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President calls on Turkey to allow the Turkish Cypriots to negotiate
2009-09-11 09:54:07

Perugia, Sep 9 – The President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has urged Turkey to change its policy on Cyprus and allow the Turkish Cypriot side to negotiate for a solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of the agreed framework.

President Christofias, who concluded his official visit to Italy on September 9, was speaking at the University of Perugia, where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of communication systems in international relations by the University for Foreigners of Perugia.

“In order to pave the way for a solution to the Cyprus problem, three preconditions have to be met,” he said, adding that Ankara has to change its policy and allow the Turkish Cypriot leader to negotiate on the basis of the agreed framework.

“Ankara has a motive to change its policy. It is its ambition to enter the EU. In order for its European course to have perspective, it has to practically contribute to efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem. As long as the problem remains unresolved, Ankara will be faced with an additional and important obstacle during its European course,” he pointed out.

President Christofias added that the government of the Republic of Cyprus is not willing to give every time its consent with regards to the EU – Turkey relations, if Ankara continues to follow the same policy on Cyprus.

The second precondition, President Christofias added, is that the Turkish Cypriot side must submit to the negotiating table proposals and positions, which promote and serve the aim of a solution based on a federal state and not proposals, which lead to confederal approaches.

The third precondition is for the international community to exert pressure on Turkey, President Christofias said. He added that the international community has to bear in mind that not only its geostrategic interests have to be served, which have to do with Turkey, but international law as well, so that “a problem ceases to exist, a problem which endangers for decades now peace in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Noting that the Cyprus problem remains in the framework of the UN, he said that the EU also has an important role to play also in efforts to achieve a solution. “'The EU has to play an especially important role, given that Cyprus is already an EU member state and Turkey knocks on its door,” he said.

President Christofias described the ongoing UN-led direct negotiations as “very difficult. So far there have been convergences on some issues under negotiation, but also serious deviations in very important aspects of the Cyprus problem. The Turkish Cypriot side often submits positions which are not within the agreed framework,” he pointed out.

The President of the Republic of Cyprus said that the Greek Cypriot side “honors its commitments, by presenting positions which are fully in line with our goal to reach a solution and serve the interests of all people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.”

He said that the acceptance for a solution on the basis of a federation is a concession by the Greek Cypriot side and added “some forget this concession and talk about two states, which is an historic and political error and cannot be accepted by us.”

Speaking about Greece and Turkey, he said “we want Greece and Turkey to be friendly countries to us but we do not want again to have guarantors. The people of Cyprus are mature enough and do not need guardians,” he continued.

Referring to the history of the Cyprus problem, he said that the problem has two aspects. The first aspect is international and concerns the foreign occupation of Cyprus, the illegal policy of Turkey to bring settlers to Cyprus and the so-called guarantees. The second aspect is the internal one, which concerns the structure of the Cypriot state and relations between the two communities.

He noted that since 1974 and onwards, all efforts to solve the Cyprus problem have failed due to Ankara’s policy, which “insists on a settlement of the problem which would allow Turkey to continue exercising control over Cyprus. This is unacceptable for us and unacceptable for the international law and the UN charter,” he said.

The President of the Republic of Cyprus expressed the wish that Turkey will soon feel the need to comply with the relevant UN resolutions on Cyprus.

“Unfortunately all these years, Turkey has been finding, if not the support, the tolerance of powerful friends and allies. As a result, Ankara never felt the need to comply with the UN resolutions. We hope and wish, than even now, Turkey will feel the need to comply,” he went on to add.

President Christofias noted that the Cyprus problem was created during the years of the cold war and stressed that it is inconceivable to remain in perpetuation, given the fact that times have changed since then.

President Christofias, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, thanked the University for the honor, saying that the gesture constitutes a great honor for Cyprus as well.

“I am deeply moved and I feel great gratitude because I understand your decision as a recognition of the struggle to bring justice to Cyprus, and as a gesture of solidarity towards the tried, for decades now, people of Cyprus,” he said.

The President noted that during the last academic year 38 Cypriots enrolled with the University of Perugia, and around 300 Cypriots have graduated in the last decade.

“Rest assured that they will be the best ambassadors of Italy and Perugia in their country,”he said, referring to the Cypriot students.

Earlier, President Christofias met Mayor of Perugia who handed over to him the Seals of the Town. Speaking at the ceremony at the Town Hall of Perugia, President Christofias said that the peaceful coexistence between Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins is “a goal for life and a goal of the struggle to see Cyprus become a bridge of friendship”.

The Mayor of Perugia thanked President Christofias for his long struggle “for peace, democracy, human rights and peaceful coexistence” as well as for his efforts to reunify Cyprus.

President Christofias also met with the President of the region of Umbria Maria Rita Lorenzetti, who said that Umbria is preparing a plan for commercial exchanges and cooperation on tourism with Cyprus. President Christofias referred to the close bonds of friendship between Cyprus and Italy and wished the people of Umbria prosperity and development.

At the end of both meetings symbolic gifts were exchanged.

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