Kasoulides: Now is the best opportunity for a solution
Nicosia, May 23 (CNA) -- Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides
stressed that the current period offers the best opportunity ever to reach a
solution to the Cyprus problem, and that Turkish threats for tension in Cyprus,
should the island enter the EU prior to a settlement, would not prevent Cyprus'
Kasoulides said that Cyprus' bid to join the EU gives an impetus to the ongoing direct peace talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Despite that, he noted, there are no positive signs in the peace talks.
"We consider that since the beginning of the direct talks there is now the best opportunity ever to find a solution to the Cyprus problem ", Kasoulides told members of the EU-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), meeting in Nicosia, May 22-24.
Mechtild Rothe, German MEP and Co President of the JPC, stressed that any Turkish aggression aiming to prevent Cyprus' accession to the EU would have an impact on Turkey's European perspective.
Cypriot Co President of the JPC, Tassos Papadopoulos, said Turkey was not willing to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus issue, unless its demand for recognition of two states was accepted.|
"I can not imagine that an artificial tension created by Turkey would make the EU give in. If this happens, then Turkey will continue interfering to EU policy", Kasoulides said.
Concerning a future settlement of the Cyprus problem he said it should not contain those ingredients that may lead to the legal separation and partition of the country and noted that so far there are no positive signs in the direct talks process.
He added that the Greek Cypriot side has responded to the Turkish Cypriot concerns but the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has not yet responded to the fears and concerns of the Greek Cypriot community.
Kasoulides expressed the government's determination not to leave unexploited any window of opportunity to solve the Cyprus issue.
"I hope," he added, "that the Seville European Council (June 2002) and the G8 meeting will use their influence in giving a determined position if things proceed as they have been doing since last December".
Kasoulides also expressed certainty that the European Commission in its recommendations to the European Council, to be submitted October 2002, will include Cyprus among the countries ready to join the EU at its next enlargement.
Rothe said that "Turkey can not prevent or delay Cyprus' accession to the EU", adding that "it would be beneficial for Turkey if it contributed to efforts for a solution".
Rothe expressed hope that Cypriot parliamentarians, including Turkish Cypriots, would participate in the European Parliament's elections in 2004.
"We look forward to Cyprus' accession, we need Cyprus" Rothe said.
Papadopoulos noted that the "Greek Cypriot side has been constructive in the direct talks whereas the Turkish side is not even willing to start substantive talks on the four core issues, as outlined by the UN Secretary General."
He expressed the conviction that the European Commission would include, in its 2002 Regular Report, Cyprus among the countries ready for accession.
On his departure from Cyprus, where he paid last week a 48-hour visit the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, to focus on the core issues of governance, security, territory and property, during talks to solve the Cyprus problem.
Clerides and Denktash have been engaged in UN-led direct talks since mid January this year, with a view to negotiate until a settlement is reached. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.