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Turkey’s EU minister sees Cyprus referendum by March

Left: Volkan Bozkir

Turkey foresees a referendum in Cyprus next March if the solution negotiations continue their positive path, according to its EU Minister Volkan Bozkir, it was reported on Sunday.

Bozkir told reporters that following contacts in Brussels, it appeared that in the event of a referendum, both sides would vote in favour of the agreed solution, according to the Cyprus News Agency.

He said this was because the situation now was much different than in 2004 when Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan plan in a referendum. He said the Greek Cypriot side had a leader then – Tassos Papadopoulos – who had led the ‘no’ campaign while the current leadership, Bozkir said, appeared ready for a solution. Also in 2004, Cyprus has already secured its EU membership and Greek Cypriots and were not motivated, he added.

The discovery of hydrocarbons in recent was also playing a big role, Bozakir said, adding that the possibility of Cypriot gas being piped, practically speaking, through any country other than Turkey was very small.

Bozkir said now that Turkey’s EU accession process had been re-energised, there was little the Greek Cypriots could do to stop the momentum but he did say Turkey had a plan B in case of an obstacle to its EU path “as a political necessity” and in case a Cyprus solution did not materialise.

“I believe that even if until March there is an absence of a concrete solution to the Cyprus issue, it will not be an obstacle to accession course Turkey,” he said.

In statements to the news agency Anatolia, the Turkish Minister said however that if the work on the Cyprus issue continued in the same vein as it was currently headed, the possibility of a referendum in March was good. “This time I really believe that the Cyprus problem can be resolved,” he said.

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