South is waiting for positive response from TRNC: Venizelos

As talks continue for a diplomatic solution on Cyprus, Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos has stressed that the Greek Cypriots were waiting for a “positive response” from the Turkish Cypriots to recent proposals, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.

Venizelos was talking, inter alia, about improving relations between mainland Greece and Turkey and the need to strengthen ties to improve stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“Our firm position is that an agreed, comprehensive, viable, functional and just solution can be reached based on the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and the European acquis. In the present phase, we are awaiting an exchange of proposals from both sides on all the issues in the talks, as has been agreed on. We also think it would be positive if there was a favourable response from the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish sides to the very constructive proposals made by Cypriot President [Nicos] Anastasiades for the adoption of confidence-building measures, with the focus on the opening of Famagusta,” he said.

He also pointed to the importance of Cyprus in Turkey’s EU accession process. “Of course, the implementation the long-awaited Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement, and the normalization of Turkey’s relations with the Republic of Cyprus, would impart significant momentum to Turkey’s European perspective. Greece continues to support systematically and sincerely this perspective, so long as Turkey meets its accession obligations,” Venizelos said.

He also linked the Cyprus solution to the question of minority rights on the island. “I would like to note that the implementation of the Additional Protocol, the normalization of Turkey’s relations with the Republic of Cyprus, compliance in practice with the principle of good neighbourly relations, and respect for fundamental rights – including religious freedoms and minority rights – are prerequisites for the accession of every candidate country; prerequisites that all the member states have agreed on.

Consequently, they concern not only Greece and Cyprus, but the EU as a whole. The EU’s calls for the meeting of these terms and prerequisites should be taken as an opportunity for the promotion of democratic reforms and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as for the practical manifestation of good neighbourly relations,” he said.

“Respect for international law – and particularly for the Law of the Sea – and the achievement of a just and viable solution on the Cyprus issue, in accordance with the U.N. Security Council resolutions, could really change the regional state of affairs, making the Eastern Mediterranean a pole of regional stability that could contribute to European energy security. It would also bolster growth, create new jobs, and contribute to the promotion of regional cooperation,” Venizelos added.

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