Cyprus asks Straw to convey to Ankara its objection to Gul's proposals
Nicosia, Jan 25 -- Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou asked British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to convey to Ankara Cyprus' objection to the suggestions submitted on the Cyprus issue last Tuesday.
Talking to the press yesterday, Mr. Iacovou expressed the view that ''Turkey, in all haste, announced its proposals, hoping to derail its course regarding its EU obligations,'' to open its ports and airports for Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004.
''I told Mr. Straw to convey to Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul that his suggestions mean nothing, they add nothing at all and leave us at the same point as May last year, when Turkey made similar suggestions,'' Mr. Iacovou said.
Turkey had suggested the opening of its ports and airports to Cyprus (a Turkish obligation towards the EU), asking at the same time from Cyprus to allow the opening of the illegal airport and ports in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.
Mr. Iacovou also said that Mr. Straw did not make any effort to try to persuade the Cypriot side to accept Turkey's proposals, despite the fact that Straw's first reaction to the proposals was that they include some positive elements.
''Turkey's proposals connect issues that cannot be connected with each other. Opening its ports and airports for Cyprus is an obligation it has to fulfill in order to enter the EU and this can not be connected with the Cyprus issue, nor does it concern the UN Secretary General,'' Mr. Iacovou stressed.
Furthermore, he said that the Cypriot side cannot accept the Turkish proposals for a customs union of the occupied areas with the EU, the separate representation of Turkish Cypriots at international fora, the opening of the illegal airport in the occupied areas, but it does put back on the table its proposal regarding the opening of the occupied port of Famagusta.
During the meeting, Mr. Straw reaffirmed the commitment of Britain for a solution based on a bicommunal and bizonal federation and refuted that his visit to Cyprus was encouraged in any way by the UN Secretary General.
''We reaffirmed that the Cyprus issue remains under the UN auspices. Mr. Straw has not conveyed any message from the UN Secretary Genera, nor did he say that he is here with his blessings,'' Mr. Iacovou said.
He added that he informed Straw that the UN have had the chance to sound out the interested parties regarding a new initiative for the Cyprus issue, but had not done so, since ''the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey stick to their positions.''
Asked if there is going to be any mobility with a view to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, the Cypriot Minister referred to Straw's statement that there are two matters that run parallel, the efforts for a Cyprus settlement and Turkey's EU course.
He expressed the view that ''concerns that Cyprus has the upper hand regarding Turkey's EU course will lead to a new initiative so that there are no problems in the EU-Turkey accession negotiations.''
Mr. Iacovou added that efforts to solve the Cyprus issue and Turkey's EU course must not necessarily have the same duration, and he reminded that in a few weeks Turkey will be evaluated by the European Commission and the European Council in matters regarding the fulfillment of its EU obligations, some of which concern the normalisation of the Cyprus-Turkey relations and the extension of Turkey's Customs Union with Cyprus.