Downer says if Cyprus is not reunified Turkey could never join the EU

Under the title “Alexander Downer: If the Cyprus problem is not solved, Turkey could never become member of the EU”, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (15.05.11) reports that Alexander Downer, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor for Cyprus, has said that Turkey could not become a member of the European Union (EU), if Cyprus is not reunified through a bi-zonal bi-communal federation.

In an exclusive interview with Yeni Duzen, Downer noted that a solution in Cyprus could be “a development which will guarantee Turkey’s accession into the EU”. Noting that Cyprus is an extremely big obstacle in Turkey’s accession into the EU, Downer said a solution on the island would be very helpful in the relations between Turkey and Greece and the stability in Eastern Mediterranean.

Referring to the tripartite meeting to be held in July between the Cypriot leaders and the UN Secretary-General, Downer said their view (UN’s view) is that this meeting should be really substantive. He noted that the meeting will not be held in order for the UN Secretary-General “to take inventory”, adding that this is a meeting held for “strengthening the process” on concrete points. He said the expectation of the UN is for a momentum to be created for the intensification of the process in the remaining period of this year.

Downer argued that the elections are “one of the factors which bring this process closer to an end”. “We expect the sides to come with a methodology and a plan which will conclude these negotiations”, said Downer expressing the hope that the sides will be able to do this.

Downer said the sides might have different opinions and dreams, but the choices in Cyprus are limited. He recalled that the UN Secretary-General had stated that reconciliation should be reached in Cyprus and added that Cyprus could be unified only through a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation on the basis of political equality and a single international identity. “I think that the leaders understand this”, he noted.

Asked whether the UN has a definite timetable regarding the negotiations, Downer said they do not set a definite timetable, but they say that the momentum should not be lost. “If we could not reach a federal solution, the momentum will be lost”, he argued. Downer referred to the interruption of the talks because of the “elections” in the occupied area of Cyprus and the change in the Turkish Cypriot leadership with Eroglu’s win. He said parliamentary elections will also be held in the government-controlled areas of Cyprus and Turkey and added that the Cyprus presidency of the EU Council and the presidential elections in the government-controlled area will follow. All these, he added, makes holding in-depth negotiations difficult.

Asked whether the UN is determined to carry out this process until the end, Downer pointed out that the UN will continue encouraging the sides to reach an agreement, but it is obvious that the international organization does not deal with this problem only, as there are many problems in the world. He noted that Cyprus is not the only important problem in the world and that there are other important problems. He said the Cypriots should solve their problem and if they could not do this, the international community will focus on other problems in the world.

Responding to a question on a possible international conference regarding the Cyprus problem, Downer said an international conference might be held in the end of the process for the discussion of the international aspects of the problem. He noted that this conference might give acceleration to the process, but this is something which will happen in the end.


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