Cypriot FM meets EU officials in Brussels
By Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Jun 20 (CNA) -- Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas described as ?useful and productive? his meeting here Tuesday with Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.
Lillikas, who is in Brussels, had his first meetings since assuming office last week, with Cypriot Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Marcos Kyprianou and EU High Commissioner for External Policy, Xavier Solana.
During his discussions, the Cyprus problem, the package of measures to support Turkish Cypriots and Turkey?s obligations towards the EU were examined.
Speaking after meeting Rehn, Lillikas said they examined the financial protocol to support the Turkish Cypriots. The two sides concentrated on cooperation between the relevant services of the Commission and the Cyprus government in implementing the protocol.
Lillikas said that ?we believe that with good cooperation, prompt exchange of views and information the regulation will be able to be implemented more effectively to serve its aims which are the development of Turkish Cypriots and development of relations between the two communities to increase the aim of reunification?.
?We should be anticipating positive developments following today?s meeting?, the minister added.
Regarding the regulation for direct trade with the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, on the basis of negotiations under the Luxembourg presidency and the COREPER decisions, Lillikas underlined that ?despite the efforts of the Luxembourg and Austrian presidencies, there has been no progress because there has been no positive stance on the Turkish Cypriots? part?.
The Cypriot Minister said ?we would like the overall package to be adopted and for this reason we asked Mr. Rehn?s support and contribution?.
The EU Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) reached a decision on the financial regulation for the Turkish Cypriots in February, as well as the terms under which the regulation for direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus could be achieved.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
Rehn informed Lillikas that already the Finnish presidency, which will take over the EU presidency on 1st July, began dealing with the problem and will make efforts to solve it.
The Cypriot minister avoided predicting whether the Finnish presidency will succeed where the Austrian presidency failed. Within the framework of deliberations with the new presidency, Lillikas will meet his Finnish counterpart in Helsinki when the right date is found or during the next General Affairs Council on 19 July in Brussels.
Lillikas also informed Rehn on the latest developments following President Tassos Papadopoulos? meeting in Paris with the UN Secretary-General, as well as efforts underway for discussions on a technical level with the representatives of the two leaders in Cyprus.
He said they also discussed UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari?s forthcoming visit to Cyprus. Lillikas said Rehn agrees that the effort should be to prepare a new round of talks and not just a discussion on everyday issues. The minister said Rehn?s view is that all these initiatives and regulations should lead to a solution and reunification and not the creation of two separate states.
Regarding Turkey?s EU course, the FM said that the Cypriot side expressed its concern over Ankara?s refusal to respond to its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus. We stressed that Ankara should be persuaded and pressure should be exerted so that it will proceed with the implementation of its commitments during the time until October and the Commission?s progress report. Lillikas said Rehn expressed his concern on this issue, adding that he does not hesitate to take an open stand on the subject.
During his meeting with Solana the two discussed international issues, (Iran) and the Cypriot Minister concentrated on Turkey?s tactics to prevent Cyprus? participation in programmes within the framework of cooperation between the EU and NATO.
The Minister said there is the phenomenon that although Cyprus financially supports these programmes, it cannot have any direct participation.
Solana said this was a complicated issue, noting he agrees that all 25 EU states should participate in these programmes.
Lillikas also met with Cypriot Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Marcos Kyprianou where they examined issues concerning Cyprus and Kyprianou?s responsibilities.