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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-02-09

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, who is seeking re-election, has said that if elected he will do his utmost to convince the international community to exert pressure on Turkey to re-engage in efforts for a Cyprus settlement.

    In an interview with CNA, he said that a first step towards a solution must be made with the Turkish Cypriots, adding that power sharing in a future executive should be on an agreed basis.

    Papadopoulos said Cyprus backs Turkeys full accession to the European Union, provided that it fulfills all its obligations to the Union but also specifically to Cyprus.

    The incumbent president refuted criticism from his opponents that during his term in office Cyprus has suffered many setbacks, saying several of them relate to ``creating impressions rather than the substance of the issue`` but also stressed that he neither underestimates nor undermines what is happening.

    On his bid for re-election, he said he does not really believe opinion polls and acknowledges that no one candidate can be elected without the support of other parties.

    Cypriots will go to the polls on February 17 to elect their president for a five-year term. The three main presidential hopefuls are: current President Tassos Papadopoulos supported by the centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO), the Social Democrat EDEK, the European Party and the Environmentalists, House President Demetris Christofias backed by his party, left-wing AKEL and other groups, and Ioannis Kasoulides, former Foreign Minister and currently a Euro MP, supported by the rightiwng Democratic Rally (DISY) party and other movements.

    Former Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous and Euro MP Marios Matsakis are also in the presidential race, along with another four other candidates.

    A candidate to be elected to the Presidency needs more than 50% of the vote. If none of the candidates attains the required majority, the two candidates who will secure the greater number of votes shall proceed to a run-off election the following Sunday, February 24. The candidate who receives the greatest number of votes will become the new president.

    I shall do my utmost to convince those I must to exert strong pressure on Turkey. My first concern is to begin our own effort, proposing again specific measures for the resumption of a dialogue on the basis of the agreement we have with the Turkish Cypriots, the Gambarri agreement, he said.

    Papadopoulos referred also to the agreed procedure to implement the agreement of July 2006, providing for working groups with specific terms of reference and substantive negotiations on the fundamental aspects of the Cyprus question, a process which will lead to a comprehensive settlement. The July agreement was clinched, under UN auspices, between Papadopoulos and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    These fundamental aspects, Papadopoulos explained, relate to territorial adjustments, properties, human rights, the return of refugees, the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops, guarantees, the illegal settlers and the structure of the government.

    Any negotiation on the question of Cyprus, whenever this takes place, has to focus on the substantive aspects of the problem. The Annan plan included these aspects but with the wrong content, he said.

    He pointed out that the July 2006 agreement has the full support of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the backing of the European Council, which called on Turkey to actively pursue the implementation of the July agreement.

    Papadopoulos said that elements included in a UN-proposed solution plan - the Annan plan - and other proposals on a prospective political settlement can be revised or reversed in full, depending on the issue, adding that such matters are to be dealt with at the negotiating table.

    If we do not raise them, the Turkish side will, he added.

    On sharing power with the Turkish Cypriots, in a future united Cyprus, he had this to say: Turkish Cypriots will participate in the executive, in services and other government departments. Let us divide these, 70-30, or 80-20, the ratio will be part of the negotiations. I shall invite Talat to choose first, then I shall follow suit and each will get the percentage of power already agreed between us, the Cypriot President explained.

    Responding to questions about Turkeys position on the Annan plan, he said there is no doubt that in any new negotiations the Turkish side will insist on bringing back the Annan plan. He noted however that no foreigner, engaged with the question of Cyprus, talks about this the way they talked about it in 2004 (when the plan was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots and approved by the majority of the Turkish Cypriots).

    He noted that many of his critics, who disagree with his rejection of the Annan plan, revive the plan themselves.

    The Turkish Cypriots are our interlocutors, Ankara is an interlocutor by proximity. I neither underestimate nor undermine the Turkish Cypriot factor but at the same time I do not upgrade it either, in the sense that the Turkish Cypriots can convince Ankara to change its policy on Cyprus, he pointed out.

    As regards efforts to upgrade the illegal regime in Cyprus Turkish occupied areas, Papadopoulos said that there is a coordinated effort by some countries to satisfy the Turkish side, following its support for the Annan plan, and to ease the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.

    Papadopoulos said some countries say they cannot recognise a Turkish Cypriot state, but they want to develop economic relations with the Turkish Cypriots to facilitate reunification.

    I believe this is the wrong impression, however this is what they believe, he added, pointing out that so far there is no official recognition of the Turkish Cypriot regime, which the UN has described as ``legally invalid``.

    On Cyprus stance towards Turkeys EU accession course, Papadopoulos said that no political party, member of the National Council (top advisory body to the President) has said that Cyprus should exercise its right of veto within the EU.

    What we had agreed on is that we shall attempt to exchange Turkeys accession with some decisions in our favour, he said, noting that part of that has actually been achieved, including references to the need for Turkey to act in line with the Ankara protocol and normalise relations with Cyprus.

    Papadopoulos explained that Cyprus does not give its consent for the opening of negotiating chapters in Turkeys membership talks, unless Ankara satisfies some of the demands Nicosia puts forward.

    At the beginning, we were on our own within the Union, now others rally behind us and the climate allows us to be more demanding and exert more pressure, he said.

    On the possibility of a privileged relation between Turkey and Brussels, short of full membership, Papadopoulos said should this arise, it would be an agreement between the EU and a third country, which will have to be ratified unanimously by all 27 member states.

    In such a case, he explained, and if Turkey agrees to it, we shall make sure that Ankaras obligations towards Cyprus are safeguarded and will have to be met. Turkey has so far refused to open its ports and airports to Cyprus-flagged vessels and to aircraft flying the Cyprus flag. In addition Ankara has made no move towards normalising relations with Nicosia, which it does not recognise.

    Referring to the election campaign ahead of polling day on February 17, Papadopoulos said it was important that all candidates had put before the people their election programmes.

    This is a sign of a healthy democracy. The level of the political dialogue is very good, he noted.

    Responding to questions, he said during his five-year term in office there was real change.

    For the first time since 1971 there is no deficit in our budget, we have joined the euro area, without imposing any new taxes. We have introduced educational reforms, appointed Commissioners responsible for various issues, pensions have increased and social allowances have doubled, we have 100 inspectors to monitor prices, he said of the achievements of his government.

    He acknowledged however that there have been some adverse developments, and referred to a resolution passed by the German parliament recommending increased links with the Turkish Cypriot community. He talked about a sea route between the Turkish occupied port of Famagusta and Syria, which he said the government has partly addressed and various visits to the occupied areas as well as visits abroad by Turkish Cypriot officials of the illegal regime in a bid to press on with their demand for recognition of special status for the regime.

    Asked if he believes the election result is unpredictable, he said: I do not really believe opinion polls. Since however many polls suggest I obtain the highest percentage of the vote, I believe that the so-called statistical error does not apply to me only.

    Papadopoulos said he addresses himself to all citizens, adding that given the strength of the parties, nobody can get elected without cooperation with voters of other parties.

    As for cooperation among the party leadership, that is a different matter, he noted.

    Papadopoulos said that he has not given any undertaking in relation to the government he would form, if elected.

    Nonetheless, it is a law of nature that those who have agreed with my programme, when that programme is to be implemented, they will participate in its implementation. No other discussion on this matter has taken place, he explained.


    The UN will support good faith efforts on the part of both sides in Cyprus to restart talks and work for a solution, rather that launching a new initiative on its own, Secretary-General`s Spokesperson Michelle Montas said.

    Montas echoed remarks by the UN Chief`s Special Representative for Cyprus, Michael Moller, in Nicosia.

    Addressing the UNFICYP medal parade here, Moller wondered what more can UNFICYP do after 44 years on the island and added ``The answer to that question lies, as does the key to a settlement, not with us, but with Cypriots themselves.``


    Cypriot World Championship bronze medalist Kyriacos Ioannou broke Cyprus record in the Mens indoor High Jump with 2 metres and 32 centimetres, during an indoor High Jump meeting at Novi Sad, Serbia.

    Ioannou who came first in Novi Sad, has been, since 2006, the holder of the previous record of 2 meters and 30 centimetres

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