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British Minister urges Turkey to settle Cyprus question soon
2005-01-28 10:56:51

London, Jan 28 (CNA) -- British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane has said his country would like Ankara to take the necessary steps to find a solution to the Cyprus problem as soon as possible.

The British minister questioned whether the high number of Turkish troops stationed in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus is justified by any legitimate concern for the security needs of the Turkish Cypriot people there.

Answering a question by Labour MP Eric Illsley in the House of Commons, Macshane added that when Turkey joins the EU it must have normal diplomatic relations with all countries.

“Normalisation and the resolution of the Cypriot question remains an important issue on the agenda”, the British minister said, adding that the British government hopes “that Ankara will take the necessary steps to find some solution as soon as possible”.

He specified “at the moment when Turkey joins the European Union, it must clearly have fully normal diplomatic relations with every other member of the Union. These points are well known; I have certainly made them both privately and on the record”.

MacShane described as "unfortunate" the rejection of the Annan Plan for a Cyprus settlement by the Greek Cypriot side.

The British minister said that he has “gone on record as questioning whether the high number of Turkish troops stationed in northern Cyprus is justified by any legitimate concern for the security needs of the Turkish Cypriot people there”.

Invited by Labour MP Ben Chapman to say whether he will ensure that the Turkish Cypriots get a fair deal as matters move forward, MacShane said it has urged the Government of the Republic of Cyprus “to accept that the time has come to allow all Cypriots to trade 360 around the compass”.

“It is important to allow all the inhabitants of Cyprus to trade, travel and operate freely, and I would encourage all sides to move forward in a more positive direction”, he noted.

MacShane said the British government strongly supports Turkey's bid to join the EU, stressing that a “stable, democratic and prosperous Turkey anchored in the EU would be a powerful demonstration that Islam, democracy and economic success are compatible''.

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