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Erdogan: End Turkish Cyprus isolation
Turkey's Prime Minister has called on the UN Security Council to endorse a blueprint to ease the isolation of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2005 00:46 GMT
Ankara has urged the US to open direct flights to north Cyprus
Turkey's Prime Minister has called on the UN Security Council to endorse a blueprint to ease the isolation of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.

Prime Minister Recep Erdogan expressed frustration on Thursday that the Security Council had yet to vote on a plan developed by UN chief Kofi Annan to open the north of Cyprus.

Arguing that his country had done more than the Greeks to overcome divisions in the Cyprus, Erdogan also pledged Ankara's help to stabilise Iraq, saying it was in the world's interest for its neighbour to become a democracy.

The Mediterranean island has been divided into a Greek Cypriot-controlled south and a Turkish-occupied north since Turkey invaded the island in 1974.

2004 vote

Turkish Cypriots voted for a reunification plan by Annan in April 2004, which was overwhelmingly rejected by Greek Cypriots.

Greek Cyprus has since joined the European Union with EU benefits applying only in the south, while a self-declared Turkish Cypriot state in the north is still recognized by only Turkey.

Turkey wants help easing the isolation as a reward for backing the unification plan, which needed approval from both sides to be implemented.

"We have said that we would always be one step ahead of the Greek Cypriots, and we have fulfilled that promise"

Recep Erdogan,
Turkish prime minister 

"We have said that we would always be one step ahead of the Greek Cypriots, and we have fulfilled that promise," Erdogan said. "We believe that a decision has to be reached, an endorsement has to happen, and we are looking for a positive outcome in this respect."

"Our expectation in Cyprus is to have a comprehensive, long-lasting and just peace and settlement," he said.

Earlier this week, UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast met with leaders in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey to discuss resuming talks but came away with no new announcements.

Prendergast is to brief the Security Council on 22 June.

US interest

On the issue of Iraq, Erdogan and Annan said they discussed Turkey's role in stabilizing the country.

Ankara refused to allow US troops in the country for the Iraq invasion, but Erdogan said Turkey was committed to assisting the development of the Iraqi government.

"I believe that it will be very important for all of us - Turkey as a neighboring country, the coalition forces and everybody else - that Iraq becomes a democratic country," he said.

"And we believe that this is very important for stability in the region. This will also mean that success will have been achieved in the fight against terrorism."

Erdogan said he had discussed reunification at a meeting on  Wednesday with US President George Bush, including the possibility of direct flights from the US to Ercan airport in the Turkish-controlled north.

Source:
Agencies
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