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Media Watch 2004

21 May 2004
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Angelos Marcopoulos
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 24 May 2004.
Refugees' right to return stressed in Strasbourg
"As a matter of general principle every person who has been deprived of his personal property and forced to become a refugee has the human right to return and to recover his/her property. Nothing can annul this right because it also has to do with the roots, the dignity and the identity of a person,'' Chenard said... In a clear reference to the Annan Plan, Giovanni di Stasi of Italy, the newly elected CLRAE president, said: "I do not believe in formulas prepared elsewhere but in formulas prepared with the people concerned. Nobody can impose a settlement of the Cyprus problem by a strategy elaborated elsewhere, in Strasbourg, in Brussels or in New York."

THE Cyprus problem gained prominence here this week, following arguments over the legality of the independent participation of Turkish Cypriots in the meetings of the Pan-European Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE) of the Council of Europe.

CLRAE agreed to allow Turkish Cypriot participation, provided this was integrated in the Cyprus delegation, a move rejected by the Turkish side which insisted on separate recognition.

The issue inevitably attracted attention and reminded delegates of the long-festering issue of the war-divided island.

Alain Chenard, of France, a former CLRAE president, summed up the situation in Cyprus by stressing that a settlement must be based on respect for human rights and the refugees' right to return.

"As a matter of general principle every person who has been deprived of his personal property and forced to become a refugee has the human right to return and to recover his/her property. Nothing can annul this right because it also has to do with the roots, the dignity and the identity of a person,'' Chenard said.

No outside formulas
In a clear reference to the Annan Plan, Giovanni di Stasi of Italy, the newly elected CLRAE president, said: "I do not believe in formulas prepared elsewhere but in formulas prepared with the people concerned. Nobody can impose a settlement of the Cyprus problem by a strategy elaborated elsewhere, in Strasbourg, in Brussels or in New York."

The CLRAE "has a duty to be in Cyprus and to arrange a sort of conference with elected representatives (of cities) from all over the island,'' Di Stasi proposed.

Di Stasi also denounced the continuing imposed division of Cyprus.

"Europe cannot accept this dividing line, this 'wall' of Cyprus. There is no place for it," he said

"It is very important to have the island united. Our goal is to have the whole island of Cyprus within the EU and this is important because it will be a step towards the integration of Turkey into the EU, as well."

He added that the Council of Europe will put the reunification of Cyprus "at the top of our priorities and we will work hard in this direction."

Free movement
The insistence of the Turkish occupation authorities to demand the production of ID cards by Greek Cypriots wishing to cross to the occupied north was criticised by CLRAE's Director Ulrich Bohner.

"In general, CLRAE has asked for dropping the use of passports and ID cards and implementing simply free movement and exchanges, even between different countries. This should apply even more inside one and the same country, like Cyprus, and even one and the same town, like Nicosia,'' Bohner said.

Turkey was further criticised by Walter Schwimmer, the CoE Secretary-General, following the recent decision to transform the Archangel Michael Church in Kyrenia into a museum.

"As a matter of general principle, cultural heritage should not be confined to a museum but should be a living heritage,'' he said."