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Media Watch 2006

08 September 2006
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 8 September 2006.
Turkey must normalise relations with Cyprus – Dutch Foreign Minister
"If Turkey wants to continue its EU accession negotiations, it must normalise relations with Cyprus, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said during a visit to the island."

"If Turkey wants to continue its EU accession negotiations, it must normalise relations with Cyprus, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said during a visit to the island.

Bot was on a fact-finding visit to Cyprus in view of Turkey's progress report due out next month and Ankara's continued embargo on Cyprus ships and planes.

''It is in this light that I have come to listen about the situation in Cyprus, what their opinion is about a possible progress in the negotiations between Turkey and Cyprus because I think that if you want to continue the accession negotiations with Turkey it is very important that the situation between Cyprus and Turkey be normalised."

The Dutch minister said he was briefed about the government's proposals to open Famagusta with the joint administration of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots under EU supervision, as well as the return of the fenced off town Varosha to its legal inhabitants.

Bot suggested that this proposal could be part of a compromise deal to get movement on the Cyprus issue and the impasse over the customs accord.

He said ideas put forward by the Luxembourg presidency on Famagusta and Varosha was ''a very good basis for finding a solution.''

''In the meantime we try to explore confidence building measures that would contribute to the process and help the start of the process.

"Both parties have to make a little move forward and others can help to push in the hope that this would lead to an overall satisfactory conclusion of a problem that has been haunting us for such a long period,'' said Bot.

Situation frozen

He regretted that Ankara's refusal to implement the Ankara Protocol, by not opening its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic was causing a rift in Europe.

''Most important is to see whether we can create any progress because the situation is frozen at present, it is a matter of concern in all EU countries because we would like to see that negotiations between EU and Turkey can proceed even at a very slow pace.''

However, Bot said it would not be a 'good idea' if negotiations with Turkey were to stop.

''We are trying to explore possibilities for a movement on all sides, so in October we can come to the conclusion that parties are approaching each other, that a compromise is possible and of course the difficulty is to explore the limits of that compromise, the possibilities that are present at the moment.''

''Turkey wants to become a member of EU and knows what the conditions are and I think because many people have submitted good proposals on the table for a compromise so it must be possible to work within these limits for a final solution,'' Bot concluded.

After holding talks with his counterpart George Lillikas, Bot met President Tassos Papadopoulos.

Lillikas described their meeting as very constructive, saying they had the opportunity to discuss Turkey's EU accession negotiations, as well as issues to promote the Cyprus problem.

He outlined the government's position on Turkey's obligations to meet EU commitments it undertook towards the bloc including Cyprus.

''We also expressed hope that Turkey is persuaded by other countries that share political relations with Ankara, so that Turkey exploits the time left until its assessment by the European Commission to fulfill its obligations,'' Lillikas said.

The Cypriot Minister referred to the government's proposal on Famagusta, saying that the government is ready to proceed with the proposal so that there is progress that would contribute to a better political climate for an overall solution of the Cyprus problem.

In Athens yesterday, Bot said that Ankara had obligations to Cyprus but has yet to fulfill them."