The Greek Press Today
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21 March, 2008
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias said on Wednesday that Cyprus should at last become a modern state, under the umbrella of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, where all the human rights of every citizen of the federal Republic of Cyprus will be restored and an end will be given to any dependence from outside, either they are guarantor power or motherlands.
Replying to questions during a press conference at the Presidential Palace for Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and foreign media, President Christofias said he will request from Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, during their meeting on Friday, to implement a moratorium on statements.
Asked in which spirit he would be approaching the problems raised by Talat, President Christofias said he did not wish to go into details in public, adding that he would be conveying to the Turkish Cypriot leader the view that there should be a moratorium in public statements, which may be conceived as provocative to the other side.
Asked what would happen if Talat avoided the implementation of the 8 July 2006 agreement, President Christofias said the two sides should
honor their signatures otherwise there was no point in meeting. President Christofias said problems could be overcome, adding that various issues would be raised during Friday's meeting. ''However, if there is good will and we honour that agreement, we will move forward,'' he noted.
Invited to comment on the role of the EU in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said the Union could play ''a significant and helpful role,'' noting that this was his plea to the European leaders and the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament he met in Brussels.
The president noted that the Cyprus problem would be solved at the UN and expressed hope that the Turkish leadership would show good will.
Referring to the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point in Nicosia, President Christofias said it would not result in immediate commercial activity but would ease the pain of division and would send out a message that the leaders of the two communities want to move forward.
Referring to the relations of AKEL, of which he is General Secretary, with the Republican Turkish Party (RTP), President Christofias said his party has been in favour of rapprochement for years and the RTP was one of the main contributors to this effort.
He pointed out, however, that the parties on either side had common positions in the past but now their views differ. ''These issues will be discussed in an effort to convince each other on where this country should be heading,'' so that the problems of both communities could be solved, he added.
''We want the common homeland of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to be truly united, under the roof of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, to restore all the human rights of every citizen of the united federal Republic of Cyprus, to put an end to any dependence from outside, either they are guarantor powers or motherlands,'' he said, adding that ''Cyprus needs to become at last a modern state.''
Asked why his party, AKEL, remained communist in an era in which communism has been abandoned in other parts of the world, President Christofias said ''we are concerned about what will happen to our divided homeland, not communism, not liberal capitalism, not the reign over humanity.''
Replying to questions, President Christofias said he was ready to discuss with the leadership of Turkey but noted that the question was if the Turkish leadership was willing to talk with him.
Referring to developments in Turkey, President Christofias said he was saddened to hear that the Attorney General was sending the political party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Supreme Court with a proposal to ban the party. The president said Cyprus wanted democracy to prevail in Turkey, adding that ''we will welcome an even more democratic and modern Turkey.''
President Christofias also called on the people of Cyprus to give the government some time to make changes, since the new government has only been in power for 18 days.
''It is not possible for everything to be done at once in the socioeconomic sector, having in mind the problems faced by the world economy, and the everyday problems, and the Cyprus problem. My plea to the people is to give us some time,'' he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
In his opening statement at the press conference, President Christofias expressed satisfaction that a meeting between the leaders of the island's two communities will take place on Friday, so soon after his election to the presidency in February this year.
He also stressed that he will attend the meeting with goodwill and said he is ready for hard work.
President Christofias said the meeting of March 21 will be of an exploratory nature, during which each community will state its fundamental positions and intentions with regard to the solution of the Cyprus problem.
"We do not want to have delays. We do not have the time. At the same time, we believe that it is not productive to act in haste, without the necessary preparation that will allow progress to be achieved. This time we must succeed. A new failure will be devastating for the future of our people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," the president stressed.
He reiterated his readiness to proceed with the opening of a crossing point at Ledra street, in Nicosia, to and from the northern Turkish occupied areas, and noted at the same time that all necessary arrangements should be made to open another crossing point at Limnitis, on the north west, at the earliest possible date.
Summing up the government's position, the president said a new Cyprus effort should have as its starting point the UN-brokered agreement of 8th July 2006, since this is the only agreement that exists between the two Cypriot communities, apart from the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979 and it enjoys the support of both the Security Council and the European Union.
"We shall honor the signature of my predecessor, the former President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos," said the president, adding he expects and anticipates that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will also honour his own signature on the agreement "so that we can move forward".
Referring to the July agreement, aimed to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations, he expressed readiness to discuss with an open mind and work intensively toward its implementation at the earliest possible time and also to listen carefully what, according to Talat, are the obstacles and problems which have not allowed the implementation of the agreement so far.
Describing the Cyprus problem as a complex and difficult one, President Christofias said that in order to resolve it, it is imperative to have the cooperation and good will of both sides, stressing that on the part of the Greek Cypriot side "we are ready and willing to work hard to reach, under the circumstances, a fair, viable and workable solution, soon".
"The basis for a solution, on which we can and must work, does exist. It is the High Level Agreements which provide for a bizonal, bi-communal federation. It is the UN Security Council resolutions and the principles of international and European law," the president said, noting that adherence to positions which do not conform to this basis does not help to create the necessary political climate, in view of the fact that this is the first meeting between the leaders of the two Cypriot communities.
"We have to look ahead and not constantly turn back to the past and to positions which are not constructive and productive," Christofias said, stressing that for a solution to be viable and fair it has to be agreed by the Cypriots themselves and added that he is gratified that, following the negative experience of recent years, the international community now states this position.
He said that a partnership between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots has existed since 1960, as a result of the Zurich and London
Agreements, noting that it has not worked, and both communities and foreign interventions, "are responsible for this".
He declared the government's readiness to honour the compromise for the creation of a bizonal, bi-communal federation, which has become
necessary in order to cope with the conditions created by Turkey's military intervention in Cyprus and the occupation by Turkey of a large part of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
"We accept the renewal of the partnership and the evolution of the unitary bi-communal state of Cyprus, into a bizonal, bi-communal federal state, with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, in which the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, will be respected and safeguarded. We accept the political equality, as this is defined in the relevant resolutions of the United Nations", he said.
Concluding, he said he will attend the meeting of March 21 with goodwill and ready for hard work, noting that the continuation of the status quo is not to the benefit of either the Greek Cypriots or the Turkish Cypriots. "It is not to the benefit of anybody. We are convinced that if we act, first and foremost as Cypriots, and if we work for the benefit of our common homeland, the chances of reaching a solution that will be in the interest of the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike will be maximized", he said.
He also said he is ready to proceed with the opening of Ledra Street and at the same time, it is also his position that all necessary arrangements should be made to open the Limnitis check-point at the earliest possible time.
"Certainly, the opening of the crossing points does not constitute the solution to the Cyprus problem, but it does help to enhance communication between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and to strengthen the trust between them", the president concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency