By Emilia Christofi (CNA)
SAINT PETERSBURG.- Cyprus will contribute to the effort to enhance relations between the European Union and Russia in its capacity as an acceding country and later a full EU member, President Tassos Papadopoulos said here Saturday, in his address to the EU-Russia Summit, which opened this morning in St. Petersburg. He referred to the excellent relations between Russia and Cyprus and said that EU enlargement offers an opportunity and a commitment to maximize mutual benefits for both Russia and the EU. The Cyprus problem is among the topics to be examined by the summit during discussions on international issues.
In his speech, President Papadopoulos thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invitation to attend the summit, taking place on the occasion of the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg.
“Holding the summit in this magnificent city at this time is indeed full of symbolism, since St. Petersburg has always been regarded as the gate of Russia to Europe,” the president said, adding that Russia “does reflect the quality of our relations and our determination to further strengthen, enhance and promote our cooperation.”
Referring to Cyprus’ relations with Russia, President Papadopoulos said, “Cyprus has traditionally maintained excellent relations with Russia. Thus, as an acceding country and later as a full member state of the EU, we will contribute toward the deepening of the Union’s relations with Russia,” Papadopoulos pledged.
“The enlargement of the Union should be grasped as an opportunity and as a commitment for maximizing mutual benefits for both sides,” he stressed.
“For our part,” he added, “as a new member state of the Union, we also look forward to the extension of the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement to Cyprus, a step that would further enrich and put our relations on a new track.”
“Our common aim is the establishment of a European space of democracy, peace, stability, internal and external security and prosperity for our citizens. This aim cannot be achieved without the close cooperation of the two major players in Europe, the Union and Russia,” the president concluded.
ON DENKTASH’s TACTICS
President Tassos Papadopoulos has dismissed as legally and practically invalid tactics by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to bypass the European Court of Human Rights and do away with the Court’s legal framework. The President said that Denktash’s and Ankara’s policy on a political settlement in Cyprus is to create two separate states which will enjoy good neighborly relations and see that they sort out property disputes.
“The issue of property is one of the serious questions we have to deal with, but there are also other important aspects of the problem, including the return of the refugees to their homes, implementation of human rights and the establishment of a functional state,” the President said on Sunday, on arrival from Saint Petersburg.
The President’s comments came in response to statements by Denktash who said that Greek Cypriots should not cherish any thoughts of returning to their properties in Turkish occupied Cyprus and that bizonality on the island should be strictly observed.
On Denktash’s proposition to set up so-called courts in occupied Cyprus to be used as domestic remedies in property disputes, Papadopoulos said what the Turkish Cypriot leader is trying to do is to establish bodies that will decide on damages in property disputes to prevent Greek Cypriots claiming their property through the European Court.
“We have looked into this matter and have sought expert legal advice. The overriding opinion is that this kind of manoeuvres by Denktash has neither legal nor practical application,” the President pointed out.
The European Court has ruled in a case of Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou that Denktash’s regime in occupied Cyprus is a subordinate local administration to Turkey and that Ankara by virtue of its military presence in northern Cyprus exercises effective control there.
“Any body Denktash sets up is subordinate to Turkey, it cannot have any validity,” he said.
Replying to questions, he said that the right to property differs from the right to damages.