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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 03-12-05
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 Erel fears difficult times for T/C if no Cyprus settlement by May 2004
Erel fears difficult times for T/C if no Cyprus settlement by May 2004
by Maria Myles
Nicosia, Dec 5 (CNA) -- Turkish Cypriots will find themselves in dire straights if there is no political settlement in Cyprus before the country joins the European Union on May 1 next year, Turkish Cypriot politician Ali Erel, leader of the ''Solution and European Union'' party, has said, pointing out that Turkey will have to accept the changes that such a development will bring.
In an interview with CNA, ahead of next week's ''parliamentary elections'' in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, he said that Turkey's role in the effort to achieve a settlement is very important, but acknowledged that there exist different approaches within Turkey which need to be dealt with.
Erel, a businessman leading the Turkish Cypriot chamber of commerce, whose newly formed party has joined forces with the two main opposition parties headed by Mehmet Ali Talat and Mustafa Akinci, is convinced that the forces which back a solution and accession will win the ''elections'' on December 14, securing more than 65 per cent of the vote.
He told CNA that these forces will appoint a new negotiator for the Turkish Cypriot community with a view at reaching a settlement by May 1, 2004.
The Turkish Cypriot businessman and politician appeared doubtful about the sincerity of Greek Cypriot intentions to negotiate a solution based on a UN plan. He claimed that once an EU member, Cyprus would feel stronger and become more demanding.
Referring to the Annan proposals for a comprehensive settlement, he said its philosophy should not be altered. At the same time he acknowledged that some things should be rectified, noting that the plan deals effectively with the thorny issues of Turkish settlers and property concerns.
Erel pointed to the need for derogations and exemptions from the EU acquis and recalled that the Union has declared it will accommodate any agreed settlement.
''I am hopeful about the election result, for sure the opposition parties will definitely get more than 65 per cent among ourselves and this will give us nearly 35 MPs out of 50,'' he said, invited to assess how the opposition parties would fare.
Asked what would happen if the pro-solution parties win, he said ''we need to change the negotiator, with Rauf Denktash it is not possible to reach any kind of agreement.''
He said ''it is not going to be easy to negotiate with the Greek Cypriot side, knowing what they want and since they talk about a lot of changes to the Annan plan''.
''Touching the main principles of the plan is not going to help anybody and there are a lot of points to be agreed on,'' he said, adding that the Greek Cypriot side would find it ''difficult to be intransigent at the negotiating table'', especially before full accession, because it would have to comply with EU behaviour.
Invited to substantiate these concerns, given that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has repeatedly declared his readiness to negotiate for a solution, he claimed that messages in public remarks by the President and Cyprus parliament President Demetris Christofias ''do not correspond to such declarations''.
He said Christofias and Papadopoulos want a new agreement to be compatible with the acquis communautaire, but he argued that the Annan plan says that any agreement based on the plan is going to be accommodated by the EU and will be part of the acquis.
The EU, he noted, will not challenge an agreement based on the plan.
Asked if he did not wish to see a settlement in line with European norms and legislation, Erel said there could be derogations and exemptions from EU acquies which can render an agreed solution ''even not compatible with the acquis but acceptable by the EU.''
He said such derogations and exemptions are necessary to help the Turkish Cypriots feel once again part of the European community and adequately safe in the international community and within a partnership with the Greek Cypriot community.
Asked to outline the changes he wishes to see in the Annan plan, he said no preconditions should be set before the start of negotiations. He did stress however that the character of the plan should not endanger the existence of the Turkish Cypriot community.
On the role of the EU in the effort for a solution, Erel believes that member states would be willing to meet realistic expectations from the two sides.
Questioned on the thorny issues of the illegal Turkish settlers and property concerns, he said ''these are well dealt with in the plan and the two communities should be in a position to compromise on property issues.''
Erel said further there is time to solve the problem by May next year because ''all the aspects of the problem have been dealt with through the years and it will not be difficult to reach a settlement.''
Asked about Turkey's role, he said Ankara's position on a settlement ''is very important'', adding that Turkey realises a solution would facilitate its relations with the EU.
''The Turkish government want a solution and progress towards EU, but there are different dynamics in Turkey which need to be handled, including the military bureaucracy and the civilian bureaucracy,'' he said.
''I am hopeful that if we get a good majority in elections, the Turkish government will take a more progressive position on a settlement,'' he remarked.
Asked to explain why there are conflicting views in Ankara, he said the present government of Tayyip Erdogan is not as supportive of Rauf Denktash as previous governments have been.
''Erdogan is walking on egg shells. It will not be easy for the government but I am sure a good election result will help Erdogan,'' he pointed out.
On the prospect of a non-solution scenario prior to accession, Erel said ''life will be very difficult for us'' noting that difficulties will arise from the changes that EU membership entails.
Turkey is a candidate for accession, Cyprus will be an EU member, the Turkish army may be seen as occupying European soil, Turkey will be able to start trade with Cyprus, the Republic of Cyprus will have the chance to open an embassy in Ankara, he explained.
''All existing positions will have to change,'' he said.
He said either Turkey will react, a scenario he did not think would happen, or accept the new changes. He warned however that Turkey may deviate from European mentality if it does not get a date for the start of its own accession negotiations.
As for the future of the peace process if there is no settlement by May 2004, he replied ''this is not going to be the end of the world for sure, people like us will carry on looking for ways and means to reach a settlement, but it will be even more difficult because the Republic of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot community will feel safer.''
Erel expressed the view that Greek Cypriots may feel ''they have a stronger hand at the negotiating table and they might just start asking for more than they are now, so all these things will not make life easier for us.''
''The most harmed party will be the Turkish Cypriots,'' he said and referred to the economic disparities between the Greek Cypriot side and the Turkish Cypriot side.
Erel appealed to Papadopoulos to ''make trust building moves instead of talking about big changes from a settlement.''
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 Bush sees real window of opportunity for Cyprus solution
Bush sees real window of opportunity for Cyprus solution
By Demetris Apokis
Washington, Dec 5 (CNA) - US President George Bush said significant progress was made until March towards finalising the Annan Plan thanks, in large part, to the efforts of the government of Cyprus.
Receiving the credentials of Cyprus' new Ambassador to Washington, Euripides L. Evriviades, Bush also said that there is now a real window of opportunity to reach a settlement before Cyprus joins the EU.
 President calls for Cyprus reference in CHOGM communique
President calls for Cyprus reference in CHOGM communique
Nicosia, Dec 5 (CNA) - The Cypriot government strongly believes that specific reference to Cyprus should be made in the Communique of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Nigeria in order to convey a strong message that the international community intends to remain actively seized of the Cyprus problem, President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos said today.
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