Turkey ‘has right’ to say no on Cyprus

Neither Turkey nor the Turkish-Cypriot leadership will be pressured into accepting a solution on Cyprus by the European Union, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said on Saturday, during a visit to Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. The EU has pledged to admit the island as a new member within the new wave of accession even if it stays divided. «Nobody should act under the belief that Turkey or [occupied northern Cyprus] is obliged to or is responsible for accepting a solution no matter what the cost,» Cem said. «Turkey and [the occupied north]… have the right to say no.» Turkey is the only country in the world to recognize the Turkish-held part of Cyprus as an independent state, providing unwavering support for the Turkish-Cypriot leadership. Arriving in the north on Friday, Cem expressed his backing for Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s insistence on the north being recognized as a legal state on the same footing as the Republic of Cyprus. For months, Denktash has been involved in United Nations-sponsored face-to-face talks with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides on a peace settlement, but the two seem no closer to an agreement than ever. The very fact that Denktash agreed to direct talks – as opposed to the previous formula of separate meetings in the same city with UN officials – was regarded as a significant concession secured after Ankara brought pressure to bear on the Turkish-Cypriot leader. Cem, whose highly-publicized friendship with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou that produced bilateral agreements on low-policy matters has elicited no softening on Ankara’s Cyprus policy, said he could make no particularly optimistic forecasts on the course of the talks – which the UN would like to see producing an agreement this month. Meanwhile, reports yesterday said that Britain would not recognize the new, 12-mile territorial waters limit promulgated by Denktash last week. The Athens News Agency quoted a Foreign Office spokesman as saying London only recognizes the limits (also 12 miles) set by the Republic of Cyprus in 1964.