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British MP says Turkey must withdraw troops from Cyprus
2005-07-19 11:24:07

Nicosia, Jul 19 (CNA) -- North London Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet, Theresa Villiers, has said that ''if Turkey wants to be in the EU then it must remedy its human rights record and it must withdraw its troops from Cyprus.''

Speaking at the 16 July annual rally in London's Trafalgar Square, organised by the National Federation of Cypriots in Great Britain to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Villiers said that last October, Turkey promised to extend its customs agreement with the EU to cover all new member states, noting that ''it is vitally important that they do this because it will mean that they recognise the government of Cyprus.''

''They still haven't done this. Unless they do so before 3 October, Tony Blair must block the opening of accession negotiations,'' she added, according to a press release issued by her office.

Villiers urged those attending the rally to put pressure on their MPs to ensure that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw use the six months of British Presidency of the EU to put pressure on Turkey to recognise the Republic of Cyprus and withdraw its troops from the island.

Referring to the Greek Cypriot community's rejection of the solution plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last year, Villiers said ''no means no,'' adding that ''the international community must make every effort to get the two sides talking again and come up with a new proposal for a settlement, which should then be voted on by the people of Cyprus.''

Villiers concluded by saying that she would continue to fight for justice for Cyprus in her new role as MP for Chipping Barnet.

According to the press release, Villiers' participation in the Trafalgar Square rally follows on from other events to commemorate the anniversary of the invasion.

On 13 July she met with the relatives of missing persons, who were protesting outside the House of Commons, and on the same day co-hosted a lobby of MPs along with President of the National Federation of Cypriots Charis Sophoclides, which was attended by over a hundred Cypriots and a number of British MPs.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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