Monday, 24 May 2010

Izzet Izcan - Turkey threatens Cypriots with annihilation

Interview with Izzet Izcan, Secretary General of the Turkish Cypriot political party "United Cyprus", about the outcome of the 'elections' in Turkish-occupied Cyprus in April 2010 which resulted in Dervis Eroglu taking over leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community from Mehmet Ali Talat, the political situation in Cyprus and prospects for the intercommunal talks which recommence on 26th May.

Broadcast on 17th May 2010 by CyBC TV Biz Emeis program, providing bilingual items in Turkish in Greek

(With English subtitles, and transcript below, as translated from the Greek subtitles)

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(The clips embedded below are the clips detailed above, spoken in Turkish, with subtitles in English)

Original version:

(Spoken in Turkish, with Greek subtitles)

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(Huseyin Halil) Dear viewers, good evening.

On 26th May the talks begin again to find a solution to the Cyprus Problem. In order to assess the process and assess the upcoming developments we have with us today the General Secretary of the United Cyprus Party, Mr Izzet Izcan.

Welcome Mr Izcan.

The new leader of the Turkish Cypriot community is Eroglu. Why did Talat lose, or, why did Eroglu win?

Your party supported Talat.

Let us begin by assessing this outcome.

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) Was it that Talat lost or was it that Eroglu won?

(Izzet Izcan) (Laughs) Talat basically lost, but those who lost are the Turkish Cypriot community.

Talat had been brought to power with our support, as also that of all the other democratic elements, with the purpose of achieving our aim as soon as possible, which was a solution of the Cyprus problem. However, in these four or five years, Talat had considerably dissapointed the Turkish Cypriot community in terms of pursuing a consistent policy. At times he made good statements, at other times he talked as if he was a spokesman for the AKP, Erdogan's party, in the north of Cyprus. To this is added the failure in the economic and also in domestic policies of his own party's CTP Government, the party from which Talat had originated.

The conservative forces, namely those who support maintaining the status-quo and who wish to see the creation of two separate states in Cyprus, such as Eroglu, Denktash, and other fanatic nationalist parties with the support of the Deep State in Turkey, the military and their representatives here had organised themselves and carried out a psychological war. At the end of this campaign they cultivated despair in the Turkish Cypriot community which saw its aspirations not coming to fruition, and the talks did not lead to the desired outcome.

There had been great expectations of the European Union and the world beyond, something which had been raised by Talat himself. But these expectations were not realised.

The forces which oppose a European solution and a reunification of Cyprus exploited these failures to conduct a very intensive campaign.

Another significant contributory factor was the disruption of Talat's relations with those forces which supported a solution. He clashed with the educational unions, the medical unions, those of civil servants who prior to the referendum had created the 'This Country is Ours' platform and those people who had said yes during the referendum.

Can you imagine a political leadership which conflicts with that section of society from which it derives its power?

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) Just to continue your thought a little, that he came into conflict with those people who had pioneered the movement to bring about better days, and had struggled for the reunification of the country .... and as if this is not enough, and if I am mistaken please do correct me ... and if he maintained a negative position towards you which may have even boomeranged on him, particularly when he gave to many of the [Turkish-mainland] settlers the right to vote. This had a boomerang effect, because as is known the largest proportion of settlers voted for Eroglu.

(Izzet Izcan) Correct.

We will also talk more about this matter later.

I have also raised this matter during meetings which I had at the European Parliament. We are faced with the following situation - the CTP 'Government' unfortunately approved the 'Immigration Law'. We did whatever we could to stop this 'law' being passed. They cooperated with the UBP and the Democracy Party and they passed this 'law'. As a result, there was a frightening increase in immigrants from Turkey. There was an increase of the order of 200,000 with the excuse that we would give them a 'legal status' and that they will then be registered. The applications for 'naturalisation' also increased.

I am not a racist - as leftwingers we love people and we don't discriminate based on identity and their origins.

As a result of this however there has been in Cyprus a dilution of our will.

During the referendum in 2004, 25% of the settlers voted no. At the next 'elections' the majority of them gave their support to Eroglu and in the last elections the CTP did not manage to get votes from this section, despite all it had done [for them].

One way or another they certainly did not vote for us.

In the 'presidential elections' the outcome was determined by the 'voters' in Famagusta, in the Karpas and in Tricomo. If we were to exclude the 12 areas where the main residents are settlers, then Talat would have won, with a majority of 53%.

Certain circles get angry when we talk about this, but the reality is that the point we have reached is that the Turkish Cypriots are a minority in the north. Until now we have been saying that the Turkish Cypriots will become a minority. Now we say that we are already a minority.

There is a lack of will - our view on the Cyprus problem, our aim for a solution, the love we feel for this country, the desire for a solution and reunification is not something which these people identify with, or at least a large section of them. Yes, a section of them may support us.

With how many 'votes' did Eroglu win in 'the elections'? With a difference of 400 'votes'! How many 'citizenships' were given to them in the last year? 1600! How many 'citizenships' are ready and waiting at this time? 6,500!

If this process continues in the same way we will not in future be able to talk about 'democratic elections' in the north, but nor about the will.

All these reasons, but also the friendly behaviour towards us ... look, despite these reasons and suppressing our feelings, having in mind the dislike for our party, we decided to act based on the logic of supporting Talat since we love this country, we want the continuation of the talks and we must keep this window open. But our support was not sufficient.

During this time, Talat had made another mistake. The way he approached the Greek Cypriot community did not help him at all. As Denktash had done, Talat constantly presented the Greek Cypriot community as 'the others'. The whole community actually, indiscriminately. Even in the criticism which he made through his repsentatives, in some of which cases he may have been right, he converted the entire matter into his propaganda about 'them and us'. This contributed to a flaring up of nationalism in the Turkish Cypriot community, of anger, and traditionally leftist voters and supporters of a solution were filled with doubts.

Our 'electorate' is 164 thousand. Of these Eroglu received 61 thousand. 103 thousand 'voters' either did not vote for Eroglu, or stayed at home. 38 thousand 'voters' did not go 'to vote'. A significantly greater part of these 'voters' belong to the democratic left and to the scholars.

When we assess all these things we see the magnitude of the despair in the Turkish Cypriot community.

Naturally, the progress which happened in the talks was not satisfactory. We could have had, and there should have been, more progress. This also caused an extra negative reaction, and so we reached this outcome.

Turkish with English subtitles: Clip 1:

Turkish with Greek subtitles: Clip 1:

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(Huseyin Halil) But Eroglu basically did not get the result he wanted.

(Izzet Izcan) Eroglu is saying that he got 50% plus of the votes. This however does not correspond to the truth.

He received 61,000 of the 164,000 of 'votes'. This corresponds to 35 to 40%. Despite everything, Talat was supported by 43% of the community. 25% of the 'electorate' stayed away from 'the elections' and that is how this result has come about. We must bear in mind all these things.

What is right at this time is for those of us who believe in a solution and peace, and who love this country, as much in the south as in the north, in [the mountains of] Troodos [in the south] and the same with those in [the mountains of] Pendadaktylos [in the north], in Limassol, in Kyrenia. We must be united and march together and to support the bicommunal talks.

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) - yes, indeed , we must see what will happen in the future....

(Huseyin Halil) Before we go to that matter, lets take a look at something else. You were recently in Brussles where you were involved in a singificant visit. Please tell us about this, and then we can look at what future action is needed.

(Izzet Izcan) I went to Brussels as the guest of the left group in the European Parliament. The item on the agenda was the Cyprus problem and future developments, and we were asked to talk about and discuss this during the meeting of the European Parliament. We were with the Secretary General of the AKEL Party, Mr Andros Kyprianou, who was to present the views of AKEL.

The President of the left group, Mr Bisky, made the introductions and we then discussed the Cyprus problem. The matter which I raised during the discussion was the population [settler] policy. This caused intense reactions in the north and the attacks against our party continue to this day.

I had said that the Turkish Cypriot community has been led to extinction and that in the longer term they will also destroy the Greek Cypriot community.

If this situation continues in the future, in ten years time when the population in the north could for example reach one million, how easy do you think it will be to reach a solution? How easy will it be to achieve a compromise between the two sides? That is what I tried to explain to them.

I analysed the 'outcome of the elections' for them. The MEPs were also asking me what you asked me. Why did this result come about? What should happen, what went wrong?

I explained all these things.

I personally asked the European Parliament to conduct a population census in the north, in the presence of international observers. I asked that in addition to the census they should help in the creation of an investigative committee which would examine the policy of naturalisation and put an end to this process.

I asked them the following:

Are we, as Turkish Cypriots, European citizens? They answered me with a yes.

According to the Protocol, the north constitutes European territory? They answered yes.

Are we therefore your citizens?

It is the whole of Cyprus which territorially belongs to the European Union.

There is a violation of human rights.

We have reached a time when the Turkish Cypriots are facing annihilation. The identity, the culture and its very existence.

Do you have no responsibility, no authority?

Will you continue to be spectators?

Will our annihilation affect negatively the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, and put in danger the whole of Cyprus?

We placed all these matters on the table.

They were very angry with this because we demolished certain stereotypes, we went outside the confines of the official policy. We will continue to do this.

In a television program I took part in a few days ago in the north I explained that we are doing what we are doing because we love Cyprus, we have respect for Turkish Cypriots and we want to unite all of Cyprus. But if the existing situation continues, and if the opponents of the solution continue their attacks, and I see with sorrow that in the south the government and AKEL, and Christofias, are being attacked by the conservatives as I call those who benefit from the continuation of the existing situation ... they demand the immediate withdrawal of the proposal for a rotating presidency, for a weighted vote. Note that those are the same things wanted by the nationalists on the Turkish Cypriot side. They also do not accept.

There is therefore an unholy alliance between the opponents of a solution on both sides.

We must oppose this and overturn this.

(Huseyin Halil) What did the Europeans answer you?

(Izzet Izcan) As far as I could determine, the Europeans are saying the following:
"You the Cypriots will solve the problem, if you take steps towards a solution we will support you".

That is what they say. I countered to them with the following:

"This situation does not concern only the two communities, it is an international problem".

Present at the meeting, along with the Europeans, were representatives of the Republic of Turkey and representatives from the north. I asked them not to victimise Cyprus during Turkey's accession process. To not allow Turkey to use the Turkish Cypriots and Cyprus in its accession negotiations.

We support Turkey's European prospects. But Turkey must fulfill its obligations, and Europe must decide whether it will accept it.

Let them not use us because we are a separate state.

We in Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots want to live in brotherhood and peacefully with our neighbours. But here there is an injustice and the European Union has its own duties and responsibilities in this.

We placed all these issues on the table. I believe that it was necessary for us to say all these things.

What do I ask of Cypriots, irrespective of their background ... is for us not to see each other as enemies. We are no one's enemies. We are simply victims of this tragedy. All of us. There are 180 thousand Greek Cypriot refugees. They have abandoned their homes and fled to the south. There are thousands of missing people. There are people who have lost their loved ones and who are still suffering.

We must all remember that neither the coup by the Greek junta, nor the Turkish invasion have solved the problem. They have not lessened the pain in Cyprus. On the contrary they have further complicated the situation and we have been relegated to being a small part of the whole problem.

All us Cypriots must understand this. We must help each other and to unite their energies to find a solution.

What form will this solution have?

The United Nations Security Council has presented the parameters of a solution, the agreements of July and May show this clearly: Bizonal Bicommunal Federation on the basis of political equality, but ensuring a single citizenship, single sovereignty and territorial integrity. The way we will arrive at this solution is through negotiation.

Can there be an ideal solution?

The answer is No. We can only achieve the feasible, and that which is feasible we must find jointly.

But, if the other side insists wanting to discuss on the basis of two states, two separate nations and two separate peoples, while on the other side in the name of patriotism certain members of the National Council continue to insist that there can not be a Turkish Cypriot president, that they do not accept weighted voting, that too many concessions have been made and that these should be withdrawn - I see that as Cyprus we will have big problems.

(Huseyin Halil) we would now like your views about the process of the talks. The talks begin again on 26th May. Do you think there will be changes to the positions of the two sides?

(Izzet Izcan) For the last 5 years, since the referendum, the AKP has followed a strategic and tactically realistic policy. This policy envisaged that Turkey would remain one step ahead.

However this is not a policy to find a speedy solution. There is no such thing as a speedy solution of the problem. We will remain one step ahead and we will expose the Greek Cyprioit side, they said. They did this successfully until Mr Christofias came to power. The balance has changed.

With the correct policy, the policy of one-step-ahead can be exposed. However, what we need is not being steps ahead, but a solution.

Can Mr Eroglu escape from the policy established by Ankara?

The answer is no.

We however know very well that Mr Eroglu fundamentally wants a confederal solution and two separate states which would be in accordance with the founding document of his Party.

What he will try to do is to gain time. He will continue the talks and try to gain time so that Turkey's accession negotiations can continue unhindered.

Spoken in Turkish with subtitles in Ebglish: clip2

Spoken in Turkish with subtitles in Greek: clip 2

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(Christodoulos Christodoulou) To what extent can Turkey impose its views on Eroglu? To impose its positions?

(Izzet Izcan) It can impose its will.

Turkey is a big and powerful country and it has great influence in the north. It has 40 thousand troops, it controls the north economically and it has hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens in the north. Turkey can impose its positions.

Eroglu dared try to oppose Turkey during the referendum and he paid a heavy price.

What Eroglu will do now is to appear conciliatory, to be at the negotiations table biding time and waiting for the Deep State and the opponents of the AKP to increase their power at the next elections in Turkey. That is why he has softened now and declares that he accepts the agreements which have already been achieved. He expresses disagreement only about the content of these agreements.
Consequently, it seems that this procedure will continue.

Except that we do not simply want the talks to continue, but for the discussion of the remaining chapters to be completed as soon as possible, and for the speeding up of the process so that a solution can be reached as soon as possible.

All Cypriots must understand this and we must all together contribute to achieving this, because time works works at the expense of Cyprus.

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) Exactly, and though We all know approximately, and you have outlined the positions which Eroglu is expected to follow in the negotiations, so, what hopes are there? Knowing his positions?

(Izzet Izcan) Mr Eroglu may be thinking of following such a policy, and Turkey may want him to follow such a policy, the question however is what do other parties in the game want? What do you want? What do those viewing us want? What does the Greek Cypriot side want? Do we really want a speedy solution to the Cyprus problem or are we just biding our time with the hope that we will achieve some 'ideal' solution?

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) The President of the Republic has shown he wants that which he said from the beginning, from the time two years ago when he was elected. He was very clear about what he wants, and that he really wants a solution. I don't know if you agree with me. Now, if there are certain other voices among the Greek Cypriots ... they are there, and you are quite right in what you say, but the official voice is that of the President of the Republic.

(Izzet Izcan) The President of the Republic has said that he wants a united Cyprus, that he wants a Federal solution.

In the three chapters, such as the chapter on governance and distribution of powers a large degree of convergence has been achieved.

However, I see what is happening now in the National Council. I hear what EDEK is saying, what EVROKO is saying and also DIKO which has not yet clarified the extent to which it is with the government as well as the contradictory statements by its Secretary General and of the President of DIKO ... also the double stand which DISY holds. We must talk about these things openly. At this moment the Greek Cypriot side does not present a united position.

(Huseyin Halil) In your meetings with party representatives have you confronted them, do you say these things to them openly?

(Izzet Izcan) We do say these things, and we express our discomfort. We are now used to these recordings. In the north we have seen many such. This introversion and backtracking is intended to influence public opinion and to achieve a benefit in some possible future electoral confrontation. All these things do not benefit Cyprus at all.

I would, with sorrow, at this time want to say the following ... if Mr Marios Garoyian has the right to be elected president of the repubic, if he is elected by the people, why should Izzet Izcan not also have this right? Why should you, or someone else not have this right? What do we gain if we convert this into a matter for debate?
Whom do we want in the presidency of the republic? Someone who believes in a united Cyprus, who loves our country, who will be the president of all Cypriots, who will not discriminate between people, who will serve Cyprus.

Who is it that is upset by 'weighted voting'?

I will be very happy if with weighted voting the Greek Cypriots get the right to determine by 20% our leader. Because I believe that the Greek Cypriots will contribute through their vote to the election of a democratic, progressive leader who loves our country. And we will do the same.

But who is it that react however? The Party of National Unity. Our nationalists and other such nationalists. No, they say, a Turkish Cypriot should not have a say in the election of the president.

We will get past these things. The world, Europe, have got past such things, and we will also.

We have to say openly - do we want peace or do we not want it?

We can not achieve peace by putting each-other down.

If we united our energies we can all win together. If we make this a tenet of our policy then our task will be much easier.

Otherwise Turkey will continue its accession process to the EU. However many years that may take. They themselves speak about 2023. Turkey is in no hurry. We must all understand this. That is how the problem will be perpetuated.

Do you believe that if the population [in the north] exceeds a million it will be easy for anyone to force them to leave?

Do you have the impression that if the exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties continues in the north, if there is investment on them, that the Europe of Capitalism will want any buildings demolished and the land given back to their owners?

Things will become even more difficult.

That is why it is significant for us to unite our energies to build a more beautiful country for all. We must help each other. To understand that we Cypriots are brothers, we are the true owners of this country. As far as the problem is concerned, it is not us. There may be some problems between us, but we must understand that it is an international problem.

(Huseyin Halil) We have come to the end of our time.

(Izzet Izcan) Thank you.

I continue to be optimistic. We must not lose our morale. It is the duty of us all together to unite our country as a free, independent, sovereign federation so we can secure a better tomorrow for our children. But if the confrontation between us continues, we will all be lost together.

(Christodoulos Christodoulou) Holding onto that message, we thank you very much for having been with us today.

(Izzet Izcan) I thank you.

Spoken in Turkish with subtitles in English: clip 3

Spoken in Turkish with subtitles in Greek: clip 3


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President Christofias reviews Cyprus reunification efforts

The content of this event was all in Greek, though the first clip in this playlist provides some sections spoken in English

Cyprus President Christofias - Reviews Efforts to Reunite Cyprus and its People

Public Meeting,
15th May 2010.

Organised by:
The National Federation of Cypriots in the United Kingdom,
Britannia Road, London, N12 9RU.
Tel: 020 8445 9999 Fax: 020 8445 9977,

Introductory welcome by Secretary of the National Federation Andreas Karaolis, and formal introduction by President of the National Federation Peter Droussiotis.

The presentation by President Christofias was followed by a Question and Answer session.

The full video of the event is available for online viewing, for downloading in order to view offline, and for embedding in website pages from links available at:

Alexander Downer on Resumed Cyprus talks - EPP President Martens on Cyprus problem

(This blog item was delayed from early May)

Cyprus news in English Greek and Turkish reports UN special representative to Cyprus Alexander Downer having a meeting with newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Dervish Eroglu who has agreed to resume reunification talks on the basis of a Federal one state solution to the Cyprus problem as specified in UN resolutions. Also EPP European People’s Party leader and former Prime Minister of Belgium Wilfried Martens visited Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and speaks against lifting trade restrictions with Turkish occupied Cyprus, reiterates support for a Federal solution to the Cyprus problem and calls on Turkey to demonstrate its goodwill towards a Cyprus solution by withdrawing Turkish troops from the island

CyBC News in English 3rd May 2010

Newdcaster: In northern Cyprus, the UN Secretary General's special adviser on the Cyprus issue Alexander Downer met for the first time with the new Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Dervis Eroglu. Mr Downer said he had made clear to Mr Eroglu that the UN desired the continuation of direct settlement talks from where they left off and on the basis of Security Council resolutions referred to in the joint Christofias-Talat statements of May 23rd and July 1st last year as well as convergences between the two. The UN official said he had made clear that the goal of the talks would be a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality as envisaged in Security Council resolutions and a single international personality. According to Mr Downer the Turkish Cypriot leader told him he would be happy for the talks to continue on this basis and this, as he said, satisfies the UN. Time is of major importance Downer added, and the process can not become open-ended. Downer said that for the talks to resume he (Eroglu) must first conclude the organising of his team on the Cyprus issue, consider documents and prepare his positions. He expressed the view that talks may resume in late May or early June but that he must first hold talks with President Christofias scheduled for tomorrow. Dervis Eroglu said that the process would continue from the point where Mr Christofias and Talat left off and noted that the UN suggested a May 26th resumption. He expects to have contacts in Turkey in the next few days.

Downer: "I went through the exact language with Mr Eroglu, and that is from the United Nations point of view, these negotiations are directed towards achieving a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality and a single international personality, and he is satisfied with that as the basis on which these negotiations can continue, so I can't ask for more than that."

Downer: "We have not specified time lines in the United Nations, but this process just can't be allowed to drag on indefinitely.

(Translated from the Greek) - Eroglu stated that he wishes for the negotiations to be completed within a period of time with a view for the solution to then go to a referendum. He also told Mr Downer his position regarding the lifting of the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and said that both sides must approach the negotiations with a will to reach a settlement.

Eroglu (speaking in Turkish, translated from the Greek subtitles provided in the newsbroadcast): It is felt that the negotiations can begin on 26th May. That is the date when the talks can begin, and we will be talking with Mr Christofias. Our wish is for the talks to begin and for a settlement to be reached on the completion of the talks."

(Translation from the Greek report continues:) Before the end of May Mr Eroglu as well as Mr Downer will visit Ankara for talks with the Turkish leadership. Mr Downer will have a meeting with Mr Christofias tomorrow.

(News itm in Turkish was not transcribed)

[The video clip continues with extracts from the CyBC news broadcasts on 4th May]

Transcript of CyBC News in English - 4th May 2010

The United Nations are set to fix the date for the resumption of negotiations aimed at reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem. The talks were interrupted for almost two months because of an election in the occupied areas which resulted in a new leader taking over as Turkish Cypriot negotiator. Alexander Downer told reporters today after meeting President Christofias that the two sides seem happy to resume negotiations in the week starting on May the 24th. He added the exact date will be worked out, but that the most possible date for starting the meetings would be around the 26th.

Mr Downer yesterday met the new Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu who later said he is ready to resume talks from the point they were left off by his predecessor Mehmet Ali Talat.

Downer said that Eroglu had accepted three preconditions spelled out by the United Nations for the resuming of peace talks. These are that the talks will be conducted on the basis of UN resolutions on Cyprus, they will take into account joint statements by President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat earlier this year which detailed progress so far, and they will resume from the point they left off before the interruption.

Downer: "On the basis of the parameters defined by the United Nations, the two statements that the two sides issued on the 23rd of May and 1st of July 2008 and on the basis that the talks should pick up from the where they left off earlier this year."

Downer: "Sovereignty is a ... the expression that is used by the United Nations is a single international personality. That's one Cyprus in the sense that there is one Cypriot passport, one Cyprus mission to the United Nations"

(Note: much controversy followed on the point of 'sovereignty' as thus defined in this statement)

Downer: "We asked Mr Eroglu to confirm his committment to Security Council resolutions and to the parameters of these talks. "

Transcribed from the same English News broadcast:

European People's Party President Wilfred Martens has expressed support for a comrehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. Talking to reporters after meeting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias Martens said the solution should be based on UN Security Council resolutions and EU principles. He said the solution must be reached by direct negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus. He urged Turkey to create a suitable climate for negotiations by withdrawing Turkish forces and allowing free negotiations between the leaders of the two communities. Martens said he also opposed moves in the European Parliament to activate a regulation allowing direct trade between the occupied part of Cyprus and the European Union. He said the European People's Party and its political group in the European Parliament will fight activation of the regulation because such a move would be a real danger to a negotiated solution to the Cyprus problem.

Martens: "We are trying to have a consensus between the main political forces in the European Parliament to oppose this, and to delete that regulation. Also the President here (Christofias) was very firm on this. It would be not only as I said a burden, but also a catastrophe when you try to come to a negotiated solution.

(Extract from the Greek news broadcast on 5th May not translated - it repeats the basic content of the news item in English)


European People’s Party (EPP Wilfried Martens)

EPP European People’s Party leader and former Prime Minister of Belgium Wilfried Martens speaks on Cyprus CyBC TV against lifting trade restrictions with Turkish occupied Cyprus, reiterates support for a Federal solution to the Cyprus problem and calls on Turkey to demonstrate its goodwill towards a Cyprus solution.

Transcript of CyBC Interview broadcast 5th May 2010 on Apo Mera se Mera

Interviewer: Mr President, I'd like to start in a somewhat unorthodox manner -- your book is called "I struggle I overcome" -- here in Cyprus we've been trying to overcome our problem for the past 4 - 5 decades. How do you see the current prospects of the ongoing dialogue that's about to resume in late May or early June. How do you see Turkey's role in it and that of other actors involved?

Martens: It is a long period without a solution, there were several times when people tried to find a solution. The role of Turkey is extremely essential and I am convinced that if Turkey is ready to really negotiate and to accept this global [comprehensive] process of negotiation - that would be a very important argument also for the fundamental question for Turkey, the accession to the European Union. Without a solution for Cyprus, without a global [comrehensive] solution, a decision on the accession negotiations of Turkey to the European Union has to be confirmed by each member state, so I don't see a possibility that every member state of the European Union will accept an eventual accession of Turkey without a solution for Cyprus.

Question: What is the difference do you think that the new leadership of the Turkish Cypriots makes? We've heard Mr Eroglu reiterate his positions on two states and lifting of the so-called isolation and direct trade. What are your views on that and how will that affect the process that is ongoing?

Martens: I don't know the newly elected leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. I don't know him. In any case, I think it is impossible to accept the premises that there have to be two different states. So I think that only a negotiated solution could be a Federation between the two communities of Cyprus, and not two different independent states in the sense of confederation. And also, the United Nations have said always that in the global [comprehensive] solution you need to create a federation of the two communities.

Question: As former Prime Minister of Belgium you are very well aware of how a federation can work or cannot work. What would you advise two communities seeking a federation?

Martens: In Belgium, I was during thirty years as political leader of my party, and during 12 years as Prime Minister. Under my direction the Belgian unitarian state was transformed to a federal state, and we have three communities and three regions in Belgium - we have the Flemish community, the French-speaking community and the German-speaking community. But I can see also in Belgium people which are not happy with this solution are always speaking about confederation. And so, to create different states -- I call them mini-states, and that is the centre of Europe -- it is unbelievable for me and you can not do that. I remember that there was once a confederation between Egypt and Syria but after a short period this confederation also collapsed. And speaking about Switzerland as a confederation - take the constitution of Swtizerland, it is a Federal state. So this is the only solution, confirmed also in the resolutions of the United Nations. So it is a very - it is an impossible point to start with the conception that there have to be created two different independent states in Cyprus. No. We have to negotiate on a federation between the two communities.

If Turkey really wants to create the conditions for a positive conclusion on the negotiations to become a member of the European Union they have to use their influence also concerning this process of negotiation on Cyprus.

Question: What do you think is the purpose of Turkey's move in the European Parliament on the direct trade regulations and why do you think that certain European forces have accepted this regulation and a few words on the legality of this regulation.

Martens: So. We are convinced - we in the European People's Party and our political group in the European Parliament - that this type of action, and to accept this regulation in the European Union will disturb the global [comprehensive] process, the process of negotiation. So we are against it because it will disturb the process of negotiations . And in any case, our political group in the European Parliament opposed it. If you do not have a majority, in any case, we will ask that this draft regulation will be discussed also in the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament.

Question: Why do you think - and I obviously don't want to put you in a spot - but why do you think the Commission chose to promote this direct trade regulation, particularly at this point in time when there are ongoing negotiations?

Martens: It is a consequence of the Treaty of Lisbon, but the Commission - and I am little bit amazed did not maintain a lot of other obsolete draft regulations - I think that the office of the former responsible Commissioner Olli Rehn proposed it - but I am amazed about this because we are convinced that this will not help the process of negotiation.

Question: How do you see the prospect of this direct trade regulation going forward? Do you think it will be blocked at a legal level?

Martens: Well - it depends on the majority in the European Parliament. We are the strongest group in the European Parliament, the EPP Group, but have not an absolute majority. It will depend on the vote, if they have to vote. But they can also try to have a consensus decision in the European Parliament.

In our Political Group, the leadership of our group, will certainly try to have a consensus between the main political forces of the European Parliament - not to disturb the process of negotiations.

Question: Do you think that Ankara's move also has to do with promoting its own accession aspirations, in that way trying to connect the issues with the Cyprus problem?

Martens: Yes. My first answer to you was that one of the fundamental approaches for Turkey to create a good climate - there is now some progress in the negotiation on accession of Turkey - but to create a good mentality, to create a new atmosphere, a positive atmosphere is extremely important for the Turks to give a positive signal - otherwise there will be no real progress in the negotiations concerning Turkey's accession.