British FM backs pact ‘by Cypriots’

Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday expressed his support for a Cyprus settlement in the form of «a bizonal, bicommunal joint entity» following talks with his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis in Athens. Questioned by a reporter about Britain’s stance on the latest round of talks between community leaders on Cyprus, aimed at ending the island’s longstanding division, Miliband noted that his country would play «only a supportive role,» stressing the importance of a solution to the Cyprus problem «by Cypriots and for Cypriots.» Asked if Britain intends to withdraw from a guarantors’ treaty signed in 1960 now that Cyprus is a European Union member state and there is no longer a security issue, and whether it will relinquish the areas currently occupied by the British bases on the island, Miliband noted that the «details» of the treaty could be discussed later and that the focus should be the progress of the talks toward a solution. Bakoyannis put the onus on Ankara for progress in talks, saying that «a more constructive stance» was needed from the Turks if the process was to move forward. Her comments came in the wake of fears expressed last week by Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias that Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was being undermined by Turkish military authorities. The British diplomat, who also met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis before traveling on to Ankara, reiterated Britain’s desire to bring Turkey into the European Union and said there was no reason to postpone a scheduled review of Turkey’s EU-oriented progress in December. Bakoyannis conceded Turkey’s accession course was at «a critical turning point» but stressed that there are specific conditions Ankara still needs to meet before it can join the EU.