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Cypriot FM addresses WEU Assembly
2004-12-02 10:07:44

Nicosia, Dec 2 (CNA) – Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou said that a process of normalisation of relations between Cyprus and Turkey will make possible the restart of negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem so that Cypriots will look forward to a new era of relations not only between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Cyprus and Turkey, but also between Turkey and the EU.

Iacovou told the Assembly of the Western European Union meeting in Paris yesterday that ''if such an approach is adopted it will, we believe, reinforce both Turkey’s transformation and its EU candidacy, while also significantly contribute to the stability of the sensitive region of the Eastern Mediterranean''.

Iacovou said that Cyprus has ''no objections of an ideological character against Turkey’s accession prospects. He further said that Cyprus expects that Turkey will embark on a process of speedy normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus.

At the same time, he added, we should ensure that the issue of the way forward for a solution to the Cyprus problem will be kept on the agenda of the relations between Turkey and the European Union.

Iacovou underlined that the new Europe, to have a truly effective role in tackling international problems, must develop the means of a credible foreign and security policy.

The Cypriot minister said ''security concerns have changed overtime'' as ''we are now faced with challenges from both state and non-state actors. New challenges, like terrorism and globalized criminal activity, and more conventional ones, such as regional conflict and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)''.

As regards the European Security Strategy itself, the Cypriot minister said ''we welcome the commitment to the principle of effective multilateralism and to international law, as well as the prominence given to the role of the United Nations and the Security Council,'' noting that ''harmonious cooperation with the Council of Europe and the OSCE as well as with strategic partners such as the US, Russia, China, Japan, Canada and India is another prerequisite in this respect''.

Iacovou said the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union, once ratified, will undoubtedly enhance the Union’s ability to pursue a most coherent and effective CFSP and ESDP.

Furthermore he said Cyprus welcomes ''the agreement on UN – EU cooperation in crisis management, an effort that has been ongoing for the last three years''.

Noting that the EU-NATO cooperation is inevitable considering that most EU members are also NATO members, Iacovou underlined that ''beyond the well known difficulties, EU – NATO relations have faced some additional problems which have to do with the understandings on the Berlin Plus arrangements and particularly the insistence by one member state of NATO to exploit its position to block Cyprus (and Malta) from participating in discussions and deliberations between the two organizations, even in those not directly related to Berlin Plus''.

In his speech, Iacovou said Cyprus is particularly interested in and concerned about the Middle East and the wider Mediterranean area. ''We believe that this is an area of strategic importance to the Union and will continue, well into the 21st century, to be of crucial importance to Europe’s security'', he said.

He noted that in this context Cyprus' accession has much to offer to the Union. ''By virtue of its location at the crossroads of three continents and of different religions and cultures, Cyprus is in a unique position to play a valuable role in the promulgation of the global aspirations of the Union, particularly in this region as a forward base of operations, as a shield against new threats and as a bridge: political, economic and cultural,'' he added.

The Minister said that Cyprus has been and will continue to be as helpful as possible to the parties in the Middle East conflict and to the wider effort of the EU.

The Cypriot minister noted that ''when we talk of problems in our region of the Eastern Mediterranean there is, of course, our own long-standing problem which has remained unresolved and a tragic anachronism ever since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974''.

He said that ''Cyprus’ foreign policy was based on the twin pillars of solving the Cyprus problem and our acceding to the European Union, preferably in that very same order. Regrettably, the most recent efforts at finding a solution of the problem led instead to the submission of an inequitable and unworkable plan that did not meet the fundamental concerns and expectations of the Cypriot people and, thus, could not be accepted''.

He stressed, however, that in rejecting the particular plan, the Greek Cypriots most certainly did not reject the solution of the problem and reunification in the form of a bicommunal, bizonal federation.

''We remain firmly committed to achieving the soonest possible a comprehensive, just and viable, mutually-agreed settlement, consistent with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, international law and the values and principles on which the European Union is founded. This has been and will always be our principal strategic objective and foremost priority'', he added.

Iacovou said that ''we continue to believe that the achievement of such settlement will usher in a new era on the island and the wider region at large'' and will also bring Turkey closer to the European norms and traditions on inter-state relations, whilst cementing the much-needed peace and stability in the region.

''However in order to achieve this, we must work as partners within the context of the membership of Cyprus to the EU and Turkey’s accession aspirations. The period leading up to the 17th of December and beyond provides, in the words of an esteemed colleague, a historic, golden opportunity for the positive realignment of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean in a sustainable way to the benefit of all. We fully agree that we should all utilize this opportunity,'' he added.

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