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Lord Hannay: Giving Turkey a date will have a profound effect on Cyprus
2004-12-09 10:29:25

by Kyriakos Tsioupras

London, Dec 9 (CNA) -- Britain's former special representative for the Cyprus problem Lord David Hannay has said if the EU is not able or willing to give Turkey a green light on 17 December, then he would be very pessimistic about the prospects for a Cyprus settlement.

Speaking here during the presentation of his book ''Cyprus: The Search for a Solution'', Hannay said that if a date for opening negotiations with Turkey in 2005 is set, then ''that will have a profound effect also on the Cyprus problem and on the way people think about it.''

Meanwhile in an interview with CNA, Hannay said that the question of the recognition of the Cyprus Republic by Turkey will come up if and when Turkey completes its accession talks with the EU.

Invited to comment on the fact that a country seeking accession negotiations with the EU does not recognise an EU member country, Hannay said ''the matter does not arise in a particularly acute form at this stage. What is clear is, if and when Turkey reaches the end of the accession road and has to sign a Treaty with, by then probably 27 members, will be signing with what Cyprus will be at that time. I hope it will be the United Republic of Cyprus, that there will be a settlement.''

Answering another question Hannay said he thinks Turkey is absolutely determined to join the EU and that in such circumstances the solution of the Cyprus problem will become imperative.

In his speech Hannay noted that even if formal moves towards negotiation of the Cyprus problem are some way off, it is important to prepare the ground, adding that ''nowhere is that more important than between the politicians on both sides whose task will in future be, we hope, to recommend the merits of a settlement to the voters.''

''With the Green Line open, the obstacles to political contact are no longer there. What is surely needed now is a whole network of informal contacts between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot politicians designed to build up familiarity and mutual confidence,'' he added.

He noted ''the future of Cyprus lies in the hands of Cypriots, although they are often reluctant to believe that. I hope they will find a way to reunite their island, to respect each other and each other's institutions, to put behind them an undoubtedly nightmarish past and to achieve security and prosperity in an enlarged European Union. Those were the objectives for which I worked and it would be wonderful to see them realised,'' he added.

Hannay said he does not believe the problem is insoluble, adding that ''if it were solved, it would bring benefits to all concerned and in a few years time people would be quite puzzled as to why it had taken so long to resolve it in the first place.''

As to this month's European Council, that will decide whether or not to give Turkey a date to begin accession negotiations, Hannay noted that ''if that decision is positive and a date for opening negotiations in 2005 is set, then I think that will have a profound effect also on the Cyprus problem and on the way people think about it.''

''It is difficult to envisage Turkey joining the EU while the north of Cyprus remains in a limbo, with its own relationship to the EU ill defined and unsatisfactory. If I am right that a decision to move ahead with Turkey's accession negotiations does have this effect, then we can expect the momentum for a resumption of the search for a Cyprus solution to build up,'' he said.

''It will not necessarily move forward at a great pace, nor does it need to. Another failed attempt at reaching a solution would be even more damaging than the last one,'' Hannay noted.

''But if the EU is not willing or able to give Turkey a green light on 17 December, then I would be very pessimistic about the prospects for a Cyprus settlement. I really cannot see where the political will is going to come from in those circumstances,'' he said.

Referring to Turkish Cypriots, Hannay said that ''for many years now the isolation of the north and the impoverishment of its people has driven many into the arms of the Turkish Cypriot rejectionists who argue that the EU has nothing to offer and that the Greek Cypriots are irremediably hostile to them.

''The policy of pressure and squeeze has not worked before and it will not work now. So I hope that second, more constructive thoughts may prevail, and that it may even come to be accepted that a more prosperous and contented Turkish Cypriot community is in the interest of Greek Cypriots, both commercially and politically,'' he added.

Referring to the results of the April 24 referenda on the Annan plan, Hannay said that ''was indeed a sad day for the island, to the two motherlands, Greece and Turkey, and for the international community,'' as the Turkish Cypriots accepted the plan but the Greek Cypriots rejected it.

''One lesson which should have been learned from the experience of last spring is that it was a mistake to go to a referendum without a serious commitment from both principal negotiators to campaign for a 'yes' vote,'' he concluded.

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