Christofias eyes ports for new EU chapters

Christofias eyes ports for new EU chapters

Christofias eyes ports for new EU chapters

Greek Cyprus President Demetris Christofias calls for the opening of Varosha neighborhood to residences in exchange for opening new EU chapters for Turkey. AFP photo

Greek Cyprus President Demetris Christofias offered to open several chapters for Turkey during its EU presidency along with allowing Turkish Cypriots to use the Famagusta port for trade in exchange for opening Varosha, a neighborhood in the Cypriot city of Famagusta currently under Turkish military control and closed to residence.

“I intend to revive several chapters with the European Union [during our presidency]. But this has to be with a give-and-take process. This is about Famagusta. The Famagusta port can be opened for Turkish Cypriots so that all citizens in our country can make trade under the U.N. umbrella,” Christofias told daily Milliyet yesterday. He said the second part of this give-and-take process will center around the Varosha neighborhood in the city of Famagusta. He called for the opening of Varosha to residences in exchange for steps taken by Greek Cyprus.

Christofias said they did not wish to be an obstacle standing before Turkey’s EU bid, because “we know that this is not to our benefit as well.” Greek Cypriots head to the polls in February of 2013 to vote for their next president and Christofias has signaled that he may rerun. Citing that he has told his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Derviş Eroğlu to “make progress for a solution,” Christofias said he may rerun for the presidency if they can “enter a solution stage.”

Christofias said they were ready for “a federal solution with a two-community” and that he has also told this to the U.N. Secretary General’s special envoy Alexander Downer. “But [Downer] told us that Turkish Cypriots are not ready [for a federal solution] after he met with Eroğlu. We said first bureaucrats should meet. And then we learn that [Eroğlu’s special envoy] Kudret Özersay resigns,” Christofias told Milliyet.

Share of gas and oil reserves

Speaking on the Greek Cyprus’ initiative of oil and gas search in the eastern Mediterranean, Christofias said he told the U.N. General Assembly that they will be glad to see both sides of the island benefit from these energy reserves. With cooperation and peace both the Turkish Cyprus and Turkey will benefit from the reserves, Christofias said. “Turkey cannot be a transition zone [for the transfer of the energy to Europe] by force.”