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Cypriot FM: No tight deadlines for Cyprus settlement
2005-01-28 11:04:45

Nicosia, Jan 28 (CNA) - Cyprus' Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou has said Cyprus looks forward to the resumption of negotiations for a settlement of the island's political problem, stressing that the procedure must provide for the achievement of an agreed settlement though negotiations, without tight deadlines or arbitrations.

Iacovou also said Nicosia considers the signing and implementation of the Turkey-EU Customs Union protocol as ''an important step'' that will lead to the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Ankara.

Noting that Cyprus does not oppose Turkey's European prospects, he said no other EU country would benefit more than Cyprus if Turkey truly respected fundamental EU principles and values.

Speaking at the Classic Literature, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies Institute of Tiflida University, Iacovou elaborated on the historic, political and cultural bonds between Cyprus and Georgia.

''Although we consider that relations between Georgia and Cyprus are on a very good level, we believe that there is ample of room for their improvement, enlargement and reinforcement, especially after Cyprus' accession to the EU,'' he said, adding that he looks forward to financial cooperation, using Cyprus' experience and potentials, and to the signing of pending bilateral agreements between the two countries.

Iacovou said Cyprus problem has serious similarities with that of Alexandretta, which Turkey, using the Turkish-speaking people in the region, incorporated in the Turkish Republic.

''The Cyprus government's efforts, as well as our proposals in the framework of the UN Secretary General's good offices mission, always aimed at achieving a decent and viable compromise, that will secure the human rights of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and will consolidate the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of our country, in a way that will not oppose international law principles and will be, after Cyprus' accession to the EU, consistent with the acquis communautaire and the EU fundamental principles,'' he said.

He noted that during the most recent procedure for a Cyprus settlement, interests other than the ones of Cyprus and its people led to the submission of an unjust, unequal and dysfunctional plan, that could not be accepted since it did not satisfy the basic concerns and goals of the Cyprus people and did not lead to the real reunification of the island.

The Minister said ''we remain committed to the achievement of a comprehensive, viable and functional settlement of the Cyprus problem, the soonest possible, that will reunite our country and its people.''

''We look forward to the creation of circumstances that will allow the resumption of the negotiating procedure and to this end we have made clear that this procedure must provide for the achievement of a mutually agreed settlement through negotiations, without tight deadlines or arbitrations,'' he said.

He expressed hope that Cyprus' accession to the EU in combination with Turkey's European aspirations will substantially facilitate prospects for a Cyprus settlement.

''Securing this prospect was one of the reasons that the Republic of Cyprus gave its consent to the attribution of a date to Turkey to begin its accession negotiations with the EU, despite its reservations regarding the serious deficiencies as regards Turkey's compliance with the Copenhagen criteria and the fulfilment of its obligations towards the EU and its member states,'' he said.

As regards Turkey's EU course, Iacovou noted that Ankara has been engaged in signing the Protocol of Adjustment to the Ankara agreement to extend its customs union with the EU, taking into consideration the new member states' accession, including that of the Republic of Cyprus.

''We consider the signing and the implementation of the protocol as an important step that will lead to the concrete recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey and to the gradual normalisation of the two countries' relations,'' he noted.

Iacovou said many European leaders have questioned how a country can seek its accession to a Union of states and continue to refuse recognising one of its member states.

It is also worth wondering how one can ignore the fact that Turkey continues to maintain occupation troops on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, which is part of EU territory, thus violating every international law principle and the Copenhagen political criteria essence, he noted.

Iacovou said these are only some of the unacceptable peculiarities that emerge from Turkey's stance towards Cyprus that have to be addressed and solved.

He noted that Cyprus has repeatedly said that as a matter of principle it does not oppose Turkey's European prospect and expressed Nicosia's readiness at every stage of the accession procedure ''to examine and evaluate with every objectiveness Turkey's whole behaviour and compliance with its obligations, reserving all the rights that the Republic of Cyprus has as an EU member state.''

There are many in Europe who worry that the possible accession of Turkey to the EU will drastically change Europe's face with very serious repercussions, he said, noting that Cyprus does not share worries concerning Turkey's Moslem identity.

On the contrary, it believes that the European construction is also based on the principle of multiculturalism and respect of diversity, he said.

Iacovou noted that Cyprus itself has Moslem citizens, the Turkish Cypriot community, which is an inseparable part of its people and pointed out that religion has never been the reason for the problems between the two communities.

As regards the position of other European states, Iacovou said there are countries with major financial interests and investments in Turkey and for that reason they support her, many times without judging things, and also think that Turkey is useful, even necessary for their geopolitical and strategic rights.

Referring to relations between Georgia and the EU, he said the EU stance towards Georgia shifted immediately after the change in the leadership of the country.

Iacovou expressed the Republic of Cyprus' support to the European Neighbourhood Policy, noting that Georgia is now an inseparable part of the European Neighbourhood.

He expressed certainty that Georgia will continue its hopeful course towards the EU, taking advantage of the prospects and potential the EU offers.

''Cyprus, as an EU member and a sincere traditional friend of Georgia, will be a facilitator and firm supporter of this effort. At the same time, the Republic of Cyprus recognises that Georgia has every right to pursue a position in Europe, even a closer relation through the current arrangements of the European Neighbourhood Policy,'' he concluded.

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