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NEW INITIATIVE BY TURKEY ON CYPRUS

(The letter of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Abdullah Gül addressed to UN Secretary General is available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Russian)

STATEMENT BY H.E. ABDULLAH GÜL, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, REGARDING TURKEY’S NEW PROPOSALS ON CYPRUS (24 JANUARY 2006)

Distinguished Members of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to address such a big press audience here today. Thank you all for coming.

It has been only three weeks since the start of the New Year.

Yet it has already become obvious that 2006 will witness a series of important developments affecting global peace, security and stability.

In this respect, the regions surrounding Turkey will continue to be the centre stage of world politics.

The way the international community is going to address the existing and emerging challenges and opportunities in this geography will shape, to a large degree, the future of coming generations.

At this crucial juncture, Turkey feels itself well-placed to substantially contribute to the peaceful settlement of disputes and addressing these challenges.

Given its multi–faceted attributes, including a strategic geographic location, an unparalleled economic dynamism and an impressive social vitality, Turkey is indeed well-equipped to make a positive impact at this important moment in history.

Progress towards EU membership and the comprehensive reforms undertaken recently to further enhance democracy have also increased our ability to contribute to the security and stability of our region. We will continue with the reform process.

In this context, our approach to all these issues unfolding around us derives from the same fundamental objective: to generate peaceful environment and stability in our wider region.

We strive to establish a culture of cooperation that seeks to resolve the problems through a win-win approach.

One may find many examples that confirm this approach in practice.

But today, I will dwell upon only one specific matter of great significance, namely the Cyprus issue, and inform you about a new initiative we launch to contribute to the peace and stability in the island. 

Why Cyprus, and why now?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The developments of 2005 have once again shown to all of us that the absence of a settlement in Cyprus is, first of all, contrary to the interests of both peoples on the Island. It has become obvious that the current status quo works against the interests of all, including the EU and the parties to the problem themselves.

So the priority should be given to finding a comprehensive settlement which would be lasting and just. Our Government maintains its conviction in that regard. Such a settlement in Cyprus under the good-offices mission of the UN Secretary General was within reach in 2004 and we believe that it is still attainable.

However, as the international community witnessed closely, despite the encouragements and best efforts of the Turkish side, the developments last year did not give the UN Secretary-General sufficient ground to re-launch a new phase of the negotiation process, which would bring about the comprehensive settlement.

The impasse seems to be continuing. But, we have noted with satisfaction that the UN Secretary-General remains engaged with the issue, and that he is prepared to re-launch the process once the conditions are suitable.

Nevertheless, the prevailing conditions should not deter us from taking concrete steps forward, which are aimed at improving the overall atmosphere in the region. Implemented in good faith, these mutually complementary measures could also pave the way for re-launching of the UN negotiation process aiming at a comprehensive settlement.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today I wish to inform you that we are coming forward with a new initiative to show once again our commitment to this objective. The Action Plan is as follows:

“The UN Secretary General is kindly invited to consider holding consultations with the parties concerned with a view to implementing the Action Plan, the principal elements of which are outlined herebelow:

1. Opening of the sea ports of Turkey to Greek Cypriot vessels serving the trade of goods in accordance with the EC-Turkey Customs Union.

2. Allowing Greek Cypriot air carriers to use the Turkish air space for over-flights and to land at the Turkish airports in accordance with relevant international rules and procedures.

3. Opening of the ports in North Cyprus, including Gazimagosa, Girne, and Gemikonağı to international traffic of goods, persons and services under Turkish Cypriot management.

4. Opening of Ercan airport for direct flights under the Turkish Cypriot management.

5. Special arrangements for the practical inclusion of North Cyprus, as an economic entity, into the European Union’s customs union. Unhindered direct trade between both sides of the Island as well as with the outside world.

6. Participation of the Turkish Cypriot side in international sports, cultural and other social activities.

We propose the following procedural steps for the implementation:

7. A high level meeting is to be convened no later than May/June 2006 under the auspices of the UN with the participation of Turkey, Greece, the Turkish Cypriot side and the Greek Cypriot side with a view to finalizing the draft action plan which will be implemented as an integrated whole within an agreed time frame.

8. The action plan and outcome of the meeting are to be submitted by the UN Secretary General to the UN Security Council. The UN Secretary General may wish to establish a mechanism to keep the implementation of the plan under review, with a view to regularly reporting any development to the Security Council.

9. The assistance, particularly to the Turkish Cypriot side, of the UN and the EU Commission will help facilitate the implementation of the proposed measures.

10. The action plan will, in no way, prejudice legal and political positions of the parties concerned. It is aimed at bringing about an environment of cooperation and mutual trust with a comprehensive settlement perspective to the Cyprus issue.

In this respect, Turkey remains committed to the efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem within the framework of UN Secretary-General’s mission of good offices and on the basis of the UN Secretary General’s settlement plan. Turkey earnestly hopes that an agreement on the comprehensive settlement will be reached in 2006.”

We propose an Action Plan to be adopted and implemented in earnest as a whole. The gist of this proposal is the elimination of all restrictions for both sides in Cyprus, providing substantial benefits to all parties and promoting socio-economic development by reducing disparities.

The Action Plan is not a substitute for a mutually acceptable political solution. The fundamental objective remains a comprehensive settlement. Yet, this initiative has a strong potential to bring about a process that would facilitate a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus question.

Neither does our proposal prejudice the respective legal and political positions of the relevant parties concerned. I wish to emphasize this point in particular.

The proposed Action Plan is based on the main idea of rapprochement amongst all. It is so devised that the relevant parties take mutual and complementary steps towards each other, gradually creating an environment of mutual trust and cooperation. The new initiative has been built on the premises laid down by our suggestions of 30 May 2005.

Under the Action Plan, Turkish sea ports and airports will be opened to Greek Cypriot sea vessels and air carriers. Likewise the sea ports and the airport in North Cyprus will be opened to international traffic.

The practical arrangements should envisage, under an established time-table, the removal of all obstacles to the free movement of goods, persons and services, including restrictions on means of transport. They should also provide the two sides in Cyprus with the perspective of economic integration within the EU customs union.

In the proposed Action Plan the UN Secretary-General is kindly invited to consider the Plan and take the lead. We also suggest the convening of a high level meeting under the auspices of the UNSG and with the participation of both sides in Cyprus, Turkey and Greece for the implementation of the Action Plan.

We call upon the international community to carefully study and extend active support to this proposal. We believe that the time has come to move forward all together, leaving behind restrictions and confrontation. We need to turn a new page. The new proposals that I announce today might well be the first step in that direction.

This new initiative also conforms with the repeated calls and expectations of the international community; particularly as expressed by the UN Secretary General in his report of 28 May 2004, the resolution of the EU Council of 26 April 2004, and various resolutions of the EU Parliament, the OIC and the Council of Europe, made after the referenda, with a view to integrating the Turkish Cypriots with the world.

It presents an opportunity to improve daily relations between the two sides on the Island; help stabilize the Eastern Mediterranean region; provide economic benefits for all; help two sides in Cyprus reach EU norms, standards and values; and integrate the Turkish Cypriots with the rest of the world, which has been a goal of the international community, including the EU, since mid-2004.

Briefly, the Action Plan provides an improved environment of trust and economic development in which concerned parties can work together towards a settlement.

We sincerely hope that Turkey’s package of proposals will be received and examined positively by the relevant parties.

Turkey, as in the past, is ready and willing to work with the UN Secretary-General and relevant parties for peace, stability and harmony.

Thank you for your kind attention.

 

ACTION PLAN ON LIFTING OF RESTRICTIONS IN CYPRUS

The UN Secretary General is kindly invited to consider holding consultations with the parties concerned with a view to implementing the Action Plan, the principal elements of which are outlined herebelow:

1. Opening of the sea ports of Turkey to Greek Cypriot vessels serving the trade of goods in accordance with the EC-Turkey Customs Union.

2. Allowing Greek Cypriot air carriers to use the Turkish air space for over-flights and to land at the Turkish airports in accordance with relevant international rules and procedures.

3. Opening of the ports in North Cyprus, including Gazimagosa, Girne, and Gemikonağı to international traffic of goods, persons and services under Turkish Cypriot management.

4. Opening of Ercan airport for direct flights under the Turkish Cypriot management.

5. Special arrangements for the practical inclusion of North Cyprus, as an economic entity, into the European Union’s customs union. Unhindered direct trade between both sides of the Island as well as with the outside world.

6. Participation of the Turkish Cypriot side in international sports, cultural and other social activities.

We propose the following procedural steps for the implementation:

7. A high level meeting is to be convened no later than May/June 2006 under the auspices of the UN with the participation of Turkey, Greece, the Turkish Cypriot side and the Greek Cypriot side with a view to finalizing the draft action plan which will be implemented as an integrated whole within an agreed time frame.

8. The action plan and outcome of the meeting are to be submitted by the UN Secretary General to the UN Security Council. The UN Secretary General may wish to establish a mechanism to keep the implementation of the plan under review, with a view to regularly reporting any development to the Security Council.

9. The assistance, particularly to the Turkish Cypriot side, of the UN and the EU Commission will help facilitate the implementation of the proposed measures.

10. The action plan will, in no way, prejudice legal and political positions of the parties concerned. It is aimed at bringing about an environment of cooperation and mutual trust with a comprehensive settlement perspective to the Cyprus issue.

In this respect, Turkey remains committed to the efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem within the framework of UN Secretary-General’s mission of good offices and on the basis of the UN Secretary General’s settlement plan. Turkey earnestly hopes that an agreement on the comprehensive settlement will be reached in 2006.

 

AN EXPLANATORY NOTE: THE INITIATIVE OF TURKEY ON CYPRUS

• Turkey remains committed to the efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem within the framework of UN Secretary-General’s mission of good offices and on the basis of the UNSG’s settlement plan. Turkey believes that a just and lasting settlement will greatly contribute to peace, stability and harmonious relations in the region.

• In this regard, we recall the proposals of 30 May 2005 made by H.E. Abdullah Gül, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, for the simultaneous lifting of all restrictions on freedom of goods, persons and services by all relevant parties, in the context of the Cyprus issue.

• Those proposals represented a balanced and equitable way of eliminating restrictions on both sides, providing substantial benefits to all parties, leading to an improved environment of mutual confidence and economic development by reducing disparities, in which all parties can work together, under the UN auspices, on a new effort to reach a comprehensive settlement.

• The principal requirement is a comprehensive settlement. In the meantime, Turkey is of the view that the time has come to launch a process with a view to eliminating all restrictions that hinder further economic and social development and endanger the stability in and around the Island of Cyprus. In this respect, an Action Plan should be adopted and implemented in earnest as a whole. The international community is invited to encourage this reconciliation and provide active support to the proposed action plan.

• This new initiative has a strong potential to bring about a transitional process that would facilitate economic development through practical arrangements, until a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus question is found. The proposed action plan is not a substitute to a mutually acceptable settlement. Neither does it prejudice the legal and political positions of the relevant parties concerned.

• These practical arrangements should envisage, under an established time-table, the removal of all obstacles to the free movement of goods, persons and services, including restrictions on means of transport, and should provide the two sides in Cyprus with a perspective for a gradual harmonization in practical implementation of the EU customs union.

• Direct trade, travel, direct flight and increased contacts could be pillars of an increased regional cooperation. The arrangements, if implemented in a genuine spirit of partnership, will greatly contribute to moving forward the UN process of settlement to its final phase.

• In this respect, Turkey kindly invites the UN Secretary-General to consider taking the lead in developing a comprehensive initiative with a view to eliminating all restrictions amongst all sides concerned. The convening of a high level meeting under the auspices of the UN and with the participation of both sides in Cyprus, Turkey and Greece can be a first step in this direction. The action plan to be finalized at this meeting will be submitted to the UN Security Council.

Turkey presents, in the annex to this note, the outline of the action plan for the consideration of the international community.

 

INITIATIVES TAKEN BY THE TURKISH SIDE ON CYPRUS

2 April 2003:  President of the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) Mr. Denktaş sent a letter to Mr. Papadopoulos that proposed six confidence building measures. The Greek Cypriot leadership’s unwillingness prevented the implementation of these measures as a package. 

16 April 2003: TRNC Council of Ministers lifted restrictions on export of products from North to South.

23 April 2003: TRNC Council of Ministers decided to open the border between North and South to the crossings of people. Greek Cypriot leadership initially resisted the idea and called on Greek Cypriots not to travel to the TRNC. However, up to date, almost 9 million crossing have been recorded.

23 May 2003: Turkey adopted a new and simplified visa regime for Greek Cypriot citizens.

11 July 2003:  President Denktaş sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Annan, that proposed further measures to improve the atmosphere in the Island including the opening the Nicosia International Airport.

24 July 2003: President Denktaş sent a letter to UNSG Annan, expressing the readiness of the Turkish Cypriot side to discuss with the UN, the de-mining of the border area.

August 2003: Turkish Cypriot side established the Appraisal and Compensation Board to allow those Greek Cypriots who wish to seek compensation for their immovable properties left in the North. Greek Cypriot leadership calls on people not to apply to the said Commission. A draft law is tabled at the Greek Cypriot Parliament foreseeing various sentences for those who pursue this course of action.

25 May 2004: TRNC authorities adopted a new regulation allowing the Greek Cypriots to travel to North by using only ID’s. Passport requirement was abolished.

25 May 2004: TRNC authorities lifted all restrictions on export and import between the North and South, thus fully liberalizing the two-way trade.

August 2004: Direct phone calls between the TRNC and the South have become operational.

July – August 2004: TRNC Council of Ministers decided to open a secondary school for those Greek Cypriots living in the Karpaz area. The school became operational on September 13. Greek Cypriot teachers from the South have been allowed to teach at the school.

2 September 2004:  A Greek Orthodox liturgy took place at the Ayios Mammas Church in Güzelyurt first-ever after 30 years. Prime Minister Talat announced that all churches located in the TRNC were free to conduct liturgies. Many Greek Cypriots attended the mass on 2 September 2004.

12 November 2004: A “Special Information Unit” within the office of the Turkish Cypriot member of the Committee of Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) has been set up in order to help Greek Cypriot as well as Turkish Cypriot families by providing information concerning missing persons.

January 2005: The work for finding the remains of missing persons has started in the TRNC.

September 2004 and 2005: The screening procedure of schoolbooks to be used by Greek Cypriot children living in the TRNC has been brought to the level of European norms.

23 May 2005: Governmental Decree determining the legal status of the secondary school in the Karpaz area entered into force in the TRNC.

30 May 2005: Turkey called upon all relevant parties to simultaneously lift all kind of restrictions imposed on both sides in Cyprus. Turkish proposal has been circulated as a UN document.

12 August 2005: The agreement between the TRNC and the UNFICYP concerning the cleaning of mines in the buffer zone entered into force.

31 August 2005: Bostancı Gate opened upon the initiative of the Turkish Cypriot side. The Greek Cypriot side created serious obstacles for the opening of the crossing point.

September 2005: Turkish Cypriot side has initiated exploratory studies for the opening of Lokmacı gate at the city center of Lefkoşa (Ledra Street) following the completion of the de-mining process in the region on 2 September.

November 2005: Turkey decided to make a contribution of 150,000 USD to the work conducted by the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP). TRNC issued a Governmental Decree on 8 November 2005 to contribute 195,000 YTL (approximately 145,000 USD) to the establishment of anthropology laboratory to be constructed in the buffer zone and work within the framework of CMP.

25 November 2005: Turkish Cypriot side started the ground work for the opening of the Lokmacı Gate to crossings between North and South. In order to support the work undertaken by the Turkish Cypriot side, Turkey decided to allocate an amount of 500,000 YTL (approximately 370,000 USD).

December 2005: TRNC Parliament adopted a new legislation that envisaged reinstitution, exchange and compensation for movable and immovable properties which were possessed by Greek Cypriots before 1974 and were abandoned after. The new law came into force following its publication in the TRNC official gazette on 22 December.

4 January 2006: TRNC Council of Ministers abolished the visa requirement for Greek Cypriot and Greek citizens as well as third-country citizens of Greek and Greek Cypriot-origin.

- Greek Cypriots can participate in all international sports, cultural and other social activities organized in Turkey.