Former UN envoy De Soto urges EU to end KKTC’s isolation;
Alvaro de Soto, the UN secretary-general’s former special adviser on Cyprus, has said the European Union should, as promised, end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots to help find a lasting solution to the problems on the long-divided island.
Mr de Soto stated that it would only be fair for the EU live up to its promises to the Turkish inhabitants of northern Cyprus. Noting that he believes that the EU should comply with its commitments to the Turkish Cypriots, he said this would drive Turkey to open its ports to traffic from Greek Cyprus. Turkey refuses to do so as long as theTurkish Cypriots continue to be subjected to isolation, which the EU had promised to end following the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan plan in 2004 while the Turkish side overwhelmingly approved it.
The former UN envoy argued that one reason that prompted the Greek Cypriots to reject the Annan plan aimed at reunifying the island six years ago could be that they felt they were in an advantageous position because they were going to join the EU. He added that another reason was that the Greek Cypriots did not study the plan as carefully as the Turkish Cypriots and were therefore not completely aware of what it would have meant for them.
De Soto also assessed the prospects of resolving the issue through the bilateral talks initiated by Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and former Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) President Mehmet Ali Talat on Sept. 3, 2008. Talat was unseated by Dervis Eroglu at the presidential elections held a month ago.
He said both sides have agreed to a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal state solution as a compromise, though it was not either side’s preference. Stating that the parties have agreed to terms of reference for the talks, he said:“There is a new basis. I see that even Mr. Eroglu has agreed to continue on the same basis. They are pursuing a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution, the results of which would have to be a state of single international legal personality and sovereignty, and that is in conformity with the Annan plan as far as I can tell.” He added that it is a “good thing” to see Eroglu pledge to continue the talks from where they left off. Christofias and Eroglu are scheduled to hold the 72nd meeting of the reunification talks on May 26.
De Soto lastly discussed the reason for his resignation from his last post at the UN in 2007 as the special coordinator for the Middle East peace process. He said he resigned because the UN refused to talk with Hamas.“In the Quartet, the UN decided not to deal with Hamas even though Hamas had been democratically elected in an election that has been praised by the observers, including the EU observers. Even though this was the case, the UN stopped dealing with the government of the Palestinian authority, and that was a mistake. I tried to get things changed, and when I was not successful, I left the UN,” he said.
17 May 2010, Monday