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FM: Turkey's EU course to contribute to resumption of talks
2003-05-05 18:42:33

Larnaca, Mar 5 (CNA) -- Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou has expressed the belief that certain facts, such as Turkey's aspirations for EU membership and its efforts to secure a decision for the start of accession negotiations with the EU, will contribute to the resumption of peace talks on Cyprus.

Speaking here yesterday, at arrival from Greece, where he attended the Informal General Affairs and External Relations Council which convened at Rhodes and Kastelorizo between 2-3 May 2003, Iacovou said that his EU counterparts whose countries have embassies in Cyprus are fully briefed on the latest developments regarding the easing of restrictions on free movement on the island, imposed by the illegal occupying regime after the 1974 Turkish invasion.|

Their perception is that Turkey that refused to cooperate at The Hague UN-led peace talks in March is facing various problems and in an effort to change this negative impression it urged Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to take the decision to ease restrictions, Iacovou said.

He also noted that his EU counterparts fully understand that this is not the fall of the dividing wall or the establishment of free communication with the occupied areas, but an ease of restrictions.

''I am absolutely sure that Denktash's and Turkey's allegations that Greek and Turks here in Cyprus cannot coexist have collapsed and everyone referred to what has happened in a very positive manner, since the scenes of friendship and fraternity have made a great impression on them'' he added.

As regards his meeting, on the sidelines of the Council with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul, Iacovou noted that apart from a general discussion they had regarding the fact that the Cyprus problem has to be solved, Gul refrained from any comment on the substance of the issue.

Iacovou said he expressed to Gul his condolences for the victims of the recent earthquake in Turkey and told Gul that now he can call him directly from Cyprus as direct telephone communication with the occupied areas and Turkey was established on 2 May 2003, following a government decision in the context of a package of measures for the Turkish Cypriots, announced last week.

Asked if he is going to call Gul, Iacovou said that he will meet with Gul twice a month, in the framework of EU meetings and events and that he will try to convey to him certain messages. It is up to Gul if he wants to engage in a more substantive dialogue, he added.

Invited to say what the government expects by this week's illegal visit to the occupied areas by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iacovou said the visit takes place because Turkey is concerned that due to its negative stance on the Cyprus question ''it will lose the game in Europe.''

''Whether he will make any proposals, that I don’t know'' he added.

Asked if it is time for the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to intervene, Iacovou said that fifteen days ago when President Tassos Papadopoulos met Annan in Athens on the sidelines of the European Informal Council and the European Conference, Annan told him that at this time he will continue to look into the situation and he himself will decide on his intentions, when the right time comes.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.


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