23 February, 2006
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos expressed the conviction that Turkey will comply with its obligations towards the EU and subsequently towards Cyprus.
Speaking on Wednesday after returning from a four-day working visit to Austria, which he described as ''very useful,'' President Papadopoulos was invited to comment on statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who said that Turkey will never abrogate the rights of the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.
The president said that ''if Turkey cannot abrogate its rights, we have the same right, that is not to abrogate our rights.''
However, the president said he hoped ''Turkey will comply with the obligations it has towards the EU and therefore towards Cyprus.''
Referring to the issue of Cyprus vetoing Turkey's EU course, the president said the issue is clear, ''every EU member state has the right, when it judges that it can, that exercising its right to veto is its last line of defense.''
In his statements, President Papadopoulos also said the Cypriot government disagrees with the US policy regarding the issue of direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas that reunification will come with the lifting of the so-called restrictions on trade.
President Papadopoulos said that ''on the contrary, free trade makes official and perpetuates division and not reunification.''
The president was invited to comment on the US intention for direct trade with the occupied areas in a procedure to harmonize phyto-sanitary certificates on the part of the Turkish Cypriot side to comply with US import demands.
President Papadopoulos said this was the US intention as described in a ''Washington Times'' report but as US Deputy Assistant of State Matt Bryza had stated, it was misleading.
Phyto-sanitary certificates, the president said, concern Europe, they are a European regulation and do not involve third countries.
He said the American policy is not new ''and we are against it with all the available means and power we have.''
President Papadopoulos also said the Republic of Cyprus was not responsible for the loss of funds from the 259 million euros allocated to Turkey as part of the financial regulation, noting that the government accepted the regulation since October 2004. ''The Republic of Cyprus will not be responsible if the remaining funds have not been allocated,'' he added.
He said some countries tried to couple the financial regulation with that on direct trade but the Republic ''did not from the start accept this.''
President Papadopoulos said the Austrian presidency of the EU is making every effort to decouple the regulations, noting it was one of the fundamental results of his talks with the Austrian Chancellor.
Referring to his visit to Austria, President Papadopoulos said his discussions were ''very useful'' and reiterated that Austria is ''a friendly country which shows a lot of understanding towards our positions'' and expressed the hope that the Austrian Presidency will be successful in handling the issues before it during its term.
Source: Athens News Agency