Speaking to a group of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists, currently in Brussels at the invitation of the European Commission, and invited to comment on the negotiation process currently underway between President Christofias and Talat aiming at reaching a solution of the Cyprus problem, Spokesperson for Enlargement Amadeu Tardio Altafaj said that ”on the substance, we are stuck, this is the feeling of the Commission.”
Altafaj also said that there is a sense of urgency regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem linked to the fact that ”there is a whole new generation that does not have the same perception” as the generations before.
However, he added, ”the window of opportunity is still open,” and referred to the responsibility the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have assumed, saying that ”the EU will not do the job Talat and Christofias took the responsibility for.”
Invited to comment on the 2009 progress report on Turkey released yesterday in Brussels, Altafaj rejected estimations that the report is soft on Turkey. ”Eight chapters are blocked and this is a strong incentive,” he said.
He wondered whether stronger sanctions could be more effective, and went on to say that ”this is not the conclusion we drew from our experience.”
Furthermore, he expressed the opinion that ”much stronger direct pressure would not change the order of priorities, and priority is in the hand of Mr. Talat and Mr. Christofias.”
He added that ”if leaders are not able to deliver, they have to explain why they did not deliver.”
Altafaj, however, stressed that ”the window of opportunity is still open.”
Replying to another question, Altafaj said that President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso ”is extremely concerned” about the Cyprus problem and that the situation in Cyprus ”is a completely anachronistic situation.”
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Financial Mirror, October 16, 2009