Limnitis decision ‘poisons atmosphere’

THE REFUSAL to temporarily open the Limnitis checkpoint is “an unfavourable development that poisons the atmosphere”, the Government spokesman said yesterday.

Stefanos Stefanou was commenting on the Turkish Cypriot leadership’s decision on Friday to refuse Kato Pyrgos residents entry through the Limnitis checkpoint to attend an organised pilgrimage to Ayios Mamas in Morphou.

The only official explanation so far has come from Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat’s press spokesman, Hasan Ercakica, who said there was no checkpoint at Limnitis, but a big and broad military area. He added that Greek Cypriots could use other checkpoints if they wished to visit Ayios Mamas.

The request for easy access to the church of Ayios Mamas came as President Demetris Christofias and Talat prepare to begin fully fledged negotiations next week.

Nonetheless, Stefanou yesterday stressed that the Greek Cypriot side would continue to behave responsibly and constructively because it was concerned about how negotiations and attempts to resolve the Cyprus problem were going.

Speaking to the CyBC, Stefanou sent a clear message to Turkey that good will worked both ways.

He said the Greek Cypriots were hoping and expecting that such good will would be shown by the Turkish Cypriots during the forthcoming talks between the two community leaders, set to begin on September 3.

Stefanou rejected Ercakica’s explanation over Limnitis, noting: “If it was like that, why was there the March 21 agreement between President Christofias and Talat that priority should be given to opening the Limnitis checkpoint? When the Turkish Cypriots entered through it to go to Kokkina it was a checkpoint and now that Greek Cypriots are asking to go to Morphou, it no longer exists?”

The spokesman pointed out that this latest development came just a day after the Turkish President’s repetition of non-acceptable positions that contradict UN resolutions and decisions.

He said it was well-known that the Turkish army and state would keep trying to bring obstacles to the procedure. “The bet for Mehmet Ali Talat is to table the issues that the two sides agreed on and make his decisions so that Cypriots can go ahead together towards a solution in favour of the Cypriots,” said Stefanou. “This way, we will add pressure to the circles in Turkey that don’t want a solution. Otherwise, we will go from one problem to another and never move forward.”

He repeated that the Limnitis issue remained a priority and President Christofias would be putting it forward during the direct talks.

The Turkish Cypriots’ decision was relayed to Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou on Friday by UN Special Representative in Cyprus Taye-Brook Zerihoun, during a meeting with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart.

Iacovou deemed it necessary to cut discussions short and walk out, before rushing to the Presidential Palace and informing Christofias on the latest developments.

Iacovou, who described the Turkish Cypriots; decision as “small-hearted and provocative”, said the President agreed he’d done the right thing by walking out.

Talat’s advisor Ozdil Nami was not in a position to substantiate the decision. He just said he hoped the issue would not affect the talks.

DISY, EVROKO, EDEK and DIKO were among the political parties that yesterday rushed to condemn the decision.

Turkish media

The Turkish Cypriot side’s refusal to allow entry through Limnitis throws dynamite onto the September 3 meeting, Turkish Cypriot paper Afrika headlined yesterday.

According to the paper, Mehmet Ali Talat is the man who executes Ankara’s instructions and his presence at the negotiations table is equal to the presence of Ankara. It also criticises the Turkish Cypriot leadership for saying entry was not allowed as there was no checkpoint.

Kibris, as well as the other Turkish Cypriot papers, headlined Iacovou’s statements on his decision to walk out of his meeting with Ozdil Nami, as was Ercakica’s offered explanation.