Greece’s ef­forts in try­ing to reach an agree­ment dur­ing the re­cent re­uni­fi­ca­tion talks in the Swiss re­sort of Crans-Mon­tana. “The EU re­mains fully com­mit­ted to find­ing a vi­able pos­i­tive so­lu­tion to the Cyprus prob­lem. It is a pri­or­ity for me per­son­ally and for the whole Union,” she re­port­edly added.

Fol­low­ing talks with Kotzias, Mogherini said that her par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Crans-Mon­tana talks has given her the im­pres­sion that there are grounds to be­lieve that the peace process can be re­vived “when the po­lit­i­cal cir­cum­stances are suit­able.”

The EU diplo­mat also stressed the im­por­tance of the Balkans and in­sisted that this re­gion would be a pri­or­ity for the Union. She said that she be­lieves there will be mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties in the next months to make progress in the dis­cus­sions be­tween Athens and Skopje over the name dis­pute, and be­tween Bel­grade and Pristina re­gard­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties Ser­bia and Kosovo have in their re­la­tion­ship.

Kotzias said that Greece is fully sup­port­ive of the EU’s ef­forts to bring the Western Balkans into the “Euro­pean fam­ily.” He said that Athens backs FYROM’s goal of join­ing the EU as long as the name is­sue is re­solved. The for­eign min­is­ter added that he hopes the prospect of a so­lu­tion will be eas­ier now than it was in the past, re­fer­ring to the re­cent change of gov­ern­ment in Skopje.

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