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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 04-02-20

Cyprus Press and Information Office: News Updates in English Directory - Previous Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

  • [01]Friday, 20 February 2004 UN-led direct peace talks get underway
  • [02] Foreign Minister: T/C leader's proposals outside Annan plan parameters
  • [03] Australian FM encourages Cyprus leaders to work towards settlement
  • [04] New Cyprus Ambassador to Germany presents letters of credence

    [01] UN-led direct peace talks get underway

    UN-sponsored direct negotiations for a settlement of the Cyprus problem between the President of the Republic and Greek Cypriot leader Mr Tassos Papadopoulos and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Rauf Denktash resumed yesterday at the Nicosia Conference centre in the UN protected area, in the presence of the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Mr Alvaro de Soto. Speaking to reporters after yesterday's talks, Mr de Soto described the meeting as "very constructive", adding that the two sides had shown "ample good will and [a] business-like spirit". He noted that both leaders had agreed to meet on a daily basis at 9:30 a.m., leaving afternoons free "for internal consultations". President Papadopoulos noted, in statements after the meeting, that "we are going to the talks on the one hand with political will to find a solution that will comply with the acquis communautaire and on the other hand with determination to defend what we consider to be the inalienable rights of Cypriot Hellenism". Asked if he was pleased with the meeting, the President said it was too soon to say but noted that it had been a useful meeting. Mr Papadopoulos also said that most of the issues raised by the Turkish Cypriot side during yesterday's talks were outside the framework of the Annan plan and raised the core issues of the plan. Invited to say whether he was optimistic about the talks, he replied that he could not answer that question because "one issue may not be resolved and ruin all the rest", adding, "It is too early; we have not dealt with the substance of the issues". In other statements, President Papadopoulos condemned the bomb attack against the residence of the Republican Turkish Party leader and so-called prime minister of the occupation regime in the north, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, which had occurred just hours before the resumption of the UN-led direct talks yesterday. "All bomb attacks and all actions of violence are condemnable, irrespective of the reason for which they are made and the person against whom they are directed", Mr Papadopoulos said. Furthermore, EU Enlargement Commissioner Mr Gunter Verheugen was on the island yesterday and met the two leaders after their joint meeting. Mr Verheugen told reporters that the reason he was there was "first of all to say that the European Union wants to demonstrate its strong will and its preparedness to support and facilitate the efforts of the UN". "Second is to discuss with the UN and the two leaders the involvement of the EU in the process because we have now a situation where not only the settlement of the conflict is at stake but also the preparation for membership in the EU", he added. Noting that only 70 days remained between now and the accession of Cyprus to the EU, Commissioner Verheugen reiterated the Union's preference for the accession of a reunited island. "What we have to discuss is how to help the Turkish Cypriot community start a catch up process and of course to organise a mechanism which can guarantee that the elements of a settlement that will be found eventually under the leadership of Mr de Soto are compatible with the conditions and requirements of the EU", Mr Verheugen pointed out. He then repeated that the European Union was ready to accommodate a settlement "provided that it does not violate the basic principles on which the EU is founded". The European Commissioner pledged that the EU "will continue to be as helpful and constructive as possible and we will provide everything that is needed to help the UN make the process a success". He concluded by expressing optimism that the EU could facilitate the peace process, and said he had encouraged the two leaders to use the opportunity for a settlement because the membership of a united Cyprus to the Union would be in the best interest of both communities. Last week, after intensive consultations in New York, the two leaders agreed to continue direct negotiations until 22 March 2004 on the basis of the UN Secretary-General's plan. If an agreement on modifications to the plan can be reached, then the entire proposal will be submitted to separate simultaneous referenda in April for approval by the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    [02] Foreign Minister: T/C leader's proposals outside Annan plan parameters

    The Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr George Iacovou departed for Brussels yesterday afternoon where he will participate in various European Union meetings. In a statement to the press before his departure, Mr Iacovou said that in Brussels he would participate in a meeting to determine the external affairs policy of the EU, while on Monday he and his Greek counterpart Tassos Yiannitsis would brief the General Affairs Council on the latest developments of the Cyprus problem. Mr Iacovou said that he would also meet with the French Foreign Minister as well as with the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Mr Javier Solana. Replying to questions on the resumption of the UN- led peace talks, Mr Iacovou said yesterday's meeting dealt with many procedural issues. Invited to comment on information that the Turkish Cypriot leader insisted on changes which were considered to be outside the framework of the Annan Plan, Mr Iacovou said it was a fact that the proposals, which Mr Denktash submitted to Mr. Annan, were outside the philosophy and the parameters set by the UN Secretary General, adding that "it depends on Mr De Soto to tell Mr Denktash that his approach is outside the framework of the Annan Plan and that consequently, such proposals will not be discussed". "In the event these issues are discussed then, as we have also stated, we will raise issues which we consider fundamental and which we did not intend to raise at this stage," he added. Asked to name the issues the Turkish Cypriot leader had raised, Mr Iacovou explained that they concerned issues of terminology, the issue of "by- national state", while the approved term was "bizonal, by-communal state". He said that Mr Denktash used terms such as "enhanced bizonality", meaning that he did not want Greek Cypriots in the Turkish Cypriot component state, i.e. the number of Greek Cypriots who would return to their homes in the Turkish Cypriot component state, as provided for in the Annan Plan. Mr Denktash also raised the issue of the reduction of the number of Greek Cypriots who would return under Greek Cypriot administration and perhaps a change on the territorial aspect of the Annan proposals, he added. The Foreign Minister stressed that these were fundamental parameters of the Annan Plan, and if Mr Denktash insisted, the territorial issue would also be discussed, as well as the issue of the number of refugees who would return to the homes under Turkish Cypriot administration. Mr Iacovou made it clear however that issues which dealt with fundamental interpretations and had been discussed for many years, such as "bizonal, bicommunal state" and Mr Denktash's pursuit for the component states to have their own sovereignty to the disadvantage of the sovereignty of the common federal state, could not be discussed.

    [03] Australian FM encourages Cyprus leaders to work towards settlement

    Australia's Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, welcomed yesterday the commitment by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to negotiate for a settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the UN Secretary- General's peace plan, and urged the leaders to work for a solution by 1 May 2004. Mr Downer's statement on Cyprus is as follows: "I welcome the commitment by Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to negotiate a settlement to the Cyprus dispute on the basis of the Settlement Plan put forward by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last year. The first round of negotiations is due to begin in Cyprus on 19 February. Australia's Special Envoy to Cyprus, Jim Short, will shortly begin a round of international consultations to support the UN Secretary-General's efforts to secure a solution to the Cyprus dispute. I am greatly heartened by the fact that, in agreeing to this week's negotiations, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot Leaders have accepted the core tenets set out in the Settlement Plan. The plan provides for a federal structure in Cyprus that acknowledges the identity and integrity of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. It calls for respect for democratic principles, individual rights and human freedoms as well as respect for each community's cultural, religious, political, social and linguistic identity. I am also pleased that the leaders have agreed to hold simultaneous refendums among their respective communities on the finalised plan. I encourage the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to work towards a solution before Cyprus accedes to the European Union on 1 May 2004."

    [04] New Cyprus Ambassador to Germany presents letters of credence

    Mr Leonidas Markides presented on Wednesday 18 February, during an official ceremony at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, his credentials to the President of the Federal Republic of Germany Dr Johannes Rau, as the new Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to Germany. At the end of the ceremony, Ambassador Markides and Dr Rau exchanged views on the Cyprus problem and the efforts for finding a solution, Cyprus' accession to the EU as a full member, and on issues relating to the two countries' bilateral relations. Ambassador Markides thanked the German President for his country's firm stance on the Cyprus problem and expressed the hope that the excellent relations of friendship and cooperation that already existed between the two countries would be further enhanced. The new Ambassador also assured Dr Rau of Cyprus' firm adherence to finding a just, viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem, so that a reunited and peaceful Cyprus would accede to the European family, where all people would be able to live in peace and in freedom. For his part, President Rau assured the Cyprus Ambassador that the German Government would continue to demonstrate an active interest in Cyprus and in the developments underway and said it would continue to support the efforts for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem. President Rau reconfirmed Germany's support of the UN Secretary- General's mission of good offices and expressed the hope for the accession of a united Cyprus to the European family. "In Germany, we were once divided, under different circumstances, however, we are in a position to perceive the difficulties that a divided country encounters and therefore you will always find us to be supporters of your efforts", President Rau concluded.

    From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/


    Cyprus Press and Information Office: News Updates in English Directory - Previous Article
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