Cypriot Foreign Minister says EU accession changes much
by Rebekah Gregoriades
Beirut, Jan 14 (CNA) -- Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou has said that Cyprus' accession to the European Union has brought about great changes and it is now incomprehensible for the Cyprus problem to be pending, adding that the problem can be solved on the basis of UN resolutions and European principles.
In statements to CNA, Iacovou said that the Greek Cypriot side is ready for a settlement and has made many concessions, but pointed out that it would accept neither partition nor the creation of two separate states under the disguise of a confederation.
Iacovou, who met yesterday in Beirut with the President and the Prime Minister of Lebanon, said that if Turkey wishes to join the EU it must accept the acquis communautaire and the basic principles of Europe, adding that this is what the Cypriot government is trying to cultivate during the period prior to the commencement of Turkey's EU accession negotiations and it is this that it is asking of its friends to understand.
The Minister told CNA that he briefed the President and the Prime Minister of Lebanon about ''the situation in Cyprus, particularly after the accession of Cyprus to the EU and Turkey's bid to secure a negotiating date for itself.''
Asked if he requested the support of Lebanon regarding the Cyprus problem, Iacovou said he did.
''I explained the recent developments. I think that the accession of Cyprus to the EU has changed a lot. It is completely incomprehensible to have the problem of Cyprus outstanding. So, we think that the problem can be solved on the basis of UN resolutions and European principles and particularly those values on which the EU has been created,'' he said.
He added that "if Turkey wants to join this Union, obviously it must accept the acquis communautaire, it must accept the principal values of Europe."
Iacovou pointed out that "this is what we want to cultivate over the next few months, before the accession negotiations with Turkey commence, and this is what we ask all our friends to understand."
"We are ready for a solution, we have made a lot of concessions, from a unitary state to a federal state, two units, but we will not accept partition and we will not accept a confederation, which means the creation of two sovereign states in Cyprus under some kind of disguise. That we cannot accept," he stressed.
Referring to bilateral relations between Cyprus and Lebanon, and the daily flights between the two countries, Iacovou said "this reflects the close relations that exist on the level of ordinary people and particularly visitors."
"There is a bilateral flow of visitors. There are a lot of Lebanese working from Cyprus and we welcome that. It is a very sound basis for fostering future relations and we want to see our relations, on a practical level also, being augmented. Lebanon is of interest to us. It is our intention to establish here a commercial community and also to promote tourism," he said.
On UN Security Council resolution 1559 regarding Lebanon, Iacovou said "the problem is that it is a resolution of the Security Council and what we and Lebanon must search is how we can utilise it in a wider context because often there are many other resolutions that have been passed and remain unimplemented and they are not unrelated."
"There are many elements in several Security Council resolutions that are related in the context of the Middle East," he pointed out.
The Cypriot Minister also said he was "very glad to see that over the past few years the ravages of war have begun to be mended and there is so much evident progress."
"We wish for peace, prosperity and great success for the people. This will be to the benefit not only of The Lebanon, but of the whole region," he added.
Referring to the Palestinian elections, Iacovou said "it was the democratic right of the Palestinian people to elect its President."
"The elections went quite well. We congratulated the President and we wished him well in his endeavours to secure an honourable peace in the Middle East," he said.
As regards the peace process, he said "there is the famous road map, which is sponsored by very important countries, the US, the Russian Federation, the EU and the UN, so it has a very good pedigree, but it a complicated process and I think a lot of effort is required to make it work and we must overcome problems as they arise."
Replying to questions, Iacovou said Cyprus would be very happy to host meetings between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
"We have been instrumental in setting up a number of meetings in the past not only amongst leaders but amongst organisations and the civil society, so we would be very willing to provide all the facilities necessary to host meetings at all levels, to facilitate the search for a solution of the Palestinian question," he added.
Asked if he discussed this issue with the Lebanese President, Iacovou said "it did not arise but it is well known that this is the position of Cyprus, it is very well known that Cyprus is available for such a role."
On the situation in Iraq, Iacovou said "things are very difficult."
"The decisions were taken by those that have taken them and it is very difficult to go back. We believe that the UN should have the paramount role, even at this late stage. The problem is too difficult for one or two countries to resolve on their own," he added.
The minister concludes his visit and returns home later Friday.