CYPRUS PEACE PROCESS GAINS MOMENTUM

Source: The New Anatolian
ABHaber, Belgium
Nov 20 2006

United Nations Undersecretary General Ibrahim Gambari urged Greek and
Turkish Cypriot leaders to immediately begin bilateral talks aimed
at reaching a comprehensive settlement on the island, in his letter
sent to the two leaders.

Gambari in his letter sent to both Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
(TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot administration
leader Tassos Papadopoulos, suggested meeting of the leaders at least
once in every month and beginning of direct bilateral talks up until
the end of March.

Gambari also suggested the immediate beginning of activities of
technical committees and study groups.

Speaking to reporters about Gambari's letter, TRNC Presidency
spokesperson Hasan Ercakica stated that the Turkish Cypriots welcomed
the suggestions made in the letter since they foresee the beginning
of bilateral talks to find a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus
dispute up until the first quarter of the next year.

Ercakica however expressed concerns over the success of the new round
of talks, saying, "We have reservations and concerns over the letter
since there are some ambiguous parts that could be exploited by the
Greek Cypriots and may also lead to delaying tactics. We will work
to clear these ambiguities during our upcoming consultations."

Greek Cypriot administration spokesperson Christodoulos Pashiardis,
commented on the letter saying that it concerns practical arrangements
with the aim to accelerate efforts to promote the implementation
of the July 8, 2006 Agreement, adding that "our side will respond
positively to Gambari's suggestions."

"Out steady pursuit was and remains the full implementation the
soonest possible of the July 8, Agreement, so as to open the way for
substantive negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem,"
he added.

The suggestion to begin bilateral talks between the Greek and Turkish
Cypriots was first made by TRNC President Talat in move to open way
for efforts to reach a just and comprehensive settlement on Cyprus
dispute. Although the suggestion to begin direct talks was welcomed
by the concerned parties, the process hasn't started yet.

Talat to push Annan for convincing Greek Cypriots on talks

Talat will meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today in Geneva,
where he will push the secretary-general to convince Papadopoulos
for the immediate beginning of direct talks.

Talat is also expected to ask Annan, the United Nations' contribution
to the ports and Maras issues which create obstacles for Turkey's
bid to join the European Union. While asking for UN contribution in
the issues, Talat is expected to underline that finding a solution
to those two issues is the issue area of the UN, not the EU.

Turkey's refusal to open its ports and harbors to the Greek Cypriots
risks the country's progress in EU talks. According to the EU progress
report on Turkey and strategy paper released on Nov 8, the leaders
of the 25-nation bloc will make a suggestion over whether Turkey's
refusal to open ports will negatively affect the relations during
their meeting in mid-December. Ankara says that it won't open its
ports and harbors to the Greek Cypriots unless the international
community ends the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. EU's decision to
throw the ball of making final decision on continuation of talks with
Turkey to the leaders' Summit also aims at keeping the door open to
a possible success of negotiations on the Finnish proposals up until
the key meeting.

While the general outlines of the Finnish proposals have been
disclosed, their details are not clear so far. As part of the deal,
the port of Magosa in TRNC would be opened to international trade
under the supervision of both the EU and UN, in exchange for handing
over control of Varosha to the UN for Greek Cypriot settlement. Then
it is expected that Turkey will open its ports to Greek Cypriots.

Talat sends letter to Barroso to clear Turkish Cypriot stance

TRNC President Talat sent on Sunday a letter to European Parliament
President Jose Manuel Barroso, in which he stressed that the process
of peace talks which began with the agreement of July 8 was initiated
by the Turkish Cypriots.

Underlining that there are some mistakes made in EU's progress
report on Turkey about the parts on Cyprus, Talat said, "Although the
report makes reference to the beginning of peace process on the island
following Annan-Papadopoulos meeting in February, actually the process
was materialized following the initiatives of the Turkish Cypriots."

Reminding the continuous calls of the Turkish Cypriots on the
establishment of a mechanism to discuss the daily issues like health,
bird flu, environment and crimes, Talat said in his letter that
the process was materialized following UN Special Envoy to Cyprus
Michael Moller's letter sent to the two sides in February to launch
the mechanism.

"Following the draft progress report was leaked to the media before its
release, despite our continuous warnings made to UN and EU officials
about the mistakes made on Cyprus, the mistakes took place in such
an important EU document. We regret it," Talat said.

Stressing that the political interests and realities on Cyprus are
misguided in order to appease the Greek Cypriots, Talat warned that the
continuation of such behavior would distance the sides from reaching
a comprehensive settlement on the island under UN auspices.

"I don't believe that the real aim of the EU in general and the
European Commission in particular would be such a development,"
he added.

Kocharian to visit Greek Cyprus

Armenian President Robert Kocharian will visit Greek Cyprus in
November, at the invitation of Greek Cypriot administration leader
Tassos Papadopoulos in order to boost bilateral ties.

Greek Cypriot administration spokesperson Christodoulos Pashiardis
said Kocharian's visit is scheduled for November 22 to 25, a visit
that is expected to draw criticism of Ankara sice Turkey doesn't
recognize Greek Cyprus and has no diplomatic relations with Armenia.