Larnaca.- (CNA) — Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos departed on Saturday for an official visit to Britain, where he will hold talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday afternoon. In statements at the Larnaca Airport upon his departure for the british capital, President Papadopoulos said that during the talks with Blair they would discuss the Cyprus problem, European issues, as well as aspects concerning their bilateral ties and their cooperation in the efforts to combat terrorism.
”I look forward to the meeting and I see it as an opportunity for our relations with the United Kingdom to be further improved. With this country we have historical as well as political relations”, President Papadopoulos said.
Asked about Turkey’s obligation to sign before the 3rd of October the Protocol extending its Customs Union with the new EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, President Papadopoulos said that this issue is clear for the European Union, but added that Turkey’s intentions regarding the signing and the implementation of the Protocol are uncertain.
”The EU has already taken its decisions regarding the procedure and the time the Protocol has to be signed, which should be soon enough so that no tension or crisis occur the more we approach the 3rd of October”, when Turkey is set to open accession negotiations with the EU.
President Papadopoulos said that his visit to Britain is ”in the framework of our efforts to improve our relations with all countries that are in one way or the other involved in the Cyprus issue, bilateral ties and EU issues”.
«It is obvious that during the past period, there was some tension and some misunderstandings. I believe that newly appointed British High Commissioner is really trying to create a new level of relations between both countries” he noted.
He also said that the relations between Cyprus and Britain could be further improved ”and this is what we try to do”.
Asked whether during his stay in London he will meet with Turkish Prime Minister Rezep Tayyip Erdogan who will be there July 27th, Cypriot President noted that there would not be any opportunity for them to meet.
«I don’t think that we will meet. Nothing has been scheduled. But I don’t think that there will be any opportunity for us to meet there”, he said.
During his visit to London, President Papadopoulos will also hold a series of meetings with Cypriot Federations, the Committee of Missing Persons’ Relatives in Great Britain. He will also address an open political gathering at Southgate and host a luncheon for a group of British MPs.