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Media Watch 2003

27 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 27 May 2003
Simitis: no point in talks until Turkish attitude changes


GREEK Prime Minister Costas Simitis warned yesterday that the Turkish side’s aim in opening up the Green Line was to undermine the Annan plan and obtain recognition for its breakaway regime.

He also said the Greek Cypriot side should not seek the resumption of talks until there was a clear indication that the Turkish Cypriot side would accept the plan it rejected in The Hague in March.

“It is our common assessment that the moves Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side have made in the recent past relating to the easing of restrictions on the freedom of movement to and from the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus do not aim at a solution,” Simitis said at joint news conference with President Tassos Papadopoulos in Athens.

“These moves were made to create an impression and to reduce the pressure the international community is exerting on Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for a solution and to seek recognition of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus. These moves also aim at removing the problem of Cyprus from the UN framework and gradually taking the issue away from the international arena.”

Simitis was speaking after three hours of talks with Papadopoulos, which focused on ways to handle common issues and on future moves in the Cyprus problem, and the island’s accession to the EU next year, which he said could act as a catalyst for a solution.

“We seek the resumption of the talks within the UN framework on the basis of the Annan plan and Security Council resolution 1475. We want a just, viable and functional solution, that is compatible with the acquis communautaire and EU principles,” Simitis said. “We want a European solution within the UN framework.”

The Greek Prime Minster said that it would be wrong for the Greek Cypriot side to undertake an initiative for the resumption of talks.

“If we resume talks without changing the basic feature of the current situation, the effort to have the Turkish Cypriot regime recognised, then we would be led to undermining the UN process,” he said. “Negotiations should begin when we feel confident that there is a possibility for a positive development, we do not want to be faced with another deadlock” in the peace effort.”

He also warned that Ankara should start changing its policies on Cyprus in advance of the EU summit in December 2004, when Turkey comes up for review as a possible candidate.

“Turkey should give proof of good will long before the EU summit in December 2004 if it wants to begin membership talks, not on the eve of the summit,” Simitis said.

At a news conference in the north yesterday, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who has declared the Annan plan ‘dead’, again called for recognition of his breakaway state.

“There is no need for this plan for the establishment of a new partnership between the two states. There has to be an acknowledgement of the realities regarding the Turkish Cypriots in the north,” Denktash said.

Criticising UN Cyprus envoy Alvaro de Soto, who blamed the Turkish Cypriot side for the failure of The Hague talks, Denktash said the Peruvian diplomat had ignored the realities, did not research the causes of the Cyprus problem, and accepted the Greek Cypriot government’s position to control the whole island.

Denktash also accused De Soto of seeing the problem through Greek Cypriot eyes. “By doing so, he and his team have failed, and lost their credibility,” he said. "