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EU leaders call for Cyprus solution

Erdogan (left) at EU headquarters in Brussels with Van Rompuy (centre) and Barroso

By Jean Christou

EU LEADERS on Tuesday threw their weight behind calls for movement on Cyprus following a meeting in Brussels with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and ahead of today’s Security Council briefing by UN envoy Alexander Downer.

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy spoke of the urgent need to find a Cyprus solution at a joint news conference with Erdogan.

Both EU leaders said a Cyprus solution would have a positive outcome on Turkey’s EU course, which was one of the issues discussed in Brussels along with trade, energy, counter-terrorism, the crisis in Syria, and the political situation in Turkey.

“We also agreed on the urgent need to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue,” said Barroso of his meeting with Erdogan. “This is surely in our common interest, and a decisive move in this field would no doubt also be conducive to progress in Turkey`s wider relations with the European Union. Progress in this matter is of fundamental importance. This is a message that we have been conveying also to the parties in Cyprus,” he said.

Van Rompuy urged all parties to resume negotiations as soon as possible.

Erdogan said Turkey was committed to progress on Cyprus. “We will continue in this direction with Mr [Nicos], hoping that there will be a positive approach on behalf of southern Cyprus, because this would be beneficial for all, for Cyprus, and for Turkey as an EU candidate country,” Erdogan said.

President Nicos Anastasiades, pre-empting Erdogan’s visit to the Belgian capital, had spoken by phone with Van Rompuy on Monday, and on Tuesday  with Barroso plus European Parliament President Martin Schulz to brief them on efforts to reach a deal on the joint statement aimed at kickstarting stalled Cyprus talks.

The lack of a joint statement is also likely to be in focus in New York on Wednesday when Downer, is expected to brief the UN Security Council during an informal session on the Secretary General`s Good Offices Mission.

Downer will meet UN officials earlier Wednesday, and on Thursday he will meet representatives of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, as well as the representative of the Turkish Cypriots.

Downer left Cyprus last week, after getting nowhere on bridging the gap between the two sides on the elusive statement, although contacts are ongoing with the chief negotiators of both sides. The UN envoy has also found himself increasingly at odds with the Greek Cypriot side after Anastasiades recently suggested in an interview that he was not objective.

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