Nicosia: ‘No’ to five-party talks

The Cypriot government yesterday rejected a proposal by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a «five-way meeting» of talks on uniting the divided island of Cyprus, but reiterated that it is ready to resume negotiations under United Nations’ auspices. Erdogan had called for Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, Mehmet Ali Talat, the head of the government of the Turkish-occupied part of the island, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and, «if necessary,» a representative of the government of the United Kingdom to join him in talks. Greece, Turkey and the UK are the Cypriot state’s guarantor powers. «I do not think there is such a possibility, at present. What we wish for is for the commencement of a procedure within the UN framework,» said Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides. Cyprus has rejected a previous reunification plan by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which both Turkey and Greece had endorsed. At present, Turkey’s concern is to reconcile its obligation to the European Union to extend the customs union it has signed with the 15 older EU members to the 10 new members, Cyprus among them, before it starts accession negotiations on October 3, with its declaration that this does not amount to recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey is the only country that recognizes the government of the occupied part of Cyprus, the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Yasar Yakis, a former Turkish foreign minister and currently head of the Parliamentary Committee on Convergence with the European Union, told reporters in Athens yesterday that Turkey is willing to contribute toward a solution and called for «good will on all sides.» «We should let bygones be bygones. We should learn from the past and not get mired in its negatives,» Yakis said. The Turkish MP had a series of meetings with Greek deputies and Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis.

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