The Cyprus issue is one of the most important issues for Greece, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Stavros Lambrinides has said in Athens addressing Greek Ambassadors at a seminar. Referring to the deadly blast at the Naval Base “Evaggelos Florakis” on July 11th which claimed the lives of thirteen people and caused irreparable damage to Cyprus` main power plant, Lambrinides noted that “our brothers in Cyprus took a tragic blow”, adding that “we stand by them with whatever means at our disposal”. He also said the Cyprus issue is entering a critical phase and urged the Ambassadors to act in concert and in continuous cooperation with their Cypriot counterparts.

Commenting on recent remarks by the Turkish Prime Minister, Lambrinides said he was not surprised, adding that “all that Erdogan said had been, unfortunately evident, for some time at the negotiation table”. Erdogan questioned the existence of the Republic of Cyprus, warned the EU that its accession negotiations with Ankara would come to a halt if Cyprus assumes the Union’s rotating presidency in July 2012 without a political settlement and ruled out the return of the Turkish occupied areas of Morphou and Karpass to the Greek Cypriots in an overall solution.

“Now it is also evident who bears responsibility for the lack of progress in the Cyprus problem and Turkey’s EU accession talks”, Lambrinides said, adding that “there is still time for a change of course”, adding that we need to try and make it happen.

He said Ankara knows that a prerequisite for the full normalization of relations between Greece and Turkey is the solution of the Cyprus problem, a change in behaviour and respecting the principle of being a good neighbor, adding that since 1999 when the process of ‘rapprochement’ between the two countries started, there have been successes.

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