15 June, 2007
Turkey appears to be trying to slide out of agreements made for progress on the Cyprus issue, especially the agreement of July 8, 2006, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said in an exclusive interview with the ANA-MPA released on Thursday.
"It is my belief that the Turkish side wants to return to the position that the Annan plan, with a few decorative modifications, must be the basis for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem," Papadopoulos said, adding that this was the main reason why the July 8 agreement had not been implemented so far.
He also categorically denied that his government had relegated a solution to the Cyprus problem to the distant future - stressing that he a solution was urgent but could not be found unilaterally - or that his policies were leading to the permanent division of the island republic.
"I reject that charge as unacceptable because, apart from anything else, everyone knows that the conditions for promoting the separatist goals of the Turkish side did not originate with the Greek side or with me but from the occupation of Turkish forces and the climate cultivated in the past that the Annan plan - which contains divisive provisions - could be acceptable," Papadopoulos stressed.
The Cyprus president blamed the current stalemate over the Cyprus issue on the reluctance of the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot side to engage in substantial talks and the failure to implement the July 8 agreement, which called for setting up technical committees and working teams to carefully prepare the groundwork for talks on a Cyprus solution.
He pointed out that the two sides on the island had reached a "common understanding" regarding the composition and the start of the operation of the working groups envisioned under the July 8 deal in March but that the Turkish side had then abandoned the effort.
According to Papadopoulos, the Turkish-Cypriot side was seeking to extricate itself from the process initiated by UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, which departed from the Annan plan.
"This policy is dictated by Ankara and we know this with certainty," the Cyprus president added.
Asked to comment on Turkey's insistence on arguments that the Turkish-Cypriots were "economically excluded", Papadopoulos said that Ankara was no longer pushing for the recognition of the illegal regime in northern Cyprus as a separate state, since that would automatically exclude it from the European Union and the concomitant benefits, but was now attempting to "upgrade" the status of the illegal regime in a mistaken interpretation of both the letter and spirit of the 2004 EU directive for direct trade with Turkish-Cypriots.
He stressed, also, that the term "direct trade" did not arise in any part of the resolution of April 2004 nor in the later regulation arising from it.
"We have stated to the European Union, and we constantly raise and argue in all countries and forums, that the so-called 'direct trade' does not aim at the economic growth of Turkish-Cypriots nor does it promote the second part of the decision of April 26, which is "to promote the economic integration and reunification of Cyprus. Therefore, every provision of the regulation that does not serve reunification we legitimately and justifiably reject," he said.
Asked whether Cyprus' position was understood by its EU partners and the international community, Papadopoulos claimed that Nicosia's view was increasingly accepted and that more and more EU member-states agreed that Turkey was seeking political rather than economic benefits via the regulation.
Regarding the approach of the new United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the Cyprus issue, Papadopoulos said that the Secretary-General did not appear to have arrived at any firm opinion yet, adding that they were due to meet in September when the Cyprus president went to New York for the UN General Assembly.
Source: Athens News Agency