US administration distanced from visit to occupied north, says FM
Nicosia, Aug 8 (CNA) – Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said that the US State Department is keeping a distance regarding tonight’s scheduled visit to Cyprus' occupied areas by Congressional staffers.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday after a memorial service for two Greek Cypriots brutally murdered by Turks in August 1996, during anti-occupation demonstrations, Iacovou said the government has been aware of the issue and has reacted at different levels.
“The State Department is keeping a distance. It does not know much about the trip, which is not funded by Congress, and as far as we know, members of the House are not participating in this visit,” he said.
He explained that this was not a direct flight to the illegal airport at occupied Tymbou but one via Turkey.
On reports about a meeting between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Iacovou said he would favour such a meeting ''provided it takes place within a specific framework and has specific objectives”.
He said that such meetings are held under the UN aegis or the UN Secretary-General’s representatives.
In his speech at the annual memorial service, Iacovou said “we assert our right for a solution that will safeguard the human rights, the security of all citizens, the peaceful cohabitation and welfare of all the people, independent of race, language and religion.”
Such a solution, the Foreign Minister added, should not be subject to military occupation or face the threat of violence, or perpetuate the division of the country and the violation of fundamental rights.
“We are asserting our right to implement on the island the acquis communautaire and respect the principles on which the EU is based, so that our children will truly live like free European citizens”, the minister said.
He called for the return of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants.
Referring to Turkey’s European course, Iacovou said that Cyprus and Greece chose to support Turkey’s accession prospect. However, he said “Turkey must respect and fulfil its obligations towards the EU and its member states”.
He noted that Ankara's unilateral declaration, which accompanied Turkey’s signing of the protocol extending its customs union agreement to the ten new EU member states and which specified that Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, infringed community norms and decisions.