Cypriot FM says Council decision on aid regulation important landmark
by Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Feb 27 (CNA) - Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou described Monday's decision of the General Affairs Council to adopt the aid regulation for Turkish Cypriots as an ''important landmark'' in the relations of Cyprus, the EU and its member states.
According to community sources, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul tried to influence several member states at the last moment, to object to the political decision achieved during Friday's COREPER meeting or at least to note that the decision was not anticipated.
Iacovou said that member states welcomed with relief the decision which decoupled the aid regulation from that of direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.
He described today's decision as an important landmark in relations with the EU, but also in relation with the various moves that are on the horizon.
Iacovou referred to tomorrow's meeting between President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Paris, noting it will take place in a more positive climate because a deadlock was overcome, something which was not evident some weeks ago.
He further said that the decision was taken shortly after Gul's proposals, the basis of which was the opening of ports not only of Famagusta but generally the occupied areas and airports.
Therefore it is a message to Gul, who tried to gain the support of member states, something which, with the exception of Great Britain and the US, did not manage to achieve, Iacovou said.
In his remarks, Iacovou referred to the activity which Nicosia undertook with the assumption of the Austrian Presidency of the EU, noting that the regulations' issue was one of the main issues of discussion between President Papadopoulos and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.
Referring to the substance of the decision, Iacovou pointed out that on the one hand there was a decoupling of the two regulations while on the other hand the necessary prerequisites for the regulation concerning direct trade were agreed upon. These prerequisites move within the framework of Nicosia's proposals for the return of Famagusta and measures taken against those exploiting the properties of Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas on the basis of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Minister referred to the aid regulation, reminding that unfortunately 120 million euros for the Turkish Cypriots were lost and this was due to the stance adopted by the Turkish Cypriots, Ankara and ''some of their friends in the EU.''
He said that the implementation of the regulation will be undertaken directly by the European Commission which will send bureaucrats to Cyprus for that purpose and not by the organisation for the restructuring of the Balkans, which will be dissolved.