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Media Watch 2004

30 January 2004
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Alex Efthyvoulos
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 30 January 2004.
Turkey has key role in search for a settlement says CoE


THE Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called on both sides in Cyprus to resume negotiations in good faith and without delay, on the basis of the Annan plan, in order to reach a settlement before May 1 so that a united Cyprus may join the EU.

It warned that if no settlement is reached by May 1 and Cyprus joins the EU divided, "the Assembly fears that this may result in a hardening of the two communities leaders' positions and perpetuate the current deadlock."

A resolution, adopted unanimously by PACE on Wednesday, also called on Greece and Turkey to contribute to the resumption of the negotiations, and on Europe to encourage Turkey's involvement by giving Ankara clearer guarantees for the opening of accession negotiations.

It also urged UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resume his efforts as soon as possible and "to pay special attention to security issues on the island, which are the main source of mutual mistrust, and to embark on negotiations with the flexibility required for the purpose."

Last divided capital

In a general introduction on the situation in Cyprus, the resolution pointed out that Nicosia "is the last and only capital city in Europe which is divided, not only politically but also by military forces."

It then said that "the Assembly particularly deplores" the collapse of the negotiations in March last year "when Mr Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader rejected the (Annan) plan," while President Papadopoulos "appeared to willing to sign it."

The Assembly stressed that Turkey had a key role to play in a settlement. In a clear reference to the recent change of approach by the Turkish side in connection with the Annan plan, it said "the Assembly welcomes the Turkish government's more open-minded and pragmatic approach to the Cyprus problem and invites it to exert all its influence" in support of the efforts by Annan to achieve a settlement.

Without referring to Denktash by name, the resolution said, "some Turkish Cypriot leaders still use their feelings of mistrust to justify their uncompromising position."

No grounds for mistrust

"Recalling that one of the greatest achievements of the European Union has been its ability to resolve centuries'-long conflicts among nations and ethnic groups, the Assembly believes that these feelings have no ground.''

In this regard the resolution went on the criticise the Greek Cypriot side arguing that the "existence of such fears...is a clear indication that Greek Cypriot authorities must do more to rebuild confidence between the two communities. Certain attitudes and statements on the part of the Greek Cypriot authorities would unfortunately seem to have substantiated these feelings."

The resolution then proceeded to make specific demands on each of the four sides - the Cyprus government, the Turkish Cypriots, Greece and Turkey.

On Cyprus:
- Cyprus must "continue confirming" its willingness to resume negotiations and "during these negotiations to show understanding of and good will to address the Turkish Cypriots' concerns, including those relating to the resettlement of population, the use of property and the viability of the solution to be reached, as well as a perceived political and economic dominance of the Greek Cypriots;

- it asks the Greek Cypriots to refrain from any attitudes, acts or statements that might be interpreted as designed to assert the dominant position of the Greek Cypriot community or might be perceived as a threat by the Turkish Cypriot community, or might revive and fuel mistrust and suspicion of the Turkish Cypriot community and Turkey.''

It calls on the Turkish Cypriot authorities:
- to accept the Annan plan as a basis for negotiations and "to refrain from pursuing the policy of establishing a separate sovereign 'state' in Cyprus;''

- to show understanding of, and good will to address the Greek Cypriots' concerns including those relating to the resettlement of population, the use of property and the viability of the solution to be reached;

- to abstain from exploiting fears originating from the near or remote past in order to revive and fuel mistrust and suspicion of the Greek Cypriot community and Greece;

- to respect human rights, including rights to property and its peaceful enjoyment, and fundamental freedoms of the lawful Cypriot citizens throughout the territory of Cyprus, and in particular of the displaced and enclaved Greek Cypriots


Establish fate of missing

- to cooperate in the efforts for establishing the fate of the missing persons and to respond positively to the latest appeal of the Secretary General for the reactivation of the Committee on Missing Persons

On Turkey:
- it calls on Turkey to use its influence to assist the resumption and smooth conduct of the negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan;

- to assist in restoring confidence by withdrawing "a considerable number'' of its troops from the north and to develop normal relations with the government of Cyprus.

- to cooperate effectively in the efforts to ascertain the fate of the missing persons in Cyprus and to fully implement the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Cyprus v Turkey (2001) pertaining to the tragic problem of the missing persons and their families and abide by and fulfil, without any further delay, its obligations and duties stemming from the aforementioned judgement.

In this respect, the resolution makes no demand on Turkey to respect and implement the other judgements of the Human Rights Court that affirm the right of the Greek Cypriot refugees to return and to repossess their properties in the north.
On Greece:
- the Assembly calls on Greece to contribute to the resumption of negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan.

On the European Union:
- it calls on the EU encourage Turkey's involvement in the search for a settlement by giving Ankara clearer guarantees for the opening of accession negotiations.

In a special reference to the efforts of Kofi Annan, the PACE resolution "encourages'" him "to resume his efforts as soon as an opportunity arises and urges him to pay special attention to security issues on the island, which are the main source of mutual mistrust, and to embark on negotiations with the flexibility required for the purpose.""