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President Christofias: London Talks A Turning Point
2008-06-05 11:22:09

London, June 5 - President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has described the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Britain and his talks on Thursday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a ''turning point'' in relations with London.

He told a press conference after his meeting with Mr. Brown that he was satisfied with the result of their talks. At the same time, he underlined the significance of the 1960 Treaties which established the Republic of Cyprus and the two countries' commitment to them. He also stressed that the withdrawal of the British Bases from the island is not on the agenda at present, adding that Cyprus does not need guarantors or guarantees.

Asked if Britain expressed readiness to remove its military bases from the island in the event of a solution, Mr. Christofias said ''the 1960 Treaties are very important for the Republic of Cyprus because based on these treaties, the Republic was created. So we both support the 1960 treaties and this is not by chance''.

The removal of the bases from Cyprus, he noted, is not on the agenda of either countries now, stating that: ''this is something which we are going to discuss together with the Turkish Cypriots as partners of the united Republic of Cyprus after we recover from the wounds of the Turkish invasion, occupation and this longstanding tragedy for the people of Cyprus''.

He said the dialogue has to be towards the implementation of the obligations deriving from the 1960 treaties. Asked if they discussed the Treaty of Guarantees and the role of the powers, President Christofias said they did not go into detail of the various aspects which make up the Cyprus problem. Cypriots, he pointed out, “are mature enough to handle their own affairs, without guarantors and guarantees''.

On the memorandum which the UK had signed with Turkey, Mr. Christofias said that: ''I think that today's memorandum gives a clear answer'' and quoted the paragraph in the document which notes the UK's commitment to its obligations as a guarantor power and that it will not support any moves towards the partition of the island or the recognition or upgrading of any separate political entity on the island.

''I think this is a very clear position that the PM and I agreed together today'', he added.

Invited to say whether PM Brown gave specific examples on how he intends to influence Turkey to fulfill its EU obligations, Mr. Christofias said: ''the PM promised he will use his influence and use his good relationship with the Turkish leadership in order to promote in practice what we agreed for a solution to the Cyprus problem. And this is satisfactory for me.''

President Christofias also said that Mr. Brown was very interested in the progress achieved in discussions at the bicommunal teams of experts in Cyprus, which are working to prepare the ground for direct talks between the leaders of the island’s two communities.

''I could not say that in all groups we have the same result. There are groups which have moved forward, other groups which didn't and of course there is a very important group which hasn't been created until now'', he added.

President Christofias said there is still time ahead for the leaders and members of the groups to intensify their work because ''it is our desire to achieve progress which we will estimate with Mr. Talat in order to decide if and when we are going to begin face to face intensive negotiations for an overall agreement on the Cyprus problem''.

On today’s meeting, he said: ''I am satisfied with our meeting. There is a promise, from both of us, I could say, a commitment. So I have hopes, I have the desire and I want to trust the PM that he is also going to honor the commitment that we both made today''.

Asked if he believes that today the UK is determined more than ever to play a role as a guarantor power for a solution to the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said if he had left Downing Street today without being satisfied that they were going to turn page in the relationship of the two countries, ''then we would have failed.”

“I have the opposite conclusion. That it's a new day, it's a turning point towards the normalisation, because we had some events which made us, the people of Cyprus, a little frustrated. So I think that it is a turning point, and a new era in the relationship between our two countries'', he said, adding that it was a warm, friendly discussion and the substance is that both are ready and determined to move forward.

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