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Cyprus welcomes Turkey's measure as step in right direction
2003-05-19 19:16:40

Nicosia, May 19 (CNA) - The Cypriot government has welcomed the announcement by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Greek Cypriots can visit Turkey as a ''step by Turkey in the direction of conforming to international law''

Government Spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said, however, it was illegal for Greek Cypriots to obtain a visa from the Turkish ''embassy'' in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island in order to travel to Turkey, noting that to some extent, with this move, Ankara was recognising the passports issued by the Republic of Cyprus.|

''Each measure bringing Turkey back to international legality is good'', the Spokesman noted.

He explained that barring the entrance of Greek Cypriots to Turkey was illegal and discriminative, while Cyprus on the other hand accepted Turkish citizens into the country.

The Spokesman said it was ironic for Erdogan to say that Greek Cypriots could obtain visas from the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus and travel from there to Turkey, noting that if anyone proceeded with this illegal action they would face the consequences of the law.

He said the use by Greek Cypriots of illegal ports or airports was an offence and was thus forbidden, adding that travel documents issued by the Turkish occupation regime could not be accepted by any UN member states.

''Erdogan's statement is the lifting of a restrictive measure imposed in the past by Turkey but is done for Ankara to comply with international legality'', Chrisostomides said, adding that Erdogan's announcement ''is not a measure welcomed as a goodwill or confidence building measure''.

It is Turkey's obligation to conform to international law, especially now that it is promoting its EU accession course and even more so because this is what the EU is demanding, he added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.


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