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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 07-01-09

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The removal of an illegally erected footbridge could by no means be considered as a retreat or concession on behalf of the Turkish side, stressed Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes, commenting on the dismantling of the footbridge that the occupation regime constructed a year ago at the Turkish occupied areas of Nicosia, the last divided capital in the world.

    ``Removing this illegality committed by the prepetrators should not be applauded as a noble gesture of goodwill, neither should it be rewarded with concessions on our part,`` the Spokesman said.

    Today, Tuesday, the Turkish occupation regime began dismantling the footbridge that it illegally erected a year ago at the end of the Ledra Street in the northern occupied areas of Nicosia.

    The bridge was erected so that Turkish military could unhindered continue its patrols.

    The Spokesman reiterated that the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point does not only depend on the removal of the footbridge, but rather on the creation of secure conditions for the smooth and safe free movement of all citizens.

    The government of Cyprus has submitted to the UN in writing the preconditions to open the Ledra Street crossing point, which include the withdrawal of the troops from the region, the unmanning of the area, the restoration of adjacent buildings and the demining.

    Pashiardes noted that the dismantling work began today upon a decision taken by the Turkish military leadership and with the full compliance on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

    Asked whether the government intends to demolish the wall in front of the government of Cyprus National Guard observation post at Ledras Street, the Spokesman referred to the proposals put forward by the government of Cyprus for the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point in 2005, saying that these proposals are still valid.

    We are ready to discuss our proposals through the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus so that to open the crossing point and enable more contacts between the two communities of Cyprus. There is no political expedience on our part, he said.

    The main goal for the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point, he added, is the secure movement of all citizens and the creation of a climate of mutual trust between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    But the citizens security is not at all safeguarded by the maintenance of crumbly adjacent buildings and mines in the area, nor is a climate of mutual trust promoted by the provocative presence of Turkish military patrols and symbols of the pseudostate, he underlined.

    The dismantling of the footbridge or the demolition of a wall do not serve the cause of opening the Ledra Street crossing point, he pointed out.

    Answering to questions, Pashiardes noted that it was a Greek Cypriot sides initiative and not a Turkish sides initiative to open the Ledra Street crossing point.

    We submitted our proposals for the opening of the crossing point in December 2005 and in July 2006. A year after the submission of our proposals, the Turkish side chose just one part of our overall proposals, namely the dismantling of the footbridge, announcing that this is a Turkish initiative and a sensational move, he said.

    The Greek Cypriot side, he added, is not interested in the creation of impressions and he wondered why the Turkish side does not proceed to a dialogue through the UNFICYP for the secure opening of the crossing point.

    If the Turkish side really seeks to open the crossing point, why does it not proceed to a dialogue that would enable the removal of every obstacle that hinders the free and secure movement of people? he wondered.

    Pashiardes said that so far, the Turkish side has not responded to the Greek Cypriot sides call to proceed to a dialogue through the UNIFICYP.

    I have no reason to doubt that UNIFICYP conveyed our proposals to the Turkish side. But I have reasons to doubt that the Turkish side is not aware of our proposal. Our proposals, our readiness and our willingness to discuss all aspects concerning the smooth and secure opening of the crossing point are still valid, he pointed out.

    Commenting on remarks by the Turkish press that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat asserted his authority upon the Turkish military for the dismantling of the footbridge, Pashiardes recalled that the Turkish General Staff had issued an announcement in which it stated that the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point falls within its exclusive competence and Talat is considered to be incompetent to decide and discuss the matter.

    Pashiardes questioned Talats freedom to make his own decisions, since the first and last word regarding the Cyprus issue, belongs to Ankara and not to the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

    He furthermore wondered ``which would be the purpose or the outcome of a meeting between President Papadopoulos and Mehmet Ali Talat who is considered by the Turkish army as incompetent and who is basically hindered by the Turkish army to discuss matters of military nature?.

    Pashiardes recalled the agreement between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on July 8, 2006 to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    He said that according to the July 8 agreement, President Papadopoulos and Mehmet Ali Talat are to meet from time to time as appropriate, to give directions to the expert bi-communal working groups as well as to review the work of the Technical Committees.

    Given that the technical committees and the teams of experts have not been established yet, there is for now no substantive reason of a meeting between them, but the creation of an impression that they met, without any practical outcome, he said.

    Invited to comment on press reports that Talat had asked the withdrawal of just a number of Turkish military troops from Cyprus, Pashiardes said that the government of Cyprus has no such information.

    He said that if press reports are true, such a withdrawal would actually mean nothing, since it would not lift the illegal occupation of the Republic of Cyprus nor could such a move be hailed by anyone.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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