Council of Europe SG still optimistic about a Cyprus settlement
by Gregory Savva
Chisinau, Sep 11 (CNA)--Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer said he is still optimistic about a solution to the Cyprus problem, stressing that whatever was behind the occupying regime's decision to partially lift the restrictions in the freedom of movement last April presents big advantages for a solution of the issue.
Speaking to CNA, Schwimmer referred to the crossing of the divide, noting that this move has "big advantages and it shows what the people on the island want".
"But whatever what was behind the (occupying regime's) decision, the results are positive and now Turkish and Greek Cypriots can visit both parts of the island", the CoE Secretary General noted.
He said that the crossing of the divide "brought both communities closer" after being "divided and separated for decades".
Asked if he maintains the view that the window of opportunity for the solution of the Cyprus question will remain open only until May 1 2004 when Cyprus will become a full-fledged member of the European Union, Schwimmer replied positively, noting that "the Turkish Cypriots deserve the full participation and the opportunities of the EU".
"So therefore one should not lose time", he added.
Replying to a question whether he shares the view that the December illegal elections in the northern occupied part of Cyprus will be crucial for the Cyprus question, Schwimmer said he would not want to comment on these "elections" because they are not recognized, adding however that the Turkish Cypriots should freely "elect" their leaders.
"I think everybody who will be elected should be responsible not only for the Turkish (Cypriot) community but also for the future of the whole of the island", Schwimmer added.
Asked by CNA whether Turkey will pay the compensation it owes to Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou in a case of human rights violation before the European Court of Human Rights, Schwimmer said that he has received "very firm confirmation from the Turkish side they are going to solve the problem".
The ECHR ordered Turkey to pay Titina Loizidou 600,000 dollars for loss of use of her property, 40,000 dollars for moral damages and about 260,000 dollars for costs, in addition to eight per cent interest as of 28 July 1998.
Loizidou's house is situated in the northern town of Kyrenia, occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.