Cyprus can seek concessions from Turkey, says British diplomat
Nicosia, Jun 8 (CNA) -- A Cyprus solution can be achieved if the island's two communities really want it, see it and work hard to get it, British High Commissioner here Lyn Parker has said, adding that in such a case other parties involved will have to have this happen.
Declaring himself a realist, Parker called on the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides as well as Turkey to show a clear sense of commitment, purpose and urgency towards a settlement and advocated ''more dialogue'' on the island as a crucial building block for achieving a successful settlement negotiation.
Responding to questions at a meeting of Rotary clubs in Nicosia, he said the EU had taken a clear decision to begin accession talks with Turkey on 3 October this year, which he said would last a minimum of ten years.
Asked if he believed Turkey had any incentive now to settle Cyprus, following the French and the Dutch negative vote on the EU Constitution, Parker acknowledged that the Union was faced with a very big problem which the heads of government will have to tackle.
''A separate dimension to this relates to Cyprus. It is entirely legitimate for Cyprus to extract some concessions from Turkey,'' he said, with regard to possible fallout on Turkey's accession course in relation to efforts for a negotiated settlement.
He called on Nicosia to remain firmly committed to Ankara's accession course ''whatever bilateral problems'' are there.
Cyprus, whose northern part is occupied by Turkey, gave its consent along with its European partners to the start of accession negotiations between the EU and Ankara. The EU asked Turkey to sign a protocol adapting the Ankara Agreement to include all ten new members of the Union, including Cyprus which Turkey does not recognise. So far Turkey has not signed the customs union protocol, even though it said it would.
''Turkey's accession to the EU is the ultimate guarantee for a settlement,'' Parker said, adding that it is blatantly obvious that it is in the interests of Cyprus for Turkey to have a stable accession course.
On London's position on a political settlement he had this to say: ''Britain believes that a successful political settlement can only realistically be achieved through the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General.''
He said there would have to be ''substantial adjustments'' to a UN solution plan, rejected by the Greek Cypriots but approved by the Turkish Cypriots in separate referenda, if a satisfactory agreement is to be reached.
On the role of the EU, he said if talks resume, all EU governments would want to give the process all possible support as a facilitator in areas which relate to the EU acquis and pointed out that the critical decisions on a settlement rested with the parties themselves.
''The EU is not a negotiating forum on the core issues,'' he added.
He said complex issues like property can only be resolved through a negotiated settlement, ''not through a series of piecemeal court cases.''
Parker expressed concern that in the past few months there has been a ''sharp deterioration in the psychological climate on both sides'', after last year's failed attempt by the UN to reach a negotiated settlement.
The High Commissioner said it was important to keep a sensible balance between the Turkey factor and the Turkish Cypriot community, which has to be on board if a settlement is to be achieved.
On the forthcoming British presidency of the EU, he said it will have to deal with difficult dossiers such as future financing and the EU Constitution and stressed that the role of any EU presidency is not to promote its own national policies but to find practical and realistic solutions in the interests of all member states.