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Commission says developments not substitute for settlement
2003-05-06 11:01:55

Nicosia, May 6 (CNA) - Head of the European Commission delegation in Nicosia, Adriaan Van der Meer, said today that the EU welcomes the easing of restrictions on the free movement of persons and the Cypriot government's measures to support the Turkish Cypriots but noted that these developments could not substitute a comprehensive settlement.

Speaking at a press conference, Van der Meer said the EU supports the resumption of talks to solve the Cyprus problem under UN auspices.

He added that the EU package of measures for Turkish Cypriots, expected to be made public later this month, was still subject to internal deliberations and with the Cypriot government, adding that the package will deal with trade, aid and bringing the Turkish Cypriots closer to the EU.|

Referring to a recent meeting with President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos, Van der Meer said they discussed the government's package of measures for the Turkish Cypriots that was announced at the end of April.

''I must say that we welcome very much this package, it is a broad-ranging package, it covers many issues and we are pleased that telecommunications for example have been restored. I tested it out myself. I think this is a confidence building measure in order to improve the relations between the communities'', he said.

Referring to the decision of the Turkish occupation to ease the restrictions it had imposed on the free movement of persons across the divide, Van der Meer said ''in general we are positive about all the developments that have happened in recent days, it is overwhelming especially for me as an outsider to see the emotions, to see the friendships that have been restored''.

''The fact that Turkish Cypriots have kept personal things (of Greek Cypriots), like photos and other personal tokens, and are now in the position to give them back, I must say that I find it extremely touching and extremely deep in terms of feelings and emotions”, he added.

Van der Meer expressed hope that this ''new spirit'' would lead to the resumption of the UN process to solve the Cyprus problem ''as soon as possible'', adding that the EU fully supports the UN in this effort and hopes that ''when the conditions are fulfilled as spelled out by Secretary General Kofi Annan the talks can resume again''.

The European official noted that recent developments could not substitute a settlement. ''There can never be substitution for a comprehensive settlement. The only way forward to meet a comprehensive settlement on the core issues is via the Annan plan. I cannot see otherwise'', he said.

Invited to comment on the fact that Greek Cypriots must show their passports when crossing into the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic, Van der Meer said it was ''an individual decision''.

''We are discussing this course among colleagues, among friends but at the end it is each individual that counts and each individual has to take the decision for himself. And this is exactly what the EU is built on. We are built on individuals, we are built on individual values and on that basis we work together to find and define common policies'', he said.

Commenting on reports that the Turkish occupation regime is preparing a ''black list'' of Greek Cypriots, Van der Meer called upon the so-called ''authorities'' of the occupation regime ''to apply a policy of the rule of law''.

Invited to comment on a statement by Turkish Cypriot politician Serdar Denktash, son of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and leader of the Democratic Party, that the UN, the US and the EU should remain observers at the moment, Van der Meer said ''the only thing I would like to say is that we have a different approach''.

''The role of the EU should be supportive to restart the UN process and the UN has the knowledge on territory, security, government and property issues. They have the best-qualified organisations to deal with the Cyprus issue'', he said.

Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been crossing the divide since late April, when the Turkish occupation regime decided to ease the restrictions it had imposed on the free movement of persons. Last week, the Cypriot government announced a package of measures to support the Turkish Cypriots.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest effort to reach a comprehensive settlement collapsed in The Hague, due to the Turkish side's intransigence.


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