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Cyprus President proposes demilitarization of Nicosia’s walled city
2007-01-18 11:30:25

Nicosia, Jan 16 - The demilitarization of the walled city of Nicosia is part of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos’ proposals to the UN regarding the opening of a crossing point at the end of Ledra Street, one of the capital’s main commercial streets.

Talking to foreign correspondents in Nicosia, President Papadopoulos also stressed the importance of securing safe passage for Cypriots crossing from and into the Turkish occupied areas of the country at this specific location.

“Our proposal provides for the withdrawal of troops from both sides. We had two alternative proposals, first the troops from the vicinity should be withdrawn by both sides, the area to be turned over to UN control or total demilitarization of the walled city of Nicosia and the policing of the area turned over to the police and UNFICYP,” he said.

He added that after the demolition of a bridge, illegally constructed there by the illegal occupation regime, Turkish troops have established positions in the area and manned military posts within the buffer zone. He also wondered whether the UN, that have the responsibility in the buffer zone, will accept this violation of no man’s land.

The President expressed hope that during 2007 there will be sufficient preparation for substantive negotiations leading to Cyprus settlement, and added that the agreement he reached with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat in July last year is a working tool towards this direction.

He also noted that a meeting with Mr. Talat without proper preparation would confirm the gap between the two sides and stressed that dialogue without good preparation would only confirm the deadlock.

Asked about the ongoing talks between his top aide, Mr. Tassos Tzionis and Mr. Talat’s aide Mr. Rasit Pertev, he said: “We know exactly what the other side is aiming at, and they know exactly what we are aiming at. They clearly want to establish in Cyprus two separate legal entities, upgrade their own entity to a state short of diplomatic recognition.”

He also said: “We want a solution that will lead to the reunification of the state, the territory, society, economy, institutions.” He then noted that many say that a solution must serve, primarily, the interests of the Cypriot people, not those of foreign countries but he himself believes a solution must serve “exclusively” the interests of Cypriots.

“We are hopeful that soon enough everybody will realize that a solution is better than deadlock,” he added.

The President also said that from now on all five permanent members of the UN Security Council will be engaged in efforts to solve the Cyprus question.

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