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Kasoulides says Turkish intransigence blocking reunification
2002-09-21 15:41:50

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis-- United Nations, Sep 20 (CNA) - The main obstacle to the reunification of Cyprus is the insistence by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on "two separate sovereignties", Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides told a press conference in the United Nations.

Kasoulides, who is to address tonight the 57th Session of the UN General Assembly, explained that "having known the recent past history with the presence of the Turkish army and the de facto division of the island, we believe that separate sovereignties mean the legal right for legal partition in the future".

"It is unthinkable for our side to accept terms of a settlement which will prepare the ground for a legal divorce", he stressed.

The Minister also talked about UN-led directs talks taking place in Cyprus between President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash, and about the UN Secretary General's efforts to break the impasse.

Kasoulides said Kofi Annan's recommendations and thoughts, which he expressed to President Clerides and Denktash, "may help in breaking the present impasse".

"So far, I cannot report that the recommendations by the Secretary General were adequately addressed by Denktash", he noted.|

The Minister assured that the Greek Cypriot side would meet with Annan and Denktash in New York on October 3 and 4 "with our constructive attitude as it was demonstrated by statements made by the President of the Security Council".

Kasoulides said that the positions of the two sides were far apart. "It is the philosophy that separates the opinions of the two sides so much", he explained.

Asked what the first step would be for a solution, Kasoulides stated that the issue of Cyprus has been debated for a very long time.

"The time has come for a comprehensive settlement, without considering the first and second step", he said.

"Everything is there and has been debated in and out. We have to put together all those ideas into a comprehensive settlement mutually agreed by both sides", he added.

Kasoulides noted that the Security Council has described in numerous resolutions a solution providing for "one state of Cyprus, with a single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship, with two politically equal communities".

Underlining the EU factor, he expressed hope that "the window of opportunity that is still open in front of us, although gets narrower, will get exploited in its fullest, so that a settlement will be reached before the date of 12th of December".

"If Cyprus is not reunited by then, this will not be due to the lack of effort or lack of constructive approach by President Clerides", he said.

Kasoulides mentioned that it is in the interest of all parties concerned that a reunited Cyprus joins the EU, because it will benefit all the people of Cyprus, in particular the Turkish Cypriots, who are now in a position of political isolation and economic disadvantages, and also Turkey.

He added that if the December 12th deadline passes without a settlement, "another window of opportunity will have to open".

In diplomacy this always takes place, he said, stating also that "the efforts to reunite our country will continue until the problem is solved".

According to Kasoulides, another window of opportunity that could be opened after December 12th will be "to combine the interest of Turkey to join the EU with the interest of the Cypriots to see their country reunited, and making best use of these two factors to achieve finally the reunification".

Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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