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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-08-29

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The refusal of the Turkish Cypriot side to allow Greek Cypriot pilgrims access to a Turkish occupied church to pray has been described as a provocative decision by Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou, who subsequently walked out of a meeting on Friday with Ozdil Nami, advisor to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    Iacovou cut the meeting short when the UN Secretary General`s Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun announced the Turkish Cypriot decision to refuse Kato Pyrgos village citizens permission to pass through Limnitis on an organised pilgrimage to Saint Mamas.

    In statements at the Presidential Palace, Iacovou said Zerihoun had informed him shortly after his arrival for the meeting that he had received a letter from the Turkish Cypriots saying that they would be denying Greek Cypriot pilgrims access to the Turkish occupied church of Saint Mamas to pray.

    He said ``this of course is sad news`` and described it as a ``provocative decision,`` adding that he decided he could not continue his scheduled meeting with Nami, made a detailed statement about the reasons he could not continue and walked out.

    Iacovou noted that Zerihoun asked to see him in private. ``I answered of course I am willing, whenever he likes, to discuss the issues emanating, not only from today`s discussion, but that of the day before and the many others concerning the opening of the Limnitis crossing point,`` he added. Iacovou said the meeting might take place on Saturday.

    ``Mr. Nami was there when I arrived and indeed we began a preliminary discussion but Mr. Nami, I think sensing that he had to inform me of this development, stopped and informed me,`` he said.

    Asked if Nami explained the reasons of the decision, Iacovou said he did not but expressed hope that this would not affect the direct negotiations between the leaders of the two communities, scheduled to begin on September 3.

    Asked if this was a bad omen in view of the commencement of direct negotiations, Iacovou said ``we must keep calm.``

    ``I was very calm. I made a statement about the reasons I judged the discussion could not continue,`` he said, adding that he believed he made the right move. ``When they are ready to truly discuss, then we will see what we can do,`` Iacovou pointed out.

    Asked if the opening of the Limnitis crossing point would be discussed by the leaders, Iacovou said he did not rule out that possibility and that he informed the President about the incident immediately.

    Replying to questions, Iacovou said President Christofias commended him on his decision because it is not possible to carry out negotiations in such conditions.

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