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Britain hopeful about consensus on counter-declaration
2005-09-06 13:04:59

Nicosia, Sep 6 (CNA) -- British High Commissioner here Peter Millett appeared hopeful that an EU ambassadors meeting tomorrow in Brussels will reach consensus on a counter-declaration in response to a unilateral declaration Turkey, made last month that it does not recognize one of its members, the Republic of Cyprus.

''I am reasonably confident that we can get a deal, we are very close to reaching an agreement on the counter-declaration. Our job now is to bridge the gaps between the many different views on the counter-declaration, ensure that the EU sticks to its commitments and that we reach our objective of starting the negotiations with Turkey on October 3,'' he said.

Speaking to journalists, he said once a deal is struck on this, the EU can move on to the negotiating framework for Turkey's accession talks.

''The EU counter-declaration is a political statement of what we expect Turkey to do,'' he said, and explained that Britain had told Turkey, prior to the signing of the protocol adapting the Ankara Agreement, to make its unilateral statement short and simple, to ensure that it does not break new ground and that it does not undermine the implementation of the protocol.

He stressed that the EU is not negotiating the text of the counter-declaration with Turkey and said that the points of principles had been resolved by the foreign ministers and now the details remain to be settled.

Responding to questions, he said the EU cannot require recognition by Turkey of Cyprus as a precondition for opening accession negotiations as this is not set out in the December 2004 conclusions.

Asked if Turkish threats to abandon its accession negotiations are real, he said that ''Ankara has a process of managing public opinion and parliamentary opinion which is very real, which is an issue which we have to take serioulsy.''

''The stability of the area and the ability of Turkey to contribute positively to any future UN process on Cyprus is something which must be to the benefit of Cyprus as well,'' he said.

The High Commissioner dismissed press reports that the debate on the counter-declaration among the 25 is actually a question of Britain against Cyprus.

''This is simply not the case, this is not a question of opposing camps. This has been the presidency playing the classic role of trying to find consensus,'' he said, noting that there is a collective EU agenda from last December's Council and Britain as the current presidency has a mandate to carry this through.

Commenting on statements by the Cyprus Government Spokesman that Nicosia would not tolerate Britain pushing its own policies, Millett replied ''I would like to see some evidence that we have been doing that as we have not been doing that.''

He said he had a ''very useful discussion'' this morning with Foreign Minister George Iacovou.

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