German chancellor Angela Merkel gave her full support to President Demetris Christofias’ efforts to solve the Cyprus problem on Tuesday during a “historic” one-day visit to the island while saying that the Turkish side was not doing enough in this regard.
“We greatly appreciate your courage, creativity shown and initiative taken to solve the problem. We see that you are taking many steps and we also see that the Turkish side is not responding adequately to your steps,” said Merkel during a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace.
The German chancellor, the first to visit Cyprus 49 years after Archbishop Makarios paid an official visit to Bonn in 1962, pledged to use her contacts with Turkish officials to promote Christofias’ efforts for a solution.
Merkel urged Turkey to make progress on normalising relations with Cyprus and open its ports to traffic from the island.
Such a move, as required under a European Union agreement known as the Ankara protocol, is one of the main provisions Turkey must fulfil to join the EU.
After meeting with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, Merkel said Turkey needed to show more willingness in the resolution of its dispute with Cyprus.
Asked whether Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus was compatible with its EU accession course, Merkel replied: “We are aware of the existing difficulties and this is the reason why we placed so many restrictions in the accession negotiations.
As long as Turkey is not implementing the Ankara Protocol, no negotiating chapters can be closed or have been closed. Moreover, there are eight chapters that can not even open.”
Within hours, the Turkish press was accusing Merkel of continuing the war of words against Turkey reportedly started by Greek premier George Papandreou last Friday.
For his part, Christofias said the two leaders focused “almost exclusively” on the Cyprus problem due to the interest shown by Merkel on the subject, “something which moved me”, he said.
On Turkish accession, Christofias said: “We don’t want to hold Turkey hostage.” But at the same time Turkey cannot continue to not recognise an EU member and refuse to implement the Ankara Protocol”.
He assured Merkel that he was filled with good will to solve the problem as soon as possible, on the condition that the solution respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, as well as the human rights and basic freedoms of all people “who live in this multicultural country”.
Source: Cyprus News Agency