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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Christofias: we’ll be objective on Turkey during presidency ]

Christofias: we’ll be objective on Turkey during presidency

Author: 
Stefanos Evripidou

CYPRUS IS “absolutely ready” to continue peace talks during its EU Presidency, said President Demetris Christofias, adding that the return of the fenced-off part of Famagusta – Varosha- could give momentum to the process.  

In an interview with the Turkish Policy Quarterly, Christofias highlighted that Cyprus’ EU Presidency was independent of any peace efforts underway. 

“We will not use our position as Presidency of the Council for the promotion of national positions, as is being claimed in Turkey,” he said, adding, “We will implement the decisions of the EU in relation to the candidate countries, including Turkey, with objectivity and neutrality, as proponents of the Council’s common positions. We hope that Ankara will respond in good faith and understand our sincere intentions.”

Christofias called on Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to prove with actions not words that they are working to reunify the island and bridge the distance between the two sides, “instead of widening this gap with counterproductive proposals and positions”.

“We call upon Turkey to end its provocative and aggressive behavior and its threats to promote a so-called ‘Plan B’ for upgrading the occupied areas,” he said.

Asked how momentum could be injected into the dying peace process, the president reiterated his 2010 three-part proposal for the return of Varosha to its lawful inhabitants under the administration of the UN, use of Famagusta port by Turkish Cypriots under the supervision of the EU, and unblocking chapters in Turkey’s EU accession negotiations. 

The package of confidence-building measures (CBMs) would create jobs and wider prospects for the Turkish Cypriot community, while also benefiting the Greek Cypriot community as well as strengthening the viability of Famagusta port, he argued. 

“The implementation of this proposal will greatly enhance the negotiations, cultivating trust between the two communities. Turkey can also gain by implementing this proposal,” he said, referring to the prospect of jolting Turkey’s accession path back to life.  

Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu was quoted in the Turkish Cypriot press showing readiness to discuss Varosha and other CBMs with Christofias, though he would not say ‘yes’ to everything, he warned. 

Eroglu was also quoted saying that the fenced-off ‘ghost town’ was part of the territory of the breakaway regime. Previous Turkish reports had suggested plans were afoot to open Varosha to first generation refugees only and under Turkish Cypriot rule, contrary to relevant UN resolutions on the matter.   

Direct peace talks between the two leaders have reached a comatose state with UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer throwing in the towel on hosting high-level leaders’ meetings. Instead, the UN decided to downgrade the process to technical level discussions and CBMs, keeping the talks afloat until after next February’s presidential elections. 

Christofias told the Turkish Policy Quarterly that the year and a half of direct negotiations with Eroglu’s predecessor Mehmet Ali Talat had yielded results, with progress made in some core aspects of the talks, though disagreements did not permit them to achieve as much progress as expected. 

After Eroglu took over, the Turkish Cypriot leader “backtracked significantly on various convergences between the two sides on issues such as sovereignty, the executive, and on the implementation of the four freedoms after a transitional period, as well as on the FIR (Flight Information Region) issue,” he argued. 

Asked whether he was considering a formula to share natural gas revenues with Turkish Cypriots or reserve them for a future federated state, Christofias said Turkish Cypriots and Turkey could benefit from the exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits. 

“However, the Cyprus problem must first be solved to enable the development of partnerships and synergies for the benefit of all involved and the whole region,” he said. 

 

 



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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