European Parliament President Calls for New Effort to Reunify Cyprus

European Parliament President Josep Borrell called on Wednesday (5 October) for a new effort to end the 31-year division of Cyprus.

“I think we have to use the momentum created by the opening of negotiations with Turkey in order to (launch) a new initiative on a Cyprus settlement,” Borrell said during a visit to the Turkish Cypriot part of the Mediterranean island. “We would like the talks between the two sides to start again to find a solution that could be acceptable for both communities.”

The latest international effort to reunify Cyprus ended in failure in April 2004, when the Greek Cypriot community overwhelmingly rejected the peace plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The majority of the Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the blueprint, but only the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot part of the island joined the EU on 1 May 2004.

Borrell, who began a fact-finding tour of Cyprus on Monday, reiterated the EU legislature’s backing for Annan’s plan and its regret over the Greek Cypriots’ rejection of the proposed deal, which envisioned a loose federation of two equal component states.

“As you know the European Parliament supported strongly the Annan plan,” the EP head said at a news conference Wednesday following talks with Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Serdar Denktah, and other officials. “We were disappointed by the fact the Greek Cypriot community did not approve it. We still think this plan is a basis to be taken into consideration.”

Borrell arrived in the island’s Turkish Cypriot north Wednesday after two days of talks with Greek Cypriot officials, including President Tassos Papadopoulos.

“We’re ready to do everything necessary to restart negotiations based on the Annan plan and for the reunification of the island by reaching a resolution,” Talat told reporters. He hailed the EP’s recent decision to establish a special contact group aimed at strengthening the legislature’s links with the Turkish Cypriots.

“As Turkish Cypriots we did everything necessary for a solution,” the AP quoted Talat as saying.

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