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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 04-02-11

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.28/04 11.02.04

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Erdogan asked Prodi to intervene on the conditions set by the U.N. Secretary-General
  • [02] The Turkish Prime Minister stated that Denktas was given a road map to follow during talks on Cyprus
  • [03] Statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister in Poland and at the airport upon his return to Turkey
  • [04] Turkish Cypriots demonstrate for peace while others express support for Denktas
  • [05] "Cyprus Meeting" at the Turkish Prime Minister's Office
  • [06] Turkish media reports on the meeting between the U.N. Secretary-General and the leaders of the two communities of Cyprus
  • [07] Statements by Rauf Denktas in New York before the joint meeting with Papadopoulos and Annan
  • [08] The leader of the main opposition in Turkey accuses the government of undermining Denktas
  • [09] Cyprus debate at the Turkish Grand National Assembly Postponed
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [10] Columnist in Hurriyet supports that the time has come to focus on the Aegean problems as well

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Erdogan asked Prodi to intervene on the conditions set by the U.N. Secretary-General

    Istanbul NTV television (10/02/04) broadcast that in addition to the US Administration, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also conducting close contacts with the EU with regard to the Cyprus process. It was learned that Erdogan, who spoke on the telephone with EU Commission President Prodi before leaving for South Korea, asked for the latter's support in softening UN Secretary-General Annan's conditions and overcoming the crisis over the methodology for the negotiations.

    Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who is currently in Poland, will return to Ankara tonight. A new stand will be determined in Ankara in line with the reports to emanate from New York. Meanwhile, the EU has also been added to the telephone diplomacy on the Cyprus issue, which was being conducted between Ankara and Washington until now. It was learned that Erdogan conducted a telephone conversation with Romano Prodi before Rauf Denktas left for New York on the weekend. Erdogan asked Prodi to become involved in the matter, noting that the Annan conditions regarding assurances for a referendum and his filling out the blanks pertaining to the points of disagreement are creating difficulties for the negotiations. The prime minister told Prodi: "A solution cannot be attained through the efforts of the Turkish side alone. The EU should also become involved." It was further learned that Prodi, in turn, took action to undertake initiatives with the UN Secretary-General after speaking to Erdogan.

    Government sources who gave information to NTV recalled that the Greek Cypriot side will become an EU member on 1 May, and the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" and Turkey will encounter very severe pressures after this date. The same sources noted that the Turkish side will not become the side that evades the negotiating table, and it is determined to continue with the efforts until the negotiations begin and an outcome is attained. The said sources said that if the crisis over the methodology for the negotiations is surmounted, a middle ground can be reached on the plan's contents with the participation of the United States and the EU as well.

    [02] The Turkish Prime Minister stated that Denktas was given a road map to follow during talks on Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (10/02/04) reported that the Turkish Prime Minister Mr Erdogan replied to questions of reporters on board the plane on his way back from South Korea to Turkey.

    Asked about the latest point of the Cyprus issue, Erdogan said: ''Everything about the Cyprus issue has been normal so far. We have always been in contact with the foreign ministry. I have not spoken to Mr. Denktas after our latest meeting in Ankara. I know that Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul had a conversation.''

    When asked what he expected from the Cyprus talks that would be held between Rauf Denktas and Tassos Papadopoulos in New York, Prime Minister Erdogan said: ''We expect the things we want to come true, if this is not the case, we will do what is necessary. I believe that the solution of this issue should be put forward by taking into consideration the interests of Turkey and TRNC, and the other side, too. But if you only say 'me', you can't sort out this issue. We insist on strengthening bizonality, the guarantor rights of Turkey, and making clear the map. Southern Cyprus clearly says about the Annan plan that they had objections to 100 articles.

    The Turkish Cypriot side does not say such a thing, the Turkish Cypriot side puts forward some basic things at this point and these have to come clear. Let's sort out this issue as TRNC and Turkey, but first of all these things should be put on a track.''

    Upon another question, Erdogan said: ''We took a decision in principle with Rauf Denktas, we will not speak through the media, I must also keep my promise.''

    When reminded about his telephone talk with U.S. President George W. Bush before his visit to South Korea, Erdogan said that he asked Bush for help regarding the Cyprus issue. ''We were later informed that he did that. We do our best. This is diplomacy. We will see its result,'' said Erdogan.

    ''A general discussion will be held in the parliament, will you be able to persuade the opposition?'' asked a journalist to Erdogan, adding that ''we don't have the mission of persuading the opposition. We tell our truths. The opposition can say anything anytime, I don't have the problem of persuading them,'' Erdogan noted.

    ''But, what we are doing is important. We never say or do anything which will be against the future of our country. But, what we consider right can be considered wrong by another. This is a social and political event. We are given an authority by our nation to rule. And, we are discussing our authority with every circle with whom we should discuss it and take our steps accordingly. But, this doesn't mean that we will take up issues by everybody at any moment. We wish to hold a parliamentary session to inform others. The opposition will continue to say what it considers right. We won't make concessions to anybody like a blank check,'' Erdogan said.

    Asked about his expectations from the meeting in New York and if Denktas could assume a different attitude, Erdogan said: ''We have given him a road map. We will see how much he keeps to it and how much he deviates from it. Denktas' withdrawal from talks is out of question.''

    When asked what would happen if Denktas did not keep up with the negotiation plan, Erdogan said: ''TRNC will pay its price. Think about days after May 1. What will be the income and the outcome? Those who are talking much about these issues should be asked what Turkey and TRNC will gain and lose after May 1. We have talked about all these issues.''

    Asked if he still thought he was one step forward, Erdogan said: ''This is my understanding. This is what I want. We haven't hidden any of them. I and my friends, that is, the government think so. If this happens, the issue will be solved. You will give some, but you will gain some in return. Then, you will meet at a common point.''

    Replying to another question, Erdogan said: ''We haven't seen any positive approach towards talks we have been holding in the letter sent by Annan. We have already assumed an attitude to resume talks.''

    [03] Statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister in Poland and at the airport upon his return to Turkey

    Ankara Anatolia (10/02/04) reported from Warsaw that the Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said on Tuesday that Turkey wanted co-existence of two communities in Cyprus.

    Gul, who is paying an official visit to Poland, delivered a speech on Turkey's approaches to European Union (EU) at the College of Europe Natolin.

    When the ambassador of Cyprus in Warsaw asked him if Turkey was sincere in the solution of the Cyprus issue, Gul said : ''We want co-existence of two communities in the island. But, facts of the island should not be ignored. We don't want this issue to be re-brought to the agenda after it is solved. If it is re-brought to the agenda, this will be a disaster for everybody. The 1960s and 1970s should not be forgotten.''

    Ankara TRT 2 Television (10/02/04) broadcast that Mr Gul, who is continuing his contacts in Warsaw, reacted to reports emanating from New York that Denktas would leave the talks. He said: "I do not understand how they come up with such things. There is no such thing that everything will be said behind closed doors. This is out of the question. Everyone will do his best with goodwill". He then stressed that the concerned officials have not gone to New York in vain. In response to a question on whether the negotiations will begin, Gul painted a positive picture by saying: "They have already begun to hold the preliminary talks". Gul, thus, denied all the rumours.

    Meanwhile Istanbul NTV television (10/02/04) broadcast live the statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul at Ankara Esenboga Airport on his return from Poland.

    Following are Mr Gul's replies to questions on Cyprus:

    Question: Erdogan said that Denktas was given a road map and that if he does not comply with it, then both Turkey and Cyprus will pay. Does this mean that there are some problems with regard to the negotiations? This seems like a warning.

    Answer: I do not know this. This is the first I hear of this. As you know, the honourable prime minister is in South Korea. He is on his way back to Turkey. Both the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus "TRNC" and Turkey went to these negotiations with goodwill. As you know, the negotiations are expected to begin at 16:00 New York time, at 23:00 Turkish time. Certain preliminary talks were held. So far everything went well. We hope that everything will go well and that a lasting solution will be reached before 1 May. Turkey is exerting efforts in that direction. So is the "TRNC".

    Question: Is Annan continuing to hold talks? Have the talks advanced as planned so far?

    Answer: Yes, everything is advancing smoothly. As I have already said, they will get together at 23:00 Turkish time.

    Question: You held a phone conversation with your US counterpart last week and the prime minister held a conversation with Mr. Bush. Prodi was also contacted. Have any preliminary talks been held with the EU and the United States?

    Answer: Not with the United States, but talks are constantly being held on the issue. Talks have been held and are being held. As you can guess, intense work is being conducted. I went through with my visit to Poland because such a visit was not made during the last ten years. Moreover, it was postponed a few times. Naturally, I was constantly holding contacts on the Cyprus issue from there. Our prime minister was also constantly briefed on the issue. This is all I have to say at this stage.

    Question: There are discussions as to what will happen in the event Denktas withdraws from the negotiating table.

    Answer: One should not discuss such things now. Our media colleagues should read from beginning to end all the statements we make. Different meanings should not be attached to our statements at such a critical stage. I have been saying from the very beginning, our goodwill is clear. Turkey prefers to reach a solution before 1 May. I would not like to repeat here the issues over which we are sensitive because I have repeated them many times in the past. Everyone should get to work with patience and goodwill. We hope that a conciliation will be reached this time.

    Question: Has the unease felt over De Soto been resolved?

    Answer: All these issues have been discussed. As I have said, they will get together this afternoon at 16:00 New York time.

    Question: Are you in contact with Mr. Denktas?

    Answer: No doubt, we are in constant contact with everyone.

    Question: Can we expect a meeting tonight?

    Answer: Naturally, we, the pertinent ministers will meet here. We will review the latest developments until the honourable prime minister returns.

    Question: Will the prime minister not attend the meeting?

    Answer: When he arrives, he will join.

    [04] Turkish Cypriots demonstrate for peace while others express support for Denktas

    Ankara Anatolia (10/02/04)reported from occupied Nicosia that the "Action for determination and a solution by 21 May" was organized in Nicosia by a number of political parties and civil society organizations.

    Republican Turkish Party General Secretary Ferdi Sabit Soyer, who spoke at the action held in the Tenth Year Park, said that an intense discussion is underway in New York in accordance with the timetable of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which foresees a settlement by 1 May.

    Soyer, declaring that a settlement in Cyprus will bring stability both to the region and to Turkey, noted that only a short while remains before 1 May and stated that negotiations should be launched immediately and conducted rapidly.

    Pointing out that "The desire of the Turks of Cyprus for a settlement and for the European Union coincides with the desire of 70 million people [in Turkey] for democratization and the EU", Soyer said he had full confidence that a settlement will be achieved.

    Soyer maintained that [Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf] "Denktas and Turkey must finally understand that the status quo cannot continue", and, addressing Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos, said that he will not be able to achieve any results by hiding behind the title of the "Republic of Cyprus".

    Ferdi Sabit Soyer said that, according to Annan's timetable, it is essential to work hard and win the referendum planned to be conducted on 21 April.

    Peace and Democracy Movement (PDM) Chairman Mustafa Akinci, for his part, expressed the hope that the action would be the last action voicing the call for a solution and the EU, and that meetings after this would be held to celebrate the settlement and EU membership.

    Akinci said: "If the basic principles of the Annan Plan are begun to be debated once again, it will go on for another forty years, and it is because Annan is aware of this that he does not want the basic principles to be debated." He also said that he approves Annan's proposals.

    Solution and European Union Party (SEUP) Chairman Ali Erel, noting that the Turks of Cyprus have stood up for their own future, and that Annan has not taken any steps backwards, said that a solution on the basis of the Annan Plan is not in the vision of Denktas. Pointing out that people had gathered in order to contribute to a solution and to exert pressure in this direction, Erel said that the solution will come before 1 May as a result of their resolve.

    In another move, the illegal settlers Association has claimed that "Cyprus, the national cause of the Turkish nation, cannot be handed over to the Greek and Greek Cypriot duo for the sake of the fantasy of the European Union."

    The Association's President Hakan Yozcu, in a written statement, criticized the JDP [Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party] government and charged that the statements made to date on the Cyprus issue by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been inconsistent and have given strength to the other side.

    Hakan Yozcu maintained that no political force in Cyprus or Turkey will be able to make concessions or sell out Cyprus, and that the Turkish nation will in time give the necessary lesson to those who want to make concessions.

    Touching as well upon UN Secretary -General Kofi Annan's statement that he wanted the two communities on Cyprus to press their leaders to reach a settlement, Yozcu said that this desire of Annan's was intended to incite the people and influence them to take a stance in opposition to Denktas, and that this was unacceptable behaviour.

    Asserting that Rauf Denktas was in New York in order to make a crucial decision, Hakan Yozcu declared it was not right for Denktas to be portrayed as if he were alone. Yozcu said: "He has the entire TRNC people, all the people of Turkey, and the Turkish world behind him."

    He concluded: "President Denktas is one of the greatest leaders that the Turkish world has produced". He has devoted his life to the Cyprus cause, has made this cause the struggle for the honour of the Turkish world, and he has taken his strength from the Turkish nation, which has always been at his side."

    Meanwhile, 12 civil society organizations also declared their support for Rauf Denktas in a statement that they issued jointly.

    In a written statement issued jointly, the "Human Rights Association", the "Public Employees' Union", the "Mothers' Association", the "Consumers' Association", the "Organization of Turkish Cypriot Southern Migrants Who Have Suffered Losses"; the "Cypriot Turkish Consumers' Union", the "Paphos Turkish Union", the "National Tradesmen's Movement", the "Pendadaktylos Mountain Flag Illumination Society", the "Asmaalti and Arasta Tradesmen's Association", the "Cypriot Turkish Young Consumers' Association", and the "Association for Publicizing and Promoting the TRNC" stressed that Rauf Denktas cherishes the interests of the Turkish people of Cyprus above everything else, including EU membership.

    The statement noted that, within this context, the "Association for Publicizing and Promoting the TRNC" was launching a "vigil of support for Denktas" in front of the Martyrs' Monument and called upon the entire people to take part in this action.

    [05] "Cyprus Meeting" at the Turkish Prime Minister's Office

    According to the local Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (11/02/04) Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and a number of Turkish ministers had a meeting yesterday at the Turkish Prime Minister's Office in Ankara. During the meeting which lasted two and half hours the ministers made an evaluation of the current events in the Cyprus problem.

    State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullaif Sener, after the meeting, told the journalist that they will continue their assessment. In his turn Gul said that they were following the developments in New York and that they will continue their assessment.

    [06] Turkish media reports on the meeting between the U.N.

    Secretary-General and the leaders of the two communities of Cyprus Istanbul NTV television (10/02/04) broadcast that the meeting between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Rauf Denktas, the Turkish leader and Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos will be held at 23:00 [21:00 GMT] today. Denktas, who met with Annan's special Cyprus representative Alvaro de Soto at the Turkish House, said that this will be a tripartite meeting. In a statement after his meeting with Alvaro de Soto, Denktas said: "He came here merely to invite us. We, in turn, accepted the invitation. During today's meeting, both sides will present the changes they want to introduce. This is something we have been wanting to do for a long time."

    Before the tripartite meeting, Annan is expected to meet with Papadopoulos at 22:30 and with Denktas at 22:45. It is reported that if an agreement is reached during the meeting, the Cyprus negotiations may resume in Nicosia on 16 February.

    According to diplomatic circles, Denktas is rejecting Annan's preconditions in their entirety. Therefore, it will reportedly be difficult for today's meeting to yield a decision to resume the negotiations.

    Moreover, Ankara Anatolia (10/02/04) reported from New York that the Tripartite Cyprus talks started at 23:35 Turkish local time in the U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Rauf Denktas, Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat and Foreign Minister Serdar Denktas participated in the meeting.

    The Greek Cypriot delegation included Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos as well as former Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides.

    The U.N. delegation included Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his special envoy to Cyprus Alvaro De Soto and Undersecretary-General Sir Kieran Prendergast.

    Diplomatic sources in the U.N. stated that they hoped the meeting would not last long.

    In case the sides reach compromise, Annan is foreseen to issue a statement and announce that the talks would continue in Cyprus starting as of next week. The talks would be carried out under the leadership of De Soto in case the talks continue in Cyprus.

    Reporting after the meeting Ankara TRT 2 Television (11/02/04) broadcast that a second round of Cyprus talks will be held today [11 February]. Both sides expressed their reservations to UN Secretary-General Annan at yesterday's [10 February] meeting. Both sides will get together today once again.

    At first, Kofi Annan met with Papadopoulos. Later, the meeting between Rauf Denktas, and Annan started. The tripartite meetings followed the Denktas-Annan meeting, which lasted more than scheduled. The Greek Cypriot side requested for a break twice during the two-hour meeting and conducted an assessment among themselves.

    In the wake of the meeting, Rauf Denktas said that the meeting will continue on 11 February as well. Alvaro de Soto, UN Secretary-General's Cyprus special envoy who also made a statement after the meetings, said that the meetings were positive, adding that the sides were requested not to make detailed statements to the press.

    The last statement of the day was issued by Serdar Denktas. Noting that the meetings were extremely positive, Serdar Denktas said the following to a question on whether the talks started.

    "We view the situation as resuscitating a patient in a coma. We will exert efforts to this end. It goes without saying that we are not very happy with the present shape. We know that the Greek Cypriot side is also not very happy. Both sides are looking into it. It will be very good if we can rectify it, resuscitate the patient, and secure a positive solution. We all want a solution and we are going to work for a solution. The tool we are going to use to reach a solution will be the Annan plan".

    The meetings will resume today at 23:00 [21:00 GMT] local time.

    [07] Statements by Rauf Denktas in New York before the joint meeting with Papadopoulos and Annan

    TRT 2 Television (10/02/04) broadcast an interview with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas by Meltem Erten in New York. Question: Annan said that if the sides agree he can make certain changes. Should we see this as a positive signal before the meeting?

    Answer: We came here because of this promise. He had said that if the two sides agree on the changes they want, then he was going to help. Naturally, this was an overture. As I said, we came here because of this overture. In reply to a question following a meeting of the UN Security Council yesterday [9 February], Mr Annan said: 'No, they came knowing what is going on. They will either accept it or not.'

    We will not comment on media reports. When we see him today, we will say that what we have at the moment is a formula which is not being accepted by the concerned sides. The sides obviously rejected it in the Hague. We could not have accepted to submit the document to a referendum the way it was. Turkey could not have accepted it. Later, Papadopoulos, too, openly said that he could not accept it. In fact, he had said so in the Hague, but people appeared not to understand.

    I do not think that we are going to be pressured into accepting this formula now. That would not be right. Therefore, we found the overture -- that the two sides should tell each other what they want -- very appropriate. Do not forget that in the Hague I said at the end: Allow us to discuss the changes we want made; if we agree then we can go to a referendum.

    My proposal was rejected. Everybody wanted to start the negotiations probably. I do not think that we will have to face the same ploy now.

    Question: The United States and Turkey are discussing this issue. Are you feeling any pressure being exerted on you?

    Answer: There is no need for pressure at the moment. The situation is not one that would require pressure. Therefore we are not under pressure. We know what Turkey wants. Turkey wants the problem solved through negotiations. As I always say, however, the two sides must be at the same level and the degree of their desire for a solution should be equal. The Greek Cypriots believed until now that they owned the legitimate Cyprus republic, therefore they did not come round. Now, their thinking is that they are going to join the EU on 1 May, so they do not care what happens. The facilitator and so on must tell the Greek Cypriots that this is not right, that this attitude will not lead them anywhere.

    [08] The leader of the main opposition in Turkey accuses the government of undermining Denktas

    NTV television (10.02.04) broadcast that Deniz Baykal, chairman of the Republican People's Party (RPP), has said that the government deliberately created the situation currently reigning in connection with Cyprus. He said: "The promise to be one step ahead of the Greek Cypriots lies behind all this. Did the government think it would get a medal by being ahead of the Greek Cypriots? Who is it trying to please?"

    Addressing the RPP faction today, Baykal charged that the policy being pursued on Cyprus is not, as claimed by the government, national. He said: There is a National Security Council decision which was subsequently confirmed at the summit meeting at the presidential mansion. He [Erdogan] goes and makes completely different promises, says different things to the two sides, tells the rabbit to run and the dog to chase the rabbit. A campaign is being conducted to deliberately undermine Denktas."

    [09] Cyprus debate at the Turkish Grand National Assembly Postponed

    According to the private TV Channel CNN-TURK (11/02/04-11:00 hours local time) the Cyprus debate at the Turkish Grand National Assembly, demanded by the opposition Republican People's Party of Deniz Baykal has been postponed. No reason for the postponement was given.

    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [10] Columnist in Hurriyet supports that the time has come to focus on the Aegean problems as well

    Istanbul Hurriyet newspaper (10/02/04) publishes the following commentary by Sedat Ergin under the title: "Aegean Coming up After Cyprus":

    "The short press statement issued on 4 February by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs read as follows:

    The 23rd session of the series of exploratory contacts held between the Undersecretaries of the Turkish and Greek Foreign Ministries will be held in London during 5-6 February due to the fact that the leader of the Greek delegation, Ambassador Anastasios Skopelitis, has been assigned as Ambassador in London.

    The publication by the Ministry of a similar, one-sentence announcement every month since March of 2002 has turned into an established tradition.

    Based on this short announcement, we can make the following observations:

    Since the Foreign Affairs Undersecretaries have been meeting regularly every month since March of 2002 in order to discuss complex problems of the Aegean between the two countries, an institutionalized mechanism of dialogue between Turkey and Greece is now functioning.

    The fact that Ambassador Skopelitis, who has conducted these contacts on behalf of Greece for the past two years, was retained in the position of handling the talks by his government even after having been assigned to London last November shows that Athens does not want a break in the process to be experienced.

    It is noteworthy that participation in the discussions has been held to a very small circle. The fact that there have been no serious leaks to the press indicates that the method of "quiet diplomacy" aimed at has to date been successful.

    Subtitle : After 20 years of having been broken off The Aegean issues between Turkey and Greece came up following the Cyprus Peace Operation [i.e., Turkey's occupation of Northern Cyprus] in 1974, and were the topic of a number of official contacts during the second half of the 1970s.

    In that period, the continental shelf and airspace issues were discussed separately, but no results were obtained.

    Thereafter, after Papandreou Senior [Andreas Papandreou] was elected as [Greek] Prime Minister in 1981, and after he declared that he "considered the entire continental shelf and airspace in the Aegean to be Greek sovereign territory" and said that "There is nothing to be negotiated", there were no serious talks regarding the problems of the Aegean for approximately 20 years.

    When looked at from this perspective, the importance of the quiet diplomacy conducted over the past two years must be acknowledged.

    Subtitle : Aegean Bargaining Could Start This Year Given that [Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur] Ziyal and Skopelitis have sat down at the table 23 times, is there any progress towards resolving the Aegean issues?

    The answer to this question is being guarded with great secrecy. But it would also not be realistic to say that a process that has been underway for the past two years is being conducted merely for the purposes of show.

    These contacts are "exploratory" [Turkish: 'istiksafi'], that is, "aimed at discovering something", and probably indicate quiet preparations prior to a process of serious and comprehensive negotiations.

    In a sense, it is being determined with what agenda and according to what parameters the bargaining will proceed when official negotiations commence.

    In fact, for Turkey and Greece merely to announce that, as a result of these exploratory contacts, they have decided to take up negotiations on Aegean issues would indicate a very important leap forward in the relations between the two countries.

    The launching of negotiations, following these "exploratory" contacts, is of vital importance from the standpoint of Turkey's being able to get a date [to begin membership negotiations] from the EU at the end of 2004.

    Subtitle : EU Expects a Settlement by End of 2004

    In order to be able to see this, it is sufficient to recall the following reference to the Aegean issues that was made at the 1999 EU Helsinki summit which gave Turkey "full candidate" status and implicitly made Cyprus a condition [for full membership]:

    "The EU Council calls upon the candidate states to show every effort to resolve ongoing border disputes and other related issues. If this cannot be successfully accomplished, the disputes should be taken, within a reasonable period, to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

    "The EU Council will review the situation involving ongoing disputes, in connection with their ramifications for the accession process, and by the end of the year 2004 at the latest, with the aim of promoting their resolution via the ICJ."

    The message here should be sufficiently clear. Turkey, by the end of this year, has to be in a position to show that it has begun to resolve not only the Cyprus issue, but at the same time its disagreements with Greece as well, in order to be able to get a date from the EU.

    During a period in which the Turkish public has been focusing all its attention on the Cyprus issue, the time is now coming to turn the spotlights towards the problems of the Aegean."

    EG/


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