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Cypriot President says Turkish Cypriots negative at EU meeting
2005-06-16 10:15:55

Larnaca, Jun 16 (CNA) -- Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said today that during unofficial talks between the two sides in Brussels on the financial strengthening of the Turkish Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriot side showed no goodwill on issues raised by the Greek Cypriot side, namely the return of the fenced-off town of Famagusta to its owners and the termination of the exploitation of Greek Cypriot property in the areas of the island under Turkish occupation.

Speaking on departure for Brussels, where he will participate in the European Council, President Papadopoulos said that the package of issues discussed in Brussels was set by the EU's Luxembourg presidency and the European Commission, which thought that the Greek Cypriot demands ''were reasonable and could be combined'' with other matters raised.

Commenting on the talks in Brussels, President Papadopoulos said that ''we agreed on 6 October 2004 and have released the funds'' for this purpose.

He noted however that ''the Turkish side, backed by at least one country and perhaps another, tried to achieve blackmail,'' saying that they would not take the money unless arrangements were made for direct trade between the EU and the Turkish occupied areas.

President Papadopoulos said that ''the danger here is, if by the end of June they do not take the money, they may not be able to absorb it by the end of the year 2006, when the amount of 259 million euros ceases to be in effect,'' and thus, since the funds are not voted again, they money will be lost.

Asked if the British presidency of the EU (1 July 2005) would step up efforts to financially strengthen the Turkish Cypriots, President Papadopoulos said he did not have any such information.

He added that the country holding the rotating EU presidency ''always tries to maintain a neutral position because the presidency expresses all the members and not national interests.''

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