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Papadopoulos returns from Hague dissapointed but determined
2003-03-11 17:27:17

Larnaca, Mar 11 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos expressed here tonight disappointment over the collapse of the UN effort in The Hague earlier today to reach a Cyprus settlement and blamed the Turkish side for the failure of the peace process.

He stressed, however, that the Greek Cypriot side would remain in constant touch with the United Nations and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and announced that the Cyprus government would launch an international campaign to inform world public opinion and decision-making centres on the positions of the Greek Cypriot side and who is to blame for the collapse of the talks.

Papadopoulos pledged to continue efforts for a Cyprus settlement that would properly serve the interests of both Cyprus communities, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, underlining that there ''are no last chances'' for a Cyprus solution.

He thanked the members of the National Council (top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus issue), who accompanied him to The Hague, the Greek delegation there, as well as Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis for their support.|

Papadopoulos told reporters at Larnaca Airport that ''we are returning, with an understandable sense of disappointment from the failure of the most intense effort for a solution to the Cyprus problem''.

The Cypriot President said the ''failure of the talks is due... to Rauf Denktash's insistence to prove once again himself and promote a solution which he considers his vision, meaning the creation of two separate states'' in Cyprus.

Papadopoulos said he conveyed to the Secretary-General the decision of the National Council ''that we were ready to put his proposal to a referendum, if all the documents which made up the solution to the Cyprus problem were concluded so that the people of Cyprus would know what they were voting for, and that the issue of security would have been resolved". He noted the security aspect is an indispensable part of the Annan plan.

''Unfortunately the other side did not respond'', said the President and revealed that when asked what was Denktash's reply, the Secretary-General said, Denktash answered 'you invited me here to say 'yes' or 'no' and my reply is 'no'. I don't like your plan, and I will not support it''.

''Despite all this, we (the Greek Cypriot side), will not abandon the efforts for a Cyprus solution, which would be functional and viable and I am once again committed that we will intensify our efforts so that despite today's failure, we will promote a solution which will serve the proper interests of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots'', he said.

Papadopoulos said the government will be in constant touch with the Secretary-General and the UN, and ''we will make all necessary efforts to inform the international public opinion and decision-making centres on our position and the reason for today's failure. I am certain that when the facts become known, everyone will find out, if there is responsibility, it is solely due to the intransigence shown by the Turkish side, and especially Mr. Denktash's position''.

The Cypriot President addressed once again the Turkish Cypriots assuring them ''that we will continue efforts and we hope that soon a solution will be found so that a united Cyprus can enter the European Union and Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and all the people of Cyprus will share increased benefits from accession''.

Regarding the report which UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto, will prepare on the outcome of the talks, Papadopoulos said he has talked about it with Annan. ''We will wait for the consultations that will take place at the Security Council and hope that the Council will say that there is still some room to continue initiatives for a Cyprus settlement. Maybe not to this intensity, but surely efforts will continue, Papadopoulos added.

Invited to comment on statements made by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the recognition of the illegal regime in the occupied north can proceed, Papadopoulos said many efforts have been made over the years to secure recognition of the illegal regime in the occupied areas.

''These were not successful because recognition of a separate state is not justified when it derives from seccession'', he said, adding that with the island's accession to the EU, ''recognition will be made even harder''.

Papadopoulos said the ''views and policy of the political and military establishment in Turkey dominated'', and that despite Erdogan's ''ambigous'' statements over the time which were judged by others as a change of attitude, eventually he completedly sided with the establishment's and Denktash's positions.

Asked how the island's accession to the EU will progress, Papadopoulos said ''it is already predetermined''. He explained that following the decisions of the Helsinki European Council and the Copenhagen conclusions, the decision of the EU is clear: Everyone prefers, and firstly we do, that a united Cyprus accedes... but if this is not possible, then Cyprus will enter without a solution. This course has been scheduled and the protocols have been prepared and agreed upon''.

He reminded that this week, the External Affairs and Defence committee of the European Parliament will decide on enlargement for all ten countries which will accede.

Asked if a new chapter opens now regarding the Turkish Cypriots and the measures that were to be announced for them, Papadopoulos said ''it was always our policy that we want to show that our Turkish Cypriot compatriots must participate in the benefits which EU accession provides for''.

He said the issue will be discussed at the National Council and following the conclusions of the Security Council deliberations, ''to find ways to turn the disappointment which Turkish Cypriots feel about the conclusion of The Hague to the same levels with us, that working together we can unite our country'', Papadopoulos said.

CNA/EC/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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