Government Spokesman Says Turkey’s EU Course Should Help Solution Effort
Nicosia, Jun 16 – The government has agreed to the start of accession negotiations between Turkey and the European Union with a specific strategy in mind, to help resolve the question of Cyprus, through leverage on Ankara and Turkey’s cooperation towards this goal, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said in Nicosia today.
“The policy of President of the Republic Demetris Christofias is based on making the most out of Turkey’s accession course to ensure that Ankara is persuaded to cooperate for a solution to the Cyprus issue, which will be to the interest of the people of Cyprus,” he added.
His statement came following remarks by Vice President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, Gunter Verheugen on Monday that the government of Turkey in 2004 fully endorsed a UN-backed solution plan (the Annan plan) which provided for a Turkish military presence on the island of only 600 troops.
Mr. Stephanou pointed out however that the Commissioner had said in his remarks that now all this belongs in the past.
In April 2004, a solution plan presented by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was put to simultaneous referenda. The Turkish Cypriot community voted in favor, while the Greek Cypriot community rejected it as unacceptable as it did not meet its main concerns.
Regarding Mr. Verheugen’s statements on Turkey’s EU course, Mr. Stephanou said that Cyprus has endorsed the start of accession talks, and has a clear strategic line, that through these negotiations and the commitments Turkey has undertaken, “we can find ways to exert pressure while Turkey can find the incentive to cooperate in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.”
“This is a strategy that not only this government implements but also previous governments have followed,” he remarked.
The Spokesman said that the strategy to continue towards a solution in relation to Turkey’s European aspirations and then its accession course has been mapped out since 1999 and this was the logic that led to the 2004 events, “even if these events had been applied in the wrong manner,” he added.