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Cox expresses regret over failure of Cyprus peace talks
2003-03-22 11:50:23

By Gregoris Savva -- Brussels, Mar 21 (CNA) - President of the European Parliament Pat Cox expressed regret on Thursday over the failure to achieve a breakthrough in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem based on the UN Secretary-General's plan.

He told CNA, during the sidelines of the Spring European Council, that statements made by the key players on the Cyprus problem, including Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, were not a cause for boundless optimism regarding the resumption of the peace talks at the current stage.

Asked by CNA whether he believes that at the current stage and due to the Iraqi crisis whether it would be possible for the Cyprus question to move on, Cox said that a solution to the Cyprus question would be "desirable".|

However he added that "I think by reading some of the remarks of key players, including the remarks of Rauf Denktash, they were not immediately after and at the Hague a cause for boundless optimism in this regard".

The President of the European Parliament said he looks forward to meeting today Acting President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias and Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou.

"I deeply regret the failure to achieve a breakthrough on the Annan plan at The Hague and I think it does represents in terms of the UN led efforts, a moment that marks not a failure but marks time", Cox told CNA

He pointed out "on the balance of probabilities, in mid April in Athens, we are looking at a signing ceremony which for certain will include Cyprus but probably not our optimum which would have been a reconciled Cyprus in a reconciling Europe".

Replying to a question whether the EU and the European Parliament could contribute in any way towards the resumption of the talks, Cox said that he would listen to Christofias and Iacovou "very carefully" in this regard and he assured that "if there was slightest possibility that a concerted European effort at this very late stage could deliver the optimum, I would do all I could to deliver".

"But we have do deal with politics in real circumstances as we find it, not only as we wish it. And as we find it we may have missed a once in a generation opportunity", he added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.

UN efforts to secure a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, based on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's third plan, came to an abrupt halt at The Hague on 11 March when Denktash said he was not prepared to agree to a referendum on the UN plan and raised fundamental objections to basic points in it.

Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said he was prepared to put a UN peace proposal to a referendum and that he was ready not to reopen the plan's substantive provisions if the other side was prepared to do likewise.

The Republic of Cyprus is due to sign the Accession Treaty with the EU on 16 April 2003, together with nine other countries.

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

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