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28 March, 2001
"There is no way in which the UN and the international community can recognize the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus as an independent state," British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said on Tuesday, while addressing an event organized by London's Greek-Cypriot community that was also attended by visiting Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
The meeting, which focused on the Cyprus issue in the context of the European Union, was also attended by a large number of Labor MPs from north London constituencies, where the majority of the city's Greek-Cypriot community lives.
During his speech, Cook expressed his own disappointment over the continued division of Cyprus, which has been split in two since a Turkish invasion in 1974 and a subsequent occupation and settlement.
He said it was "tragic" that Cyprus and its capital Nicosia remained divided, fully ten years after Berlin had been reunited, and said that the UK government wanted a "single Cyprus, a united state with a single citizenship, a single security system," and one that offered "the same guarantees of human rights to all citizens with freedom of movement, access to the whole island."
Cook also expressed regret that Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had walked out of UN-sponsored proximity talks to solve the Cyprus problem. The Turkish-Cypriot leader had departed after five rounds of mediated talks, saying he would not return unless his regime in the Turkish-occupied north of the island was recognized.
Cook said Britain was committed to getting the talks restarted and urged Denktash to "face reality".
Cook then referred to the December 2000 abduction of Greek-Cypriot Panicos Tziakourmas by Turkish agents from the sovereign area of a British base on Cyprus, saying that this was "an affront for both Cyprus and Britain."
Papandreou, on his part, underlined the close cooperation between Greece and Britain over EU enlargement and said that Cyprus would be among the next group of countries to join the union.
He said that opinion regarding EU membership was shifting among the Turkish-Cypriot community, whom he described as "hostages of past history."
According to Papandreou, Denktash has two choices: to make history by working toward a just solution on the divided island or have history pass him by.
Source: Athens News Agency