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Foreign Minister says Britain has no objection to Cypriot demands
2004-10-21 10:06:35

Nicosia, Oct 21 (CNA) -- Britain understands fully the issues which Cyprus has raised and which need to be sorted out before the European Union decides on whether to begin accession negotiations with Turkey, Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou said here today.

Speaking after a meeting with British Minister of State for Europe Denis MacShane, Iacovou also said that they discussed various issues, including the situation in the Middle East, Iraq and Iran, but mainly European concerns.

In his remarks, MacShane said Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Iacovou have ''a very constructive relationship'' with all EU partners, something he said would help the Union develop a new future in the Eastern Mediterranean in which everybody will be a winner.

The British official said ''the very constructive relationship President Papadopoulos and the Foreign Minister have with all their partners in Europe will help to move us forward in that direction.''

He said Cyprus looks forward to a very bright future and Turkey to its accession to the EU, something he noted would allow for a new future in the Eastern Mediterranean in which everybody wins.

MacShane referred to the ''long and strong'' friendship between Britain and Cyprus, as a member of the Commonwealth and a country Britain does ''very serious business with.''

''We count on Cyprus as a partner for the UK in building new EU of peace and prosperity and social justice,'' he added.

Speaking to the press, the Cypriot Foreign Minister said it is generally appreciated that there cannot be a ''real initiative by December 17'' when the EU will decide whether to start membership talks with Ankara.

''Britain has shown full understanding towards our demands and has not found any of them unreasonable,'' he said, adding that London has promised to work in the direction of Turkey.

Iacovou said Britain recognises the importance of the issues Cyprus has raised but wonders if it would be possible to sort them all out before mid December.

Cyprus demands that Ankara recognises the Republic of Cyprus, it extends its customs union agreement with the EU to cover Cyprus as well, it allows the national carrier (Cyprus Airways) to use its air space and Cyprus-flagged ships to dock at its ports.

Responding to questions, he said MacShane did not reject any of these demands and has no objection to seeing them resolved.

''Most of the issues we have raised are obligations Turkey has to meet and are not to be negotiated,'' Iacovou said.

The minister also said that this week Britain maintained a ''very positive approach'' at consultations at the UN Security Council, which is discussing the contents of a resolution on the restructuring of the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus.

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