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Slovak President: Inconceivable for Ankara not to recognize the Cyprus Republic
2004-11-29 10:30:08

by Maria Myles

Bratislava, Nov 29 (CNA)-- Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic has urged Turkey to respond to European Union calls with regard to its obligations towards the Union, adding that it is inconceivable for Ankara not to recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

Speaking after bilateral talks with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, he also said that his government would not recognize “under any circumstances” the creation of a Turkish Cypriot state in northern Turkish-occupied Cyprus and he advocated a political settlement on the basis of international law and UN resolutions.

In his remarks at the joint press conference, Papadopoulos said that he had outlined his positions on the issues under discussion and repeated his firm stance that Nicosia has no objections to the start of accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU, provided that Ankara conforms with the obligations it has towards the Union and Cyprus as well, as a member state.

The two leaders led their respective delegations to talks, that lasted about one hour, during which they discussed bilateral issues, European Union concerns, the question of Cyprus, the ratification and putting into effect the European Constitution as well as other international matters.

Asked if he considers Cyprus’s demands with regard to the start of membership talks with Turkey an issue on which the EU will decide in next month’s summit, Gasparovic replied “on this our opinions coincide, it is not possible for Turkey, which for the past 30 years has been asking for accession negotiations, not to meet the conditions given to it, it is not possible for Turkey not to recognize the Republic of Cyprus.”

“I have said in a crystal clear manner that we do not support, under any circumstances, the creation of a so-called Turkish Cypriot state, we back a solution in the framework of UN resolutions and we respect the outcome of last April’s referendum” he said, referring to the rejection by the Greek Cypriots of a UN solution plan (the Annan plan).

He said that neither the EU nor Turkey are now ready for the latter’s accession.

In his opening remarks, he said that “Slovakia believes in the initiative of the Republic of Cyprus to find a solution and resume negotiations” .

On Turkey’s accession course, he said Papadopoulos and himself had agreed that Europe cannot continue to play a waiting game, expecting to see what the future will bring and added “the time must come when the EU will have to say a clear yes or no to the start of accession negotiations with Turkey.”

He also said that no timeframe for Turkey’s entry into the EU should be given, explaining that this was his personal view.

On bilateral ties, he said these were very good, but there was room for improvement, especially in investment.

The Slovak President announced the reduction by about 100 soldiers now serving with the Slovak contingent of the UNFICYP.

In his remarks, President Papadopoulos said traditionally good bilateral ties could improve further if all possibilities are exhausted, adding that he had extended an invitation to his Slovak counterpart to visit Cyprus officially.

He thanked him for the contribution of Slovak soldiers to UNFICYP and the efforts of the Slovak embassy in Nicosia in bringing the island’s two communities together.

“I am very pleased with the understanding shown by the delegation of Slovakia, the warm atmosphere and the reiteration of mutual support among EU countries,” he said.

On Turkey’s accession course, the President had this to say: “We outlined our positions, we do not object to Turkey beginning accession negotiations, provided it complies with its obligations to the EU and to Cyprus.”

Responding to questions about moves by the government to resume negotiations, Papadopoulos said the government seeks to unify the country and explained that the Annan plan was rejected because it would not bring about this unification but it highlighted divisive tendencies in society and in various institutions.

“Nicosia is seeking to do away with these provisions in the plan which prolong division, we are seeking from the UN, Turkey and others to resume the dialogue soon,” he added.

He also referred to the many practical measures the government is taking towards achieving this goal of unification and pointed out that in the past 18 months about 5 million people have crossed from and into the southern government controlled part of Cyprus to the northern Turkish occupied part and not a single incident has occurred.

Responding to questions, Gasparovic said if and when Ankara fulfills all the EU criteria for entry into the Union, there will be no problem in accepting the country but today, he pointed out, it was premature to talk about accession of Ankara.

In his reply to the same question, Papadopoulos agreed with Gasparovic and said the EU Council said that Turkey will be assessed on the basis of the same criteria that applied for all other candidate countries.

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