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British Minister says Annan plan is "dead"
2004-11-17 10:37:22

by Kyriakos Tsioupras

London, 17 Nov (CNA) -- Britain's Minister for Europe Denis MacShane has said that the Annan plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem is ''dead'', since the Greek Cypriot community has rejected it.

''What could be done'', he said, ''is what the UN Secretary General himself stated that he could return to the subject if there was convincing evidence that both sides are willing for a solution''.

''I have not seen such willingness,'' said MacShane, while giving oral evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry on Cyprus.

The British Minister expressed the view that if Turkey is given a date for accession negotiations with the EU and while these talks continue there will be ''openings'' on the Cyprus issue.

Committee Chairman Donald Anderson and members of the Committee put forward the idea for replacement of the Turkish forces, occupying Cyprus' northern third since 1974, with EU or NATO or other forces.

Committee member Fabian Hamilton said that ''it would be inconceivable for a country (Turkey) acceding to the EU while keeping occupying forces in another country member of the Union''.

The British Minister said if both parties in Cyprus came out supporting such an idea ''it would be an interesting development''.

Responding to questions on why measures for ending the socalled isolation of the Turkish Cypriots are, as it was said, stalled and whether that was due to the Cyprus government, the British official said ''although there is not enough cooperation and support from the Cyprus government, the real reason is the way the EU functions aiming at getting general agreement''.

He said although the UK government is for direct trade and flights with the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, he explained that it is difficult to have direct flights because of the International Convention, which provides for the sovereign right of a country to decide which airports in its territory can be registered for international use.

Nevertheless, the British government is pushing for direct flights engaging the best lawyers and other experts on the subject, he added.

The US, MacShane said, gives a different interpretation to the International Convention and is trying to have direct flights through bilateral agreements with Turkey.

Earlier today it was reported from Washington that the American Airlines will not launch any direct flights to the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus.

The American Airlines' President sent a letter to Turkish Airlines' President, informing him that the American Airlines cannot perform direct flights to the occupied part of Cyprus due to economic reasons.

Reports had suggested that the American Airlines were planning to launch as from January 2005 direct flights from New York to the illegal airport "Ercan" at Tymbou, situated in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, via Constatinople (Istanbul).

The Cyprus government has strongly protested to the US administarion over plans for the start of direct flights to the occupied areas.

All ports and airports in the areas occupied by Turkish troops since 1974 have been declared illegal ports of entry by the internationally recognised government of the Republic of Cyprus.

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