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Kasoulides says elections in Turkey may complicate Cyprus question
2002-07-23 18:56:27

Nicosia, July 23 (CNA) -- Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides has said that whatever the outcome of the elections in Turkey may be, it will complicate efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, adding however that much will depend on the timetable of those elections.

He added that "Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will take advantage of the pre-election period in Turkey to state that it is not the right time to make any 'concessions' regarding the direct talks" that were launched in January between President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash, under UN auspices, aimed at reaching a settlement of the Cyprus issue.

In an interview with London Greek Radio, Kasoulides also stressed that political developments in Turkey as well as US plans for operations in Iraq will complicate things and will minimise the possibility for the US, the EU, Great Britain and the UN to use their influence so that the window of opportunity that has opened now to solve the Cyprus problem is not closed.

Referring to the direct talks, Kasoulides said the next ten meetings between the leaders of the two communities would indicate whether the Turkish side has the political will to move ahead with substantive talks for a solution of the Cyprus problem.|

He expressed certainty that Cyprus' EU accession course will proceed "very well" even despite the change of governments in various EU countries.

Kasoulides described the signing of the Accession Treaty, scheduled to take place when Greece will be holding the rotating EU presidency in the first half of the year 2003, as "symbolic and moving" and said that the Greek EU presidencies have always been "beneficial" for Cyprus.

"Without Greece we would not have reached this stage in our accession course, as its help has always been very precious", he said.

Replying to questions, Kasoulides said he was certain that the British government would support Cyprus' accession at the Copenhagen EU Summit in December this year.

"Britain is a guarantor power for the unity, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Cyprus and we believe that it should remain faithful to this commitment", Kasoulides said.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of the island's territory.

The island opened accession negotiations with the EU in April 1998 and has so far provisionally closed 28 out of 31 chapters of the acquis communautaire

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