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Minister says Cyprus will not accept use of illegal ports
2005-01-25 10:18:26

Nicosia, Jan 25 (CNA) -- Cypriot Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism George Lillikas has said that the government wishes to develop and enhance the standard of living of the Turkish Cypriots but would ''not accept direct trade between the two sides or the use of the ports and airports that, according to international law, are illegal.''

Asked yesterday how he viewed a proposal by Mustafa Akkinci, leader of the Turkish Cypriot Peace and Democracy Movement, to open the Turkish occupied port of Famagusta under Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot administration, Lillikas said the government insisted on its own proposal to the EU, which provided for the return of Famagusta to its legitimate inhabitants and the opening of the town's port.

He added that the Cypriot government had stated it was ready to examine ways for both communities to operate the port and use it in order for it to be viable.

Lillikas noted that Akkinci's suggestion only concerned the second half of the government's proposal.

''The Famagusta port cannot open and be legitimate if the area is not handed back to its Greek Cypriot legitimate inhabitants and be under the administration of the government,'' Lillikas pointed out.

Replying to questions, Lillikas said the tourism industry in the government-controlled areas of the Republic ''was not endangered by competition in the occupied areas.''

Referring to investments in the Turkish occupied areas, Lillikas said they were illegal if they were on Greek Cypriot property and noted that the government had launched an international awareness campaign to avert any future investments in property or business activities.

Asked about information regarding a new trade measure the EU is examining, Lillikas said ''the government's position on this issue is clear, we do not consider the occupied areas as a third country.''

Commenting on the stance of certain EU countries that tried to combine the financial assistance with the direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas, Lillikas said the only thing they achieved was to deny the Turkish Cypriot community of the aid, which the government had agreed to.

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