2009 must be year of Cyprus settlement: EU's Rehn

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said all parties should work to create a "win-win situation" for the two communities.

2009 must be year of Cyprus settlement: EU's Rehn

2009 must be the year of a comprehensive settlement for the divided island of Cyprus, the European Union's enlargement chief said in an interview, urging all parties, and in particular Turkey, to step up efforts.

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said all parties should work to create a "win-win situation" for the two communities.

"We are not in the business of pressure. We are in the business of facilitation," he told Reuters.

"It's important for everybody, but Turkey is one of the key stakeholders ... they have supported the process, yes, but it is important that we all intensify our political support for a Cyprus settlement."

"I hope that next year will be the year of Cyprus and its comprehensive settlement," Rehn said.

"We need...to reunify the island so that Cyprus could be like a normal EU member state, in peace, united," he said.

Greek Cypriots represent the island in the European Union, which they joined in 2004 and of which Turkey also wants to a member.

"There is a major responsibility that falls on the EU in this respect and that is that the Greek Cypriots, which are members of the EU, they must be encouraged for a settlement," Turkey's foreign minister Ali Babacan said in Brussels.

"Otherwise, leaving the two leaders on their own and just waiting for them to continue to meet and meet without a calendar, and to wait until they agree, such an approach would bring about another situation where we will not get a settlement solution," Babacan said.

"Next year will be a crucial window of opportunity for that, that's why we will certainly invest all resources, all mental and personal resources that are needed to bring that support," he said.

Rehn said that it was important that the talks continue to be driven by the leaders of the two parts of the island, but that the EU was ready to bring as much legal and technical support as required by the two parties or the United Nations.

"It is a matter of paramount importance for the EU to see a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus," Rehn said.

Turkey, for its part, has called for an easing of tough international sanctions against northern Cyprus.

EU-candidate Turkey and Turkish Cypriots have in the last couple of weeks called for the bloc to press Greek Cypriots to speed up reunification talks.

"There is a major responsibility that falls on the EU in this respect and that is that the Greek Cypriots, which are members of the EU, they must be encouraged for a settlement," Turkey's foreign minister Ali Babacan said in Brussels.

"Otherwise, leaving the two leaders on their own and just waiting for them to continue to meet and meet without a calendar, and to wait until they agree, such an approach would bring about another situation where we will not get a settlement solution," Babacan said.

History of the Cyprus issue

Cyprus joined the EU as a divided island when Greek Cypriots in the South rejected the UN reunification plan in twin referendums in 2004 even though the Turkish Cypriots in the north overwhelmingly supported it. The promise made by EU foreign ministers before the referendums to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and establish direct trade with North Cyprus remains unfulfilled.

Gaining independence from the UK in 1960, Cyprus became a bi-communal Republic where Greek and Turkish Cypriot constituent communities would share power guaranteed by the UK, Turkey and Greece. However, reluctant to share power and pursuing a policy of Enosis (Union) with Greece, Greek Cypriots soon expelled Turkish Cypriots from power and terrorised and ghettoised them.

Decades long armed attacks on the defenseless Turkish Cypriots culminated in 1974 when an Athens-backed Greek Cypriot military coup on the island led to Turkey's military intervention. Although the Republic of Cyprus as described in the 1959 agreements is no longer there, Greek Cypriots continue to enjoy this title and international recognition while the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a fully democratic government representing Turkish Cypriots, still suffers under an unfair political and economic blockade.

Agencies

Last Mod: 21 Aralık 2008, 17:34
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Sotiris Tsangaris
Sotiris Tsangaris - 10 yıl Before

With due respect to the Commissioner Olli Rehn and other EU Leaders


As a Greek Cypriot refugee from the Kerynia district now in Australia I hope my view is shared by both Greek and the Turkish Cypriot communities.
I’m very annoyed when Political leaders and media columnists duel and waste valuable time on who was responsible for this or that, 35 years ago. Both sides have made stupid mistakes they rather forget.
I urge the European leaders to review the Cyprus problem today and make sure we do not make the same mistakes of the 1960 constitution for Cyprus independence.
I do not have a problem if the Turkish zone Kerynia is governed by Cypriot Turks, provided they respect the EU common law.
I do not agree with total power sharing of the Republic of Cyprus by Cypriot Turks, that could lead to Ethnic and political instability.
Without prejudice, I can not see another Democratic Country being governed by a minority why should it be different for Cyprus.
Property ownership is the most important issue for the Cypriots both Greek and Turkish, because it affects almost all the peoples of Cyprus.
All property must be returned to the rightful owners both the North and the South of Cyprus.
Only then can the people let go of the past and move on.
Cyprus should become a model for peace and harmony.

22/12/2008

Sotiris