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Cyprus President: Cyprus problem has never been a religious conflict
2005-01-11 09:45:43

Nicosia, Jan 11 (CNA) -- The Cyprus problem is not and has never been a religious conflict. It is simply and plainly an issue of invasion and occupation of 37% of the territory of Cyprus by Turkey, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said receiving yesterday the credentials of the new High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Cyprus Manzo George Anthony, who is based in Tel Aviv.

Papadopoulos said the Government of Cyprus remains committed to a solution of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and shall continue working for a negotiated solution that addresses the legitimate concerns of the people of Cyprus as a whole, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike.

Presenting his credentials the new High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria said Cyprus and Nigeria ''share a lot in common, being members of the Commonwealth of Nations and the Non-aligned Movement, among others.''

Anthony said ''it is our sincere desire to equally felicitate you on your country’s determined and sincere efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem, and your policy of creating conditions of stability, security and cooperation in the region.''

''We refer particularly to your efforts to achieve just, fair and lasting settlement of the problem in the framework of the UN Charter, Security Council Resolutions and based on the principles of international law,'' he said, noting that ''we encourage you to continue with the goodwill as the outcome of its eventual settlement would decide the future course of events not only in Europe but worldwide.''

''Indeed, your continued support to the UN-led peace talks has been very commendable. Nigeria shall give her full support to the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to achieve the rapid re-establishment, in the whole of Cyprus, of a law-based state accepted by both communities,'' he said.

Referring to the two countries' ''very close bi-lateral relations'', Anthony said Cyprus can avail of the wide range of investment opportunities and the friendly investment policy of the present Government under President Obasanjo to expand the scope of your investments in the various sectors of the economy.

Replying Papadopoulos assured that the Cyprus government and he himself look forward to close cooperation with the new Ambassador and will endeavour to provide him with every assistance in the performance of his duties.

''I consider it an honour and a privilege that I have had the opportunity of meeting and developing personal friendly relations with President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and I hope to build further and closer friendly relations and cooperation with the President, and consequently, with the Government and people of Nigeria,'' he said.

Referring to Cyprus' accession to the EU, Papadopoulos said ''Cyprus intends to use this as a platform for the enhancement of its relationship with African countries and I firmly believe that this development will lead to an enhancement of our bilateral relations.''

As regards the Cyprus problem, he said that in rejecting the particular version of the Annan plan, the Greek Cypriots did not reject the solution of the Cyprus problem or the reunification of our country.

''They rejected a plan that was not sufficiently addressing their legitimate concerns and which did not ensure a solution that would be functional, viable and which would truly reunify their country,'' he noted.

''The Government of Cyprus remains committed to a solution of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We shall continue working for a negotiated solution that addresses the legitimate concerns of the people of Cyprus as a whole, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike. Our accession to the European Union, in May of last year, and the fact that Turkey has now received the unique opportunity to begin accession negotiations with the Union, later this year, provide us with a hopeful framework for the normalization of our relations with Turkey and eventually the settlement of the Cyprus problem,'' Papadopoulos said.

He also referred to the four sets of measures the Government of Cyprus has announced and has been implementing, since last year, for the benefit of the Turkish Cypriots, at a significant financial cost.

''Moreover, the Cyprus Government hopes that the EU Regulation on Financial Aid for the Turkish Cypriots will be soon adopted and put into effect. The delay in this regard is not due to the Cyprus Government that has, since last October, accepted in a constructive manner the compromise text agreed in the COREPER in Brussels,'' he said.

Papadopoulos noted that the Cyprus Government is also working towards improving the functioning and scope of the EU Green Line Regulation, which provides for intra-island trade and exports of Turkish Cypriot products to the EU, through the legal ports and airports of the Republic.

''It is our belief that this regulation should be given time to show its effectiveness. Efforts towards so-called direct trade, which undermine the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as international and European law, should be abandoned,'' he said.

He noted that ''in addition, we have announced further measures in the fields of de-mining, military disengagement and the opening of additional cross points along the cease-fire lines, so as to enhance confidence-building and cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, thus facilitating the goal of the reunification of the island and its people.''

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