NEWS

Turks seek a ‘speedy’ settlement for Cyprus

In light of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington at the end of this month and European Commission President Romano Prodi’s visit to Ankara on January 15, Turkey’s political and military leadership met yesterday under President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and decided to show a willingness to help solve the Cyprus issue. Prodi’s visit to Turkey will be the first by a president of the Commission since Turkey signed an association agreement with the European Economic Community (precursor of the EU) in 1963. In Washington, Erdogan is expected to come under pressure to help solve the Cyprus issue so as to help Turkey’s bid to open accession talks with the EU. «Turkey continues its support for the good offices of the UN secretary-general (Kofi Annan) and confirms its political determination for the speedy achievement of a settlement based on the realities of the island through negotiations,» said a statement by Sezer’s office. It was issued after a meeting of Sezer, Erdogan, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and army chief of staff Hilmi Ozkok. The officials agreed «it will be useful to start initiatives for the revival of peace talks» between the Turkish- and Greek-Cypriot communities once a new government is formed in the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot north following elections last month.» The mention of the «realities» on the island referred to the existence of the breakaway state which Ankara and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash want to see recognized – something which no one else accepts. The new Turkish-Cypriot «government» may be formed this weekend.