Monday, 24 May 2010

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.

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