Papadopoulos: signing of protocol is Turkey's obligation to EU
Nicosia, Feb 1 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here today that Ankara has an obligation towards the European Union to sign the protocol to its custom union agreement with the EU, stressing that securing a signature from Ankara is not his priority since his priority is to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus.
Papadopoulos said the government's amended proposals with regard to the EU regulation on trade between the island's northern Turkish occupied areas and the southern government controlled part of the island (known as the Green Line regulation) will be submitted within the next few days and expressed the conviction that this regulation will be successfully concluded.
''Having Turkey sign the protocol is not our priority, it is an obligation by Ankara to the EU which has asked Turkey to sign it as soon as possible. Our priority is to solve the Cyprus problem,'' he added, speaking at a lunch, hosted by CAN, for correspondents of foreign news agencies and other media in Cyprus.
Such signature by Ankara would be ''a first significant step to normalize relations with Turkey and such normalization would certainly help solution efforts.''
Responding to questions, he said EU approved funds for the Turkish Cypriot community amounting to 259 million euro have not been allocated because Mehmet Ali Talat (self-styled premier in occupied Cyprus) raises obstacles.
He said he believes the EU is going to be involved in a more proactive role in efforts to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus, something he said he welcomes.
Papadopoulos said that all indications are that the UN Secretary General is reluctant to undertake any fresh initiative on Cyprus unless he has ''evidence, commitment, reassurances and suggestions'' that his proposed plan will be accepted.
President Papadopoulos dismissed suggestions that there is stalemate in efforts to find a political settlement, noting that talks always go on with interested parties.
On the economy, President Papadopoulos said the austerity budget in force now would help Cyprus join the ERM II, as public deficit is expected to drop by the end of the year.