Denktash’s fears ‘groundless’

The government actively supports the process for resolving the Cyprus problem on the basis of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal, which does not accord in some respects with the acquis communautaire. How compatible is this particular approach with Athens’s EU presidency? It is not the Greek presidency’s task to resolve the political problem, which should remain an international problem in the province of the UN. But now we have a new element in the negotiations, the EU accession of all Cyprus. The EU itself does not participate in the negotiations but is an institutional reference point and guarantees the solution’s compatibility with the acquis communautaire. This development strengthens the negotiating hand of the Greek Cypriots, but it also ensures the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the federation, thus refuting all Rauf Denktash’s arguments. We still support the Annan proposal as a basis for negotiations, and with the Greek Cypriots we have noted those elements in the plan which must be improved during further negotiations. Any decision must ensure the rights and stress the obligations of every Cypriot as a citizen of Europe. Do you share the view of leading EU officials that, if the Cyprus issue is not resolved by February 28, then the island’s political problem is unlikely to be settled? Before and after Copenhagen, we expressed our ongoing desire for a solution to the political problem by February 28 on the basis of the revised Annan proposal. Last week, negotiations began again. First impressions are not very encouraging, and the way Denktash negotiates does not allow much leeway for ending the talks and resolving the political problem by the above date. But the Greek Cypriots want a solution. So do we; not just any solution, but a workable, viable solution in accord with UN resolutions and the acquis communautaire. The Turkish Cypriots now seek and hope for a solution that will guarantee them the rights and obligations of European citizens. The fears Denktash is cultivating are untimely and groundless.

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