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Lord Hannay: Crucial time in efforts to solve Cyprus problem
2002-11-20 13:07:20

By Costas Iordanides -- Athens, Nov 20 (CNA) ? British envoy for Cyprus, Lord David Hannay, said it was a very crucial time in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, stressing that there have been quite a lot of encouraging developments recently.

Speaking in the Greek capital after meeting Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Lord Hannay said that their discussion was useful while commenting on the delay of the Turkish Cypriot side to reply to UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan's plan for a Cyprus settlement, said one should consider Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's health and that the new government in Turkey has just been formed.

However, he emphasised that the Secretary-General's appeal should not fall in deaf ears.

"It is a very crucial time in this major effort to settle the Cyprus problem," said Lord Hannay, noting there "have been quite a lot of encouraging developments in recent weeks."

"I think we all agree, we in Britain and Greece, that we want to try to put the best possible use of the period, between now and 12th December, because as we stated in Brussels yesterday, the best outcome of all would be if we get a settlement in that period of time, and if we could work on a reunited Cyprus into the EU on December 12," he said.

The British envoy remarked he would be very active, travelling to Cyprus later Wednesday and then to Ankara during the weekend. Tomorrow he is expected to hold a working breakfast with President Glafcos Clerides.

Asked what would happen to Cyprus' accession to the European Union (EU) if there were no settlement, Lord Hannay referred journalists to the Helsinki European Council conclusions. "I would suggest you read the Helsinki conclusions and you will find the answer contained in the Helsinki conclusions which remain the doctrine of my government's policy," he said.|

Invited to comment on the delay of the Turkish Cypriot side to reply to Secretary-General's proposal, Lord Hannay said the response from President Clerides is "extremely welcomed and I am sure the Secretary-General of the UN is very happy to receive that response and I am sure it will be followed up in the form of discussions clarifications."

A response, he added, "is waited from the other side."

Lord Hannay said, "one has to recognise that they are working under some considerable constraints. Mr. Denktash's health, which is a serious problem and also the fact that Turkey has only two days ago formed a new government. The new Foreign Minister has just taken office. So I think one should be a little more careful about characterizing the situation now," he said.

The SG explained yesterday, Lord Hannay said, "how urgent and important it is to get on and find a method to deal with the follow-up to his proposals," adding that it is also worth remembering that Justice and Development leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has just led the party which won the majority in Turkey, "has already said that he considers the SG's proposals as a basis for negotiations."

"I know no word has yet come from the T/C side but I think one needs to keep that all in mind and to say that the SG's appeal will not fall in deaf ears," Lord Hannay added.

The Helsinki European Council in 1999 underlined that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the EU. If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition and in this, the Council will take account of all relevant factors.

The Greek Cypriot side replied Monday to the UN within the requested time framework of seven days from the day the UN proposal was presented on November 11.

However, the Turkish Cypriot side failed to meet Monday's deadline. Denktash is still recovering in New York since October 7 following open-heart surgery. His advisor, Ergun Olgun, said Monday that Denktash had not yet been able to consult with members of his regime in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus or with Turkish Cypriot political leaders.

Denktash was also unable to consult with the Turkish authorities.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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