Papadopoulos: A tactic to maintain occupation. Britain: CBMs cannot be a substitute for a settlement
NICOSIA (CNA).- Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed that the proposal of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to reopen the Nicosia International Airport is part of his well-known tactic to maintain the Turkish occupation regime on the island and establish “good neighborly relations.”
In a written statement issued after receiving a letter from Denktash, the president said he has called a National Council meeting for Monday afternoon to examine the Turkish- Cypriot leader’s proposal and prepare a reply.
The statement, which was read aloud to reporters by government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, says that Rauf Denktash has rejected the confidence-building measures discussed in 1993 and 1994, as well as the UN Secretary-General’s solution plan for a comprehensive settlement submitted to both sides in March of this year. The president reiterated the Greek-Cypriot side’s readiness to resume talks on the Cyprus problem, based on UN chief Kofi Annan’s proposal.
“I reiterate our concrete policy, which is almost a unanimous position of the National Council, that we are always ready and willing to resume talks on the basis of the Annan plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem that will lift the division and bring about a reunited Cyprus, in which the whole people, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, will enjoy equally the benefits of peace and prosperity in the context of a single state with a common sovereignty,” the president said.
He adds that “Rauf Denktash, on March 10 at The Hague, withdrew from the bicommunal talks, since he rejected the Annan plan as a basis for negotiations to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.”
“Instead of talks for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, Denktash has since then launched, in full cooperation with Ankara, a new strategy to maintain the occupation regime and establish just ‘good neighborly relations’,” the president noted.
President Papadopoulos said that “the talks Denktash is proposing for the reopening of the Nicosia airport, and possibly other measures, are within the context of this strategy.”
“Indeed, after the lifting of the illegal closure of the airport by occupation troops, Denktash is seeking in return the lifting of what he unfoundedly and one-sidedly calls an ’embargo’ against the Turkish-Cypriots,” the president continued.
President Papadopoulos said, “It is worth reminding that the confidence-building measures discussed in 1993 and 1994 had collapsed due to the insistence of Denktash then to have a separate state entity and sovereignty of the pseudo-state recognized.”
Government spokesman Chrysostomides replied negatively to a question about whether the president’s statement could be considered a rejection of Denktash’s proposal, noting that the National Council would discuss in depth the content of Denktash’s letter before replying. The National Council is the top advisory body to the president on handling the Cyprus problem.
Invited to comment on reports that the Turkish media were quoting Denktash as proposing the return of the closed town of Famagusta under UN control in return for the reopening of the Nicosia airport, Chrysostomides said, “This does not emerge from the letter, but the examining and discussing of the letter will be done at the National Council’s meeting.”
Chrysostomides also mentioned statements by Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul, who said that if the Greek-Cypriot side accepts Denktash’s proposal, then Turkey would open the ports, airports and its airspace to the Greek-Cypriots. The spokesman said this was “Turkey’s obligation,” and thus did not constitute “anything in return.”
According to the Turkish news agency “Anadolu,” in a letter Denktash sent on Friday to the UN Chief, he says the Turkish-Cypriots “are ready to give the closed part of Varosha to Greek-Cypriots under the control of UN in return for the opening of Nicosia International Airport for the common use by both communities.
“If the Greek-Cypriot side accepts [Denktash’s] proposal, Greek-Cypriot ships and planes will be able to use Turkish sea and air ports and Turkish territorial waters and airspace,” Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters in Ankara.
“This will ensure the growth of bilateral trade,” said Gul, adding that he too had sent Annan a letter asking for support.
British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane said confidence-building measures cannot be a substitute for a comprehensive Cyprus settlement on the basis of the UN plan. Replying to questions at the House of Commons, MacShane said the opening of the Nicosia Airport “is an issue for the two sides to discuss within the context of the measures introduced in response to the partial lifting of the restrictions on freedom of movement.”
He also noted that Britain welcomes all efforts to improve relations between the two communities “which have demonstrated that Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots can live together peacefully.”
“However, confidence-building measures cannot be a substitute for a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the UN plan,” he added.
Invited to describe in what respects the Annan plan for a Cyprus settlement is incompatible with the acquis communautaire, MacShane said “the European Commission has stated repeatedly that there is no incompatibility of the UN proposals with the acquis communautaire.”
MacShane added that Commission officials worked in close coordination with the UN team over the drafting of the UN plan.
He said that the EU has affirmed on a number of occasions, most recently at the Thessaloniki European Council meeting, that it will accommodate the terms of a settlement, in line with the principles on which EU is founded.