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Cypriot president sees 8 July agreement starting point of any solution effort 24 mars 2008

Posted by Acturca in South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie.
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BBC Monitoring European, March 19, 2008

Text of report in English by Greek Cypriot news agency CNA

Cyprus President Demetris Christofias [Dhimitris Khristofias] has expressed satisfaction that a meeting between the leaders of the island’s two communities will take place on Friday 21 March], so soon after his election to the presidency in February this year.

He also stressed that he will attend the meeting with goodwill and said he is ready for hard work.

In his opening statement at a press conference at the Presidential Palace, President Christofias said the meeting of March 21 will be of an exploratory nature, during which each community will state its fundamental positions and intentions with regard to the solution of the Cyprus problem.

« We do not want to have delays. We do not have the time. At the same time, we believe that it is not productive to act in haste, without the necessary preparation that will allow progress to be achieved. This time we must succeed. A new failure will be devastating for the future of our people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, » the President stressed.

He reiterated his readiness to proceed with the opening of a crossing point at Ledra street, in Nicosia, to and from the northern Turkish occupied areas, and noted at the same time that all necessary arrangements should be made to open another crossing point at Limnitis, on the north west, at the earliest possible date.

Summing up the government’s position, the President said a new Cyprus effort should have as its starting point the UN-brokered agreement of 8th July 2006, since this is the only agreement that exists between the two Cypriot communities, apart from the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979 and it enjoys the support of both the Security Council and the European Union.

« We shall honour the signature of my predecessor, the former President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, » said the President, adding he expects and anticipates that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will also honour his own signature on the agreement « so that we can move forward ».

Referring to the July agreement, aimed to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations, he expressed readiness to discuss with an open mind and work intensively towards its implementation at the earliest possible time and also to listen carefully what, according to Talat, are the obstacles and problems which have not allowed the implementation of the agreement so far.

Describing the Cyprus problem as a complex and difficult one, President Christofias said that in order to resolve it, it is imperative to have the cooperation and good will of both sides, stressing that on the part of the Greek Cypriot side « we are ready and willing to work hard to reach, under the circumstances, a fair, viable and workable solution, soon ».

« The basis for a solution, on which we can and must work, does exist. It is the High Level Agreements which provide for a bizonal, bi-communal federation. It is the UN Security Council resolutions and the principles of international and European law, » the President said, noting that adherence to positions which do not conform to this basis does not help to create the necessary political climate, in view of the fact that this is the first meeting between the leaders of the two Cypriot communities.

We have to look ahead and not constantly turn back to the past and to positions which are not constructive and productive, Christofias said, stressing that for a solution to be viable and fair it has to be agreed by the Cypriots themselves and added that he is gratified that, following the negative experience of recent years, the international community now states this position.

He said that a partnership between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots has existed since 1960, as a result of the Zurich and London Agreements, noting that it has not worked, and both communities and foreign interventions, « are responsible for this ».

He declared the government’s readiness to honour the compromise for the creation of a bizonal, bi-communal federation, which has become necessary in order to cope with the conditions created by Turkey’s military intervention in Cyprus and the occupation by Turkey of a large part of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.

« We accept the renewal of the partnership and the evolution of the unitary bi-communal state of Cyprus, into a bizonal, bi-communal federal state, with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, in which the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, will be respected and safeguarded. We accept the political equality, as this is defined in the relevant resolutions of the United Nations », he said.

Concluding, he said he will attend the meeting of March 21 with goodwill and ready for hard work, noting that the continuation of the status quo is not to the benefit of either the Greek Cypriots or the Turkish Cypriots. « It is not to the benefit of anybody. We are convinced that if we act, first and foremost as Cypriots, and if we work for the benefit of our common homeland, the chances of reaching a solution that will be in the interest of the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike will be maximized », he said.

He also said he is ready to proceed with the opening of Ledra Street and at the same time, it is also his position that all necessary arrangements should be made to open the Limnitis check-point at the earliest possible time.

« Certainly, the opening of the crossing points does not constitute the solution to the Cyprus problem, but it does help to enhance communication between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and to strengthen the trust between them », the President concluded.

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