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Media Watch 2007

27 April 2007
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Menelaos Hadjicostis
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 27 April 2007.
GC and TC parties agree to push for troop-free Nicosia
Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot party chiefs have codified their wish for an army-free Nicosia in an accord to push for a mutual troop draw-down inside the capital.

"Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot party chiefs have codified their wish for an army-free Nicosia in an accord to push for a mutual troop draw-down inside the capital.

"The leaders and representatives of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties...agreed to promote the issue of disengagement, which both sides have requested from time to time, through the positions they expressed," said meeting hosts the Slovak Embassy in a joint communiqué.

"They also support the need for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem and the demilitarisation of the whole island."

Greek Cypriot party officials hailed the agreement as progress in light of vacillating Turkish Cypriot support for a troop pull-back from within Nicosia.

This week's UN survey found that 54% of Turkish Cypriot respondents favoured a withdrawal as opposed to 78% of Greek Cypriots.

Akel Parliamentary Spokesman Nicos Katsourides suggested that vacillation has now been supplanted by a commitment to demilitarization on at least a party level.

"It was a step forward...I don't agree with anyone underestimating (the agreement) because if we presume that demilitarization is the given wish of all Turkish Cypriots, then I think we're making a big mistake," Akel Parliamentary Spokesman Nicos Katsourides told reporters.

Katsourides said also significant was that the agreement wasn't the product of a trade-off as all parties unconditionally committed to disengagement.

The Akel official said the agreement offered proof that meetings bringing together party representatives from both sides of the divide do bear fruit.

"Surely they help since these kind of steps are taken...For example, disengagement wasn't everyone's common position.

"As of today, it's the common position of all parties...All those ho reject these contacts and an exchange of vies, in reality reject a Cyprus settlement."

Greek Cypriot parties signing off on the agreement included Adik, Akel, the Greens, Diko, Disy, Edek, United Democrats and Epalxi.

On the Turkish Cypriot side were the Communal Liberation Party, the New Cyprus Party, Peace and Democracy Movement, Republican Turkish Party, United Cyprus Party and the Socialist Party of Cyprus.
Brokering the accord was Slovak Embassador Jan Varso. Also attending was UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller.

Nicosia has maintained that the presence of Turkish occupation troops at Ledra Street hampers the opening of checkpoint there because it doesn't "impart a sense of security among pedestrians".
That's more a euphemism for underscoring that Turkish army authority reigns supreme in the occupied north.

The government has proposed a mutual withdrawal from the Green Line.

There has been no progress in UN-mediated talks to open Ledra Street, despite recent reports of a tentative deal on a mutual, 100-metre troop pull-back from the spot."