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Dutch FM: Turkey must normalize relations with Cyprus
2006-09-07 11:51:03

Nicosia, Sep 6 -- If Turkey wishes to continue its EU accession negotiations, it must normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state since 1 May 2004, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Bot stressed here on Wednesday.

Mr. Bot, in Cyprus for a working visit at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart George Lillikas, said that he came to the island in the light of the October EU progress report on Turkey.

''It is in this light that I have come to listen about the situation in Cyprus, what their opinion is about a possible progress in the negotiations between Turkey and Cyprus because I think that if you want to continue the accession negotiations with Turkey it is very important that the situation between Cyprus and Turkey be normalised,'' he said.

He also said that he had been informed about the Cypriot government's proposals on Famagusta, that provide for the opening of the Turkish occupied port of Famagusta under the joint administration of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and under EU supervision, as well as the return of the fenced off town Varosha to its legal inhabitants.

He expressed regret that Ankara continues to refuse to implement the Ankara Protocol, by not opening its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and aircraft.

''Most important is to see whether we can create any progress because the situation is frozen at present, it is a matter of concern in all EU countries because we would like to see that negotiations between EU and Turkey can proceed even with a very slow pace, it would take 10 to 15 years,'' Mr. Bot added.

He said that it would not be a good idea if the negotiations with Turkey were to stop, adding that ''we are trying to explore possibilities for a movement on all sides, so in October we can come to the conclusion that parties are approaching each other, that a compromise is possible and of course the difficulty is to explore the limits of that compromise, the possibilities that are present at the moment.''

Mr. Bot also said that one of the EU demands is that Turkey submits the Ankara Protocol to the parliament and described the ideas put forward by the Luxembourg EU presidency as ''a very good basis for finding a solution.''

''In the meantime we try to explore confidence building measures that would contribute to the process and help the start of the process. Both parties have to make a little move forward and others can help to push in the hope that this would lead to an overall satisfactory conclusion of a problem that has been haunting us for such a long period,'' the Dutch Minster added.

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