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Cyprus President ready for talks “tomorrow”
2006-01-17 11:31:31

Nicosia, Jan 17 – Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos told foreign correspondents in Nicosia that he is ready to return to the negotiating table “tomorrow” if the UN Secretary General invites him to talks, with no terms and no conditions.

He also said that there is nothing further than the truth that he wants a settlement “in the depth of time.”

Speaking at a lunch hosted by the Cyprus News Agency for foreign correspondents, he also said that the EU can, if it considers it necessary, put a halt on Turkey’s accession negotiations or postpone them, should Ankara fail to meet its obligations towards the Union, including opening its ports and airports to Cypriot flagged ships and aircraft.

Asked what it would take to return to talks, he replied “an invitation by the Secretary General with no terms and no conditions, come to the talks tomorrow and I will, nothing else”.

Fending off criticism that he does not want a political settlement, he said “there is nothing further than the truth that I have ever planned or now expect a solution in Cyprus in the depth of time” adding that it is “ridiculous” to suggest that he does not want a solution.

“We do not want a solution that would simply be used as an opportunity to eliminate from the map the legal entity which is called Republic of Cyprus, we do not want an unworkable solution, we want a viable solution that will have the chance to function normally,” he stressed, noting that he has already given his positions on the changes he wants to a UN solution plan (Annan plan) in detail and with clarity to the UN.

The President pointed out that the name of any solution plan is immaterial but its content is important.

“We have two choices to go further, either we accept that the Cyprus problem will remain under the UN or it will be something else, under a different umbrella. I do not think there are many people who want to eliminate the UN as the proper forum for the discussion of Cyprus, Turkey does not certainly want any change and the EU does not want to substitute the UN in their role or inherit a headache of Cyprus,” he said.

The EU, he explained, is bound to have an active role in any future negotiations.

Referring to initiatives to resume a dialogue, he wondered whether this meant face to face negotiations between the leaders of the two sides or preparatory work aiming at a constructive dialogue.

“The worst situation for the Greek Cypriots would be another round of talks which will fail in 2-3 months,” he said, adding that a new deadlock in Cyprus would be “catastrophic” for the Greek Cypriots.

On Turkey’s European aspirations, he said the EU want Turkey to negotiate and there is no member that wishes Turkey not to negotiate its accession, something he described as “good” for Cyprus.

“There is no country that is prepared to stop the negotiations unless there is very serious reason affecting the EU “ he said, adding that Brussels has no other measures to ensure compliance to its rules by an applicant country other than stopping or postponing accession negotiations.

Asked if Cyprus would want the EU to use this measure if Turkey continues to block the usage of its ports and airport by Cypriot vessels and aircraft, the President replied “it depends on the attitude of Turkey”.

On his forthcoming visit to Russia, he said he expects to sign several agreements on cooperation in cultural matters, veterinary issues, commerce, investment, double taxation and the allocation of visa.

He described bilateral relations with Russia as “excellent” and said he would like more involvement of the five permanent Security Council member states in the Cyprus peace effort towards a solution.

The President said that Mrs. Cherie Blair’s handling of a property case involving British nationals in Turkish occupied Cyprus “brings to the minds of the people other connotations” but he did express faith in British justice.

“I condemn any notion that may exist in those who briefed Mrs. Blair in harbouring the view perhaps hope that her status might be of some influence to the courts,” he said, adding that this is bad for any country and its system of justice.

Mrs Blair is set to defend a British couple who were ordered by a local court to demolish the house they had built in occupied Cyprus on Greek Cypriot land. The couple filed an appeal before the British courts and the case is to be tried soon.

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