NEWS

Hague proposal gathers pace

Turkey insisted yesterday that it would not open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and airplanes as Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis suggested that Ankara and Athens should allow the International Court of Justice to rule on their disputes. Picking up on the idea suggested by former president Costis Stephanopoulos in Kathimerini last month that Greece and Turkey should settle their disputes at The Hague, Bakoyannis said that this option could extend to territorial disputes as well. «If Turkey adopts a European attitude in its internal politics, by respecting human rights, and in its foreign policy, by respecting international law, as well as recognizing the International Court at The Hague in respect to questions of sovereignty in the Aegean, then there would be no differences between Greece and Turkey,» Bakoyannis told the French newspaper Le Figaro. The foreign minister has previously expressed interest in Stephanopoulos’s proposal on The Hague, which is a path that Greek diplomats have followed in recent years during talks with their Turkish counterparts. Ankara, however, appears in no mood to compromise over one of the current stumbling blocks between the two countries by agreeing to open its ports and airports. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday that the European Union must first lift trade restrictions on the Turkish Cypriots living in the occupied part of Cyprus before Ankara makes its move. «We expect the EU to abide by promises it made to the Turkish Cypriots,» Gul said, arguing that it was unfair to expect unilateral action from Turkey. However, Gul said that Turkey is willing to join in any UN-led effort to start reunification talks. His comment came on the same day that Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat appeared to confirm that he was ready to hold talks with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos. A spokesman for Talat told Agence France-Presse that the two men would meet on July 8.