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Government: we keep different issues separately
2002-05-20 08:23:12

Nicosia, May 20 (CNA) -- Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou stressed here today that the UN peace effort to solve the Cyprus question and the country's accession course for European Union membership are two different things.

He also said that at this stage the Greek Cypriot side focuses its attention on working until the end of June to conclude an agreement on the core issues (governance, security, territory and property).

"The government neither wishes nor associates different issues. What we have before us at present is hard work until the end of June to reach an agreement on the core issues that make up the Cyprus problem, (governance, security, territory and property)" Papapetrou said at his daily press briefing.|

He said the government considers that "a political settlement and Cyprus' accession to the EU are two things that are not linked together", as this is outlined in the EU decision in Helsinki, that says a solution would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition.

On Cyprus' involvement in the creation of an EU rapid deployment force, he said this was a separate issue. Greece and Turkey are at odds on this matter, following an anglo-american document backed by Ankara saying that the Aegean and Cyprus should be exempt from any future deployment of this force.

Asked if there are attempts to see some issues mature towards the end of this year at a time when decisions on Cyprus' accession are expected to be taken, the spokesman replied "there is an obvious attempt to act in this direction, but surely not from us."

Various interested parties seem to favour an extension of the UN-led direct talks until autumn or even December when the EU is due to invite those candidate countries it considers ready to join the Union. Cyprus has closed 27 out of 30 chapters it is negotiating with the EU.

Replying to questions on the peace talks, he said Kofi Annan called on both sides to put aside issues of their status at the talks (which Turkish Cypriot leader insists on) and move decisively with discussions on the core issues with a view at reaching an agreement on them by the end of June.

He said Annan's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto "can do nothing else but to adopt and press on with what the Secretary General said on his departure from the island last week." De Soto has been conducting direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash, leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, since mid January this year.

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