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Issue of illegal settlers on peace talks agenda, says spokesman
2002-11-06 08:09:29

Nicosia, Nov 6 (CNA) -- Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has revealed that the issue of illegal Turkish settlers, now living in the Republic's occupied areas, was part of the discussions in the context of the UN peace talks.

The spokesman ruled out any possibility of setting up a common partnership with these settlers, in the event of a settlement in Cyprus.|

''I want to assure you that the issue of the Turkish settlers was raised at the negotiating table and we stated categorically that the settlers must leave,'' Papapetrou said.

He said the Turkish Cypriot side maintained a different position.

President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Dentkash have been engaged in direct talks, under UN auspices, since January. Discussions focused on four core issues, namely governance, security, property and refugees. No substantive progress has been achieved so far towards a comprehensive settlement because of Dentkash's insistence on the creation of two separate states.

The spokesman's comments come in the wake of a debate at the House Refugee Committee on the changes in the demographic structure of the island's Turkish occupied areas.

The Committee heard that there are now 129.000 illegal Turkish settlers in occupied Cyprus and only about 75.000 indigenous Turkish Cypriots as opposed to about 120.000 prior to the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. In addition to these figures, Turkey maintains a 35,000 strong military contingent.

Replying to questions, Papapetrou said the Greek Cypriots are certainly not going to set up a partnership with the Turkish settlers.

A Council of Europe report has concluded that there has been a change in the demographic structure of the occupied areas.

The European Court of Human Rights holds Turkey responsible for what happens in occupied Cyprus by virtue of the presence of its troops, a court judgment said.

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