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Turkey has an historic responsibility to press Denktash
2003-06-12 11:23:45

by Kyriakos Tsioupras-- London, Jun 12 (CNA) -- British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane said that Turkey's government, parliament and military have an historic responsibility to exert pressure on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to reach an agreement in the context of the UN Secretary General's proposals on a comprehensive political settlement and thereby allow a united Cyprus to enter the European Union.

Answering questions at the House of Commons, MacShane noted that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will meet shortly here with the Turkish Foreign Minister ''and will continue to press all parties - particularly the Turkish government, Parliament and the military - to accept their responsibilities.''

''We firmly believe that the signals from Ankara can unblock the path to a solution under the Annan package, which gives a fair deal to both communities on the island,'' MacShane said, pointing out that ''it is in Turkey's interests for the EU to contain a member state one of whose senior representatives in the European Council of Ministers will be speaking Turkish.''|

He welcomed the partial easing of restrictions on freedom of movement along the divide and the European Commission's trade and aid package for Turkish Cypriots and expressed hope that ''they will lead to a comprehensive settlement based on the UN plan, which remains vital.''

He said the British government has repeatedly urged the Cypriot government and the other players in the region - the Turkish and Greek governments - to take up Kofi Annan's plan, which is on the table and represents the best way forward.

''We want the authorities on the island and in the relevant countries to help to unite Cyprus and to bring a united Cyprus into the European Union next May,'' he added.

MacShane expressed the belief that there is confidence between the two communities on the island and that ''the breakdown exists perhaps between their political leaders.''

The British Minister also said the measures of the Cyprus government for the Turkish Cypriots ''are a move in the right direction'' noting that ''the main strumbling block remains the position of Mr. Denktash which must be dealt with through direct communication with him. We believe that, again, the Turkish government, parliament and military have a key role to play,'' he added.

Invited to say what the British government will do about replacing Lord David Hannay, former British special representative for Cyprus, MacShane said ''things must now be done at governmental level.''

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


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