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Spokesman: "Return of Varosha precondition for successful Finnish initiative"
2006-10-31 09:31:15

Nicosia, Oct 31 - Cyprus Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said on Tuesday that the precondition for the success of the Finnish EU presidency's initiative was the return of Varosha to its legitimate inhabitants, noting that the Finnish presidency had expressed some ideas and thoughts about talks in Helsinki, aimed at discussing its initiative.

The Spokesman said efforts were focusing on the success of the Finnish presidency's effort and noted that Turkey had so far not given any positive indications but several negative ones.

He said it was a fact that the Finnish presidency had expressed some ideas and thoughts a few days ago about talks in Helsinki, noting that ''if finally proximity talks are called in Helsinki, Turkey will surely be invited, as an occupying force, and as having the first and last word on the return of Varosha.''

Replying to questions, Pashiardis said that if the Republic of Cyprus was invited under the precondition he mentioned, then ''our answer will be positive.''

Asked what the Finns had actually said, Pashiardis said ''there are some thoughts and ideas of the Finnish presidency for representatives of the Turkish government and the Cypriot government to participate in proximity talks in an effort to successfully promote the Finnish initiative'' and further pointed out that ''there is no concrete proposal before us on the issue''.

Invited to say what level the talks would be held on, Pashiardis said it would most probably be between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Replying to questions, Pashiardis clarified that ''we will be invited as an EU member state'' and thus if Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will be present either just to state his presence or as a member of the Turkish delegation, ''this is of no concern to us.''

''We will not discuss the issue of the return of Varosha with Mr. Talat. It is a matter that does not concern him,'' Pashiardis added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas said that the Republic of Cyprus had not received an invitation and neither had Greece for a meeting regarding the Finnish proposal, noting that the solution of the Cyprus problem was not being discussed at this moment.

He said that the key to the whole issue was Varosha and the return of the people to their homes, adding that the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots do not participate in any talks because the issue solely concerns the Republic of Cyprus and the EU.

Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

According to reports, the Finnish EU Presidency is working on a draft proposal, providing for the opening of the Turkish occupied port of Famagusta under EU administration for 24 months, in combination with the opening of Turkish ports to ships carrying the Cypriot flag and the transfer of the closed city to the UN.

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