The Greek Cypriot side is determined to find a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Volkan Bozkir has said.
Following a two day working visit to Brussels on Friday, Bozkir told Turkish daily ‘Sabah’ that attitudes have changed in the South since the 2004 Annan Plan, which was rejected, in large part, by the Greek Cypriots.
He said that both Turkey and the EU want to revive Turkey’s accession process to the EU, and the Cyprus problem is the main stumbling block to that end. He also pointed to the Refugee Action Plan signed in Brussels on 29th November as a factor.
Turkey had little chance of joining the EU, Bozkir said, unless there was a settlement agreed in Cyprus.
The Turkish minister said he was optimistic about a Cyprus settlement for three reasons:
“First of all, in 2004 the Greek Cypriot leader [Tassos Papdopoulos] was opposed to reunification, but today both Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders lean towards reunification. Also, 10 years ago there existed a wealthy community on the southern side, which ensured their EU membership; but the income gap difference on the Turkish side has significantly reduced over the past 11 years. Thus, today’s situation is more suitable to unification. Secondly, the island needs clean water and we [could] provide this for them [South Cyprus]. After unification, the clean water, which is provided by Turkey, will be under the management of the island.
Lastly, gas reserves are another important subject for the island. It is difficult to connect or transport the gas without using Turkey. To conclude, these three factors and good relationships between the two sides’ presidents increase our hopes for reunification”.