Cyprus President condemns visit of businessmen to occupied areas
Larnaca, Feb 17 (CNA) – Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has condemned a visit to the Turkish occupied north of the island by a delegation of business people, who represent American companies in Turkey, adding that representations have been made where appropriate.
Speaking to the press, President Papadopoulos said the arrival of the business people and the commercial attache of the American embassy in Ankara via an illegal port of entry “provokes the sentiments of the people of Cyprus'', noting such actions “do not contribute at all towards creating the necessary climate in efforts to reunite Cyprus”.
He also said that the government is trying to “strengthen as much as possible relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots” because “that would create the climate and the preconditions for the reunification of people, institutions and the economy”.
''We encourage cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in the economic sector, provided that they are within the law and comply with international law and European Union regulations,'' he added.
President Papadopoulos said the Republic encourages the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots and reiterated “that as we had promised the EU, we have developed and expanded the Green Line Regulation” on trade, which was adopted today by the EU Council of ministers.
The regulation aims to further facilitate the movement of goods and persons across the Green Line, dividing the Turkish occupied north of the island from the free areas of the Republic.
The Cypriot President urged Turkish Cypriots to “take advantage of the great opportunities” provided by the regulation to further develop trade between the free areas and the occupied north and with the rest of the world.
This regulation, he added, eases to a great extent economic development, if this is what is being pursued.
However, he pointed out, it seems that others want to use such measures to advance the regime in the occupied areas and to obtain political advantages.
Responding to criticism from the Turkish Cypriot regime about trade restrictions, President Papadopoulos said “Mehmet Ali Talat is the one preventing and prohibiting trade with the free areas”.
Talat, self-styled prime minister in occupied Cyprus, wants the EU to adopt a regulation allowing direct trade between the Union and the occupied north before Brussels releases funds to the Turkish Cypriots, amounting to 259 million euro.
President Papadopoulos expressed the view that the US and other states will not recognise the occupied areas, noting that “the Turkish Cypriots are not pursuing this goal at present” for various reasons.
He said Turkey, aspiring to join the EU, has an obligation to sign the Customs Union protocol, adding he believes it will do so soon, even before 3rd October which is the deadline set out by Brussels for the signature that would allow Ankara to begin accession negotiations.
In another development, the House Legal Affairs Committee unanimously condemned the visit of the business delegation from Turkey, describing it as “unacceptable and provocative”.
It called on the government to make the necessary political representations.
The chairman of the Committee Ionas Nicolaou said it was an unacceptable action because the Republic of Cyprus is the only recognised government in Cyprus.
He also said the government, through representations, should seek a dialogue with the US administration on Cyprus and on the claim that Turkish Cypriots are isolated.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island’s northern third.