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Media Watch 2005

02 March 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Myria Antoniadou
Comment: The following editorial appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 2 March 2005.
Tassos stands firm against Famagusta proposal

PRESIDENT Papadopoulos has ruled out the possibility of Cyprus accepting direct trade between the EU countries and the northern areas of the Republic.

Speaking in Brussels yesterday, the Cypriot President said exporting from the Famagusta port in the occupied north would be illegal according to the European Court of Justice ruling in the so-called “Anastasiou case”.

He was commenting on reports that EU technocrats are trying to clinch a deal with Nicosia to get approval of the Commission’s regulation on direct trade with the north.

European sources told the Mail that the Commission is proposing a change to the legal basis of the regulation so that the decision is taken by unanimity and not qualified majority voting as suggested today. However, it wants a prior commitment from the Cypriot government that it will approve the regulation.

Papadopoulos said his government’s position is known. It does not only disagree with the legal basis of the regulation, but also its essence.

“It is clear there cannot be any exporting from illegal ports because of the Court ruling, which cannot be side-stepped,” he said. He clarified that only the Republic can decide that a port is legal.

Therefore, the President said, even if the regulation was approved by a Council it will not annul the Court decision and neither can the Commission find ways of overcoming this ruling.
The direct trade regulation along with a regulation stipulating for economic aid worth 259 million euros were proposed by the Commission last year to help Turkish Cypriots economically and bring them out of their isolation.

However, they have been stalled due to differences over the direct trade. At the same time, the Turkish Cypriots are refusing the financial aid despite the fact that agreement has been reached on this regulation by EU ambassadors.

Sources expressed surprised with the new Commission proposal and wondered what it aims at as in fact the government would be giving the go-ahead to direct trade.

The Cyprus government and Greek Cypriot political parties are not accepting direct trade as it would constitute de fact recognition of the regime in the north.

Referring to his meeting with the Commission President on Monday night, Papadopolos said he elaborated on his government’s goodwill gestures towards the Turkish Cypriots, aiming at creating trust.

Barosso himself had pressed on the point. In statements after the meeting with Papadopoulos he underlined that if there is no trust and a good climate between the two communities and a will to live together, no outsider can help towards a settlement.

President Papadopoulos also informed the Commission President about the government’s proposal for the opening of the Famagusta port under a company or some kind of not-for-profit organisation in which both Greek and Turkish Cypriots would participate. He said this could be done only with the simultaneous opening of the fenced region of Famagusta.

The Cypriot President came to Brussels from Luxembourg and yesterday met with Commissioners Kyprianou, Demas (environment) and Wallstrom (communication). He leaves tomorrow, after speaking at a conference on Federalism organised by the Belgian government."