Baku Today, Azerbaijan
April 30 2004

Former FA Aide Warns Not To Recognize Turkish Cypriots

Baku Today 30/04/2004 12:38

Azerbaijan's recognition of Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC)
would lead to its losing Nagorno-Karabakh, a former presidential aide
on foreign affairs, told the Baku Today on Thursday.

Vafa Guluzade, who now heads Caspian Political Researches Center,
said the statement President Ilham Aliyev made while in Turkey on
April 15 was an `emotional' one.

President Aliyev promised that his country would recognize the
Turkish Cypriot side if the latter approves and Greeks reject UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan's reunification plan. Aliyev said if the
latter happens, a new situation would emerge over the Cyprus problem.

But Guluzade believes that in no way should Azerbaijan go for
recognition of TRNC under the current circumstances.

Guluzade pointed out that although Armenia is occupying
Nagorno-Karabakh for more than past ten years, even Yerevan has not
recognized the self-proclaimed republic of Karabakh. He believes that
if Baku were to recognize TRNC now, Armenia would immediately
recognize Karabakh. Greece, Russia and even some countries that are
under Moscow's influence would also follow.

`Azerbaijan's recognition of Turkish Cypriots would mean that the
country itself signs down to give up Nagorno-Karabakh,' Guluzade
stressed.

Final results of the referendum that was held on both sides of the
divided Mediterranean island said 76 percent of Greek Cypriots said
`no' and 24 percent `yes' to Annan's plan. The Turkish Cypriot vote
was 65 percent `yes' and 35 percent `no.'

The plan stipulated that should both sides failed to agree to
reunification, only Greek Cypriots would join the European Union on
May 1. All EU laws and benefits now will apply only to the Greek side
of the island.

The Greeks' `no' vote caused wide international criticism.

The UN Security Council expressed disappointment on Thursday that
Cypriots missed "an extraordinary and historic opportunity" to
reunify their divided island and reiterated its strong support for a
political settlement.

Council members said they respected the outcome of Saturday's
referendums, which saw Turkish Cypriots approving a UN reunification
and Greek Cypriots
rejecting it.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher `blasted' Greek
Cypriot leaders while praising the Turkish Cypriots, according to the
Associated Press.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the
island in the wake of an abortive coup by supporters of union with
Greece.