President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, has urged the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and the Turkish government to show understanding and take into consideration the interests of the people of Cyprus, pointing out that the Greek Cypriot side has already made painful concessions at the ongoing talks to solve the question of Cyprus.

Speaking at the opening of the Wine Festival in London, President Christofias said that “despite the promises given to the UN Secretary General during the leaders’ last meetings in New York and Geneva to deal with the fundamental aspects of the problem, the Turkish Cypriot side has failed to show goodwill”.

The talks, he added, are dragging on and “we have not achieved the progress the UN SG had anticipated, which we also expect, because the Cyprus problem is not the SG’s problem, it is our problem and we must examine carefully the substance of the issue, together with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to find solutions”.

The President described as “excuses” claims by the Turkish Cypriot side that the Greek Cypriots are procrastinating at the negotiating table because Cyprus will assume the EU presidency in the second half of 2012 and because they are looking ahead to be their re-election.

“I challenge Mr. Eroglu and the Turkish government to show the least of understanding and take into consideration the best interests of all the people of Cyprus, because our side has already made painful concessions”, he noted.

President Christofias said Eroglu “feels offended when I tell him that the Greek Cypriot side has made the biggest concession by accepting the transformation of the Cypriot state to a bizonal, bicommunal federation”.

This, Christofias stressed, is a great and historic concession by the late Archbishop Makarios (former Cyprus President) that should be taken into consideration by the Turkish side and the international community.

He explained that a bizonal, bicommunal federation implies “painful concessions from our side. The course of our lives will change within a federation. However, as I have often told the Greek Cypriots, the Cypriot state cannot be merely a Greek state. It has to be a common state with Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, without foreign interventions, including interventions by what we call our motherlands”.

He said Cyprus should be demilitarized and solve its problems in such a way so that Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins will be in charge of their country.

He repeated that his sole ambition is to reunite the country, free the people from the bonds of Turkey’s occupation, through a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which will restore the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island’s northern part. UN-sponsored peace talks are underway between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu to find a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country, under a federal roof.

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