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President Papadopoulos: Cyprus problem at a ''critical juncture''
2005-09-19 13:08:41

United Nations, Sep 18 -- The Cyprus problem is at a ''critical juncture'' that calls for particular caution and resoluteness towards achieving a political settlement, President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed, before reiteratinghis firm commitment to seeking a bizonal, bicommunal federation, through negotiations, that would meet the concerns and expectations of all Cypriots.

Addressing the 60th session of the UN General Assembly on Sunday, he also said that Cyprus expects the UN to broker a negotiated settlement without arbitration and without deadlines directed by exogenous elements and with European Union contribution which, as he noted, would be catalytic.

The President stressed that there must be a change in Turkey's political aims towards Cyprus to accept a single reunified state on the island and pointed out that a radical shift in Ankara's mentality, as a result of its European Union accession course, would mark the single biggest development in the question of Cyprus for decades.

Mr. Papadopoulos also referred to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza strip and parts of the West Bank and urged ''other occupying powers'' to follow suit.

The President reiterated that in rejecting a UN-proposed solution plan (Annan plan), the Greek-Cypriots did not reject finding a solution that would reunify Cyprus nor the urgency of achieving this, but they rejected that particular proposed solution plan because ''it did not provide for and could not bring about the reunification of the country, its society, economy, and institutions.''

He also said that since April 2004, when the plan was turned down in a referendum, the priority of the Greek Cypriot side has been to ''revisit the content, product and shortcomings of the last negotiation process, which led to the referenda'' and at the same time ''dispel certain misconceptions that were solidified as a result of the last negotiation process.''

''One such misconception was that our constant and keen pursuit of peace and of achieving the reunification of our country has been diminished or that we have come to terms with the unacceptable division of our country,'' imposed by the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of the island's northern part, he pointed out.

He referred to another misconception concerning the UN role and its good offices mission which, as he stressed, has entered a new phase with the end of the referenda in which the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots (76 per cent) rejected the plan but 65 per cent of the Turkish Cypriots approved.

''Through this mission, which is an ongoing sustained process, we expect the UN to broker a negotiated settlement without any arbitration. The active contribution of the European Union in this regard would be catalytic,'' he said, underlining that ''only an agreed settlement, endorsed by the leadership of the two communities, can be put to referenda.''

The timetable for seeking a solution, he said, should be determined by the parameters of the Cyprus problem and as such, there should be no deadlines embedded in the process that are dictated by exogenous elements.

''We remain committed to holding negotiations under the umbrella of the United Nations and to working for the creation of those conditions that will render fruitful negotiations feasible,'' the President stressed, adding that in this context the government has been implementing substantial practical measures on the ground to build confidence and promote the economic development of Turkish Cypriots.

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