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Erdogan reiterates Turkish positions on arrival in Turkish-ocupied Cyprus 2003-05-09 11:56:00

Nicosia, May 9 (CNA) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today there were ''two states, two languages, two religions'' in Cyprus and that a settlement of the island's political problem should be ''based on this reality''.

Speaking on his arrival in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island for a one-day illegal visit, Erdogan assured the Turkish Cypriots that Turkey would always be there for them.|

Erdogan's plane landed at the illegal Lefkoniko airport in the Turkish- occupied areas at 11:45 local time (08:45 GMT) and was welcomed by so-called ''prime minister'' Dervis Eroglu and ''vice-president'' Serdar Denktash.

On departure from Ankara, Erdogan said the Cyprus problem was at a crucial stage and that Turkish measures aimed at building confidence between the two sides on the island would contribute to efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

He welcomed the Turkish occupation regime's decision to ease the restrictions on the free movement of citizens on the island, imposed since the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus.

''Building a climate of trust between the two sides is important. We believe this will prepare the ground for a comprehensive settlement, based on the realities on the island'', Erdogan said.

He said that Ankara supports a just and viable solution based on the ''realities'' and noted that Turkey intends to continue efforts in this direction and supports UN efforts to reach a settlement.

On arrival in the Turkish-occupied areas, Erdogan said ''history has taught us that those who struggle succeed and make their own future''.

He said that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has made ''steps that we support'', adding that ''we see the results of his last gesture, we should all welcome them''.

Erdogan noted that during his short stay he would be meeting with Denktash and Eroglu, as well as political party leaders.

Referring to the easing of restrictions on the free movement of citizens, Erdogan said this ''contributes to reaching a solution'' and that ''everyone should see this as an opportunity''.

He said that the so-called embargo on exports from the Turkish occupied areas should be lifted and that ''this was the most important issue for Cyprus''. Erdogan also appealed to human rights supporters to look at the situation.

This is Erdogan's first trip to occupied Cyprus since he assumed office as a Prime Minister.


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