EU Appreciates Cyprus Good Will

Tue 11th March, 2008

By Jean Christou

THE EU has acknowledged the governments good will to find a settlement, ahead of Friday’s meeting between the leaders of the two communities, Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou said yesterday.

But the Foreign Minister expressed concern over negative statements emerging from the Turkish Cypriot side in the run-up to Friday's meeting.

Speaking after a meeting with European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros in Nicosia, Kyprianou said the current climate towards Cyprus in the EU was very positive.

President Demetris Christofias spent three days in Brussels last week attending the European Council meeting, on the sidelines of which he met numerous EU leaders to brief them on the resumption of Cyprus talks.

Cyprus has been in the EU dog house since the Annan plan was rejected in 2004 and because former President Tassos Papadopoulos made no moves to improve the situation in the aftermath.

But the election of Christofias has changed the dynamic, and Europe’s perception of the Greek Cypriot side. The new President will be meeting Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on Friday amid hopes for a full resumption of talks some time in April.

However, as soon as it became clear talks were about to resume, each side has positioned itself on opposite poles.

Chrisotfias says talks must be based on the July 8, 2006 agreement, while Talat wants the Annan plan as a basis.

He says the July 8 agreement is only a process and that the Annan plan provides the substance of talks. Certainly no one can say we were encouraged right now with the positions taken by Mr Talat or the Turkish government, Kyprianou said.

Kyprianou said the extent to which the Turkish Cypriot side might move from its positions would become apparent on Friday.

The Foreign Minister said that in discussions with his contacts within the EU, officials there also found the Turkish side’s positions not particularly constructive.

He said the actions of the Turkish side, including Ankaras firing off letters to EU leaders about the rejected UN blueprint, did not inspire EU leaders and “does not help in the approach” to the talks.

We will wait for Friday to see if these actions are just tactics or whether there is some substance to them and then see how we will handle it, said Kyprianou.

The two leaders are also expected to announce the opening of the Ledra Street crossing after their meeting on Friday. Christofias expects to meet today with the committee for the opening of Ledra Street, and with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, France, Britain, the US, Russia and China.

The international community, although they have publicly welcomed the new climate, are privately concerned, expressing concern that the statements between the two sides could spoil the party.

They also feel the two sides should not be laying out red lines at this early stage of the game, a move which could corner them into entrenched positions from which they won’t easily be able to back away from if necessary.

Diplomats are also worried about the political situation in Turkey and how it could affect Cyprus when, for the first time in the history of the Cyprus issue, the island has two pro-solution leaders.

On the situation in Turkey, Kyprianou said the world would have to wait and see how the crisis developed.

Of course we are watching with some concern, he said. The Turkish government might not be able to handle the Cyprus problem but this also gives them an alibi to say they can’t move forward.

But Kyprianou added that all such comments were speculation at this point. The Friday meeting would clear up many of the hypotheticals, he said.

Another issue of concern to the Foreign Minister is the recent apparent upgrading of the north at the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Senegal. A final communique at the OIC summit reaffirmed support to the TRNC.

Kyprianou said Turkey had a lot of influence in the OIC. He said the government would step up its contacts with individual OIC member countries to counter any moves towards official recognition of the north.

Because it rests with them to what they will follow or not the resolution, he said.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2008