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Cyprus Talks

Turkish Cypriots need to react to Ankara’s actions, spokesman says

Nicos Christodoulides

Turkish Cypriots should react to Anakara’s actions in the north by pursuing reunification, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Sunday.

Speaking to journalist, Christodoulides said this was the Greek Cypriot side’s message to the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

Since the collapse of the Cyprus talks in Crans-Montana in July, Turkey as talked of plans  B and C for the north. These included unilateral measures to allow the return of Maronites to the villages, and unconfirmed reports of plans to open Varosha. On top of this Turkish Cypriot teachers recently complained about the creeping religious influences coming from Turkey, saying there were more mosques than schools in the north and more young people were being influenced into religious schools.

After Crans-Montana, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said that perhaps it was time to solve the Cyprus issue outside of UN parameters.
Christodoulides said the main obstacle to resuming the talks right now was Turkey.

“We were led to the result in Crans-Montana because of the Turkish side’s position at the negotiating table. So the continuation of negotiations depends on Turkey’s approach only,” he said.

On the developments in the north, the spokesman said the government was carefully monitoring them. “We evaluate every day,” he said.

“The message to the Turkish Cypriot forces seeking the reunification of our country is that it is time to react to all of these actions such as the prohibition of the operation in Ayios Mamas, a move designed to distance Greek and Turkish Cypriots,” the spokesman said, referring to the cancellation of services at the Morphou church this weekend because it clashed with the Islamic holiday of Kurban Bayram.

Christodoulides said the government had taken very specific steps to respond to what happened over the Ayios Mamas affair.

Asked whether it would affect the visit by Muslims from the north to the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque in Larnaca on Tuesday when Bayram wraps up, the spokesman said: “The enjoyment of religious rights is one of the most basic human rights principles and we always respect the enjoyment of religious rights in our country.”

“We are not a pseudo-government. We are Cyprus, an EU Member State and move within the framework of EU principles and values and will not pursue tactics aimed at any prohibitions on Turkish Cypriots.”

“I am convinced that the majority of Turkish Cypriots want a future in a reunified country, in an EU member state, and not a future with Turkey,” Christodoulides concluded.

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