Region Watches Cyprus Talks
As President Demetris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat meet this afternoon at 4pm in the UN protected area, regional policy makers and experts are watching carefully for any signs of progress or breakthroughs.
Greek alternate foreign minister Demetris P. Droutsas reiterated Greece's position that it supports a 'Cypriot' solution.
"A successful outcome for these talks will mean that a “Cypriot” solution is reached. After all it is Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who share a common future in Cyprus and within our European family, the European Union," said Droutsas in an interview with Athens News.
The solution should be negotiated "without undue pressure from outside, artificial timeframes, the meddling of so-called guarantors or even threats of partitioning if a solution is not reached by some hazy deadline. This is most counterproductive and undermines the ongoing efforts," said Droutsas.
He went on to say that Turkey's EU membership progress - which has been slowed by the suspension of eight chapters due to the country's refusal to recognise the Republic of Cyprus - is up to Turkey.
"Turkey has yet to implement the Additional Protocol on the Customs Union, which provides for opening its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels," said Droutsas, adding that "the only path leading to full EU membership is full implementation of the prerequisites set, full respect of international law and genuine pursuit of good neighborly relations."
Meanwhile, Turkish foreign policy expert Dr. Mensur Akgün said that it is possible that Turkey's EU membership negotiations will stop in 2010.
"It is possible, although no one wants that. Not the Greeks, not the Turks, not the French -- no one desires that. But when we look at practical developments, we move toward that direction. We may not have any chapters to negotiate," said Akgün in an interview with Today's Zaman.
He said there is a 'ray of hope' because of the Cyprus talks, but 'it is hard to expect concrete results from these talks'.
"The Greek Cypriots...do not seem to be ready to accept a fair settlement similar to the Annan Plan. They also have some preconditions such as the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island. Meanwhile, we have a very complex property problem ahead of us. The principle of bizonality conflicts with individual property rights," said Akgün.
This afternoon the leaders will discuss EU issues. One of the most pressing EU issues in Cyprus is the question of direct EU trade with the Turkish Cypriots. Currently, trade with the Turkish Cypriots can only be carried out through the Green Line regulation supervised by the government. Turkey wants direct trade between EU countries and the Turkish Cypriot community before it implements the Ankara Protocol, but this has not yet been approved by the EU Council, although financial aid of 259 million euros to the Turkish Cypriots has been contracted since 2004.