BAKU: Azeri experts downplay Cyprus threats

Azeri experts downplay Cyprus threats

Ekho, Baku
3 Aug 05

Azerbaijani politicians have downplayed recent threats of Cyprus
against Azerbaijan after a direct flight from Baku carried a group of
Azerbaijani businessmen to Northern Cyprus. They said that the threats
and acts of the government of Cyprus will not impact Azerbaijan’s
relations with the rest of the world. The following is the excerpt
from report by N. Aliyev and R. Rzayev in Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho
on 3 August headlined “Cyprus threatens Azerbaijan with international
organizations” and subheaded “But they are convinced in Baku that the
threats of Greek Cypriots are unfounded and fully unfair”; Subheadings
have been inserted editorially:

The government of Cyprus is reconsidering a whole spectrum of
relations with Azerbaijan by involving many European and world
entities. Financial Mirror published in Cyprus says that Nicosia’s
efforts have already led to the deterioration of relations between
European entities and a wide range of countries on the one hand and
Baku on the other.

The authorities in Greek Cyprus aim to convince Baku to stop direct
flights to Northern Cyprus. A group of Azerbaijani businessmen made a
trip to the Turkish part of Cyprus last week on a direct flight from
Baku operated by Imair [private Azerbaijani company].

“The government of Cyprus hopes that Azerbaijan will respect
international laws and the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus,”
the permanent secretary of the foreign minister of Cyprus, Sotos
Zackheos, has told CNN. The president of Cyprus, Tasos Papadhopoulos,
Foreign Minister Yeoryios Iakovou and Minister of Communications and
Works Kharis Thrasou have sent official letters to their Azerbaijani
counterparts.

[Passage omitted: more about protests by Greek Cyprus]

“Unsubstantiated and unfair”

“The statements by Greek Cypriots are unsubstantiated and fully unfair
threats,” a member of the standing commission on international issues
of the Azerbaijani parliament and the chairman of the Democratic
Reforms Party, Asim Mollazada, told Ekho yesterday [2 August]. A
private Azerbaijani company’s decision to open the direct flight to
Northern Cyprus and the businessmen’s trip to the island are within the
international norms, he said. MP Mollazada recalled that the Turkish
community of the island voted for and the Greek community against
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan on the unification of Cyprus
(the Annan plan).

“Now, it implies that the international community does not keep its
promise to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community,”
the parliamentarian stressed. He viewed the trip of the Azerbaijani
businessmen as a humane step.

“But this is unfair,” the MP exclaimed. He said that Northern Cyprus
has remained in full isolation and blockade until recently. It is all
after the Turkish Cypriots voted for the Annan plan, which was backed
by all the members of the US Security Council and the international
community, the MP said.

“Empty words”

The EU and the USA promised to lift the isolation of the Turkish part
of the island so that its population can develop and improve their
conditions, he said. “But the promises turned out to be ’empty words’
and only Azerbaijan took actual steps to this effect.”

“Here, the talk is not about recognizing Northern Cyprus as an
independent state,” the parliamentarian explained. Mollazada does
not think that there is any serious violation of international
laws. The Azerbaijani side acted within the framework of the
principles of international organizations and the promises of the
UN secretary-general. All the reproaches against our country now are
fully unfounded, he noted.

The international community will not show understanding to the acts of
Southern Cyprus even if the latter tries to implement their threats,
he said. Moreover, the EU and the USA will have to deliver on their
promises to end the isolation of the Turkish part of Cyprus.

“They promised to do that, if Turkish Cypriots voted for the Annan
plan in a referendum,” Mollazada said.

“Greek side to blame”

Renowned political analyst Zardust Alizada says that it is the Greek
side to blame when they said “no” to the referendum on the Annan plan.

“They put themselves into an awkward situation, while Turkish Cypriots
proved their readiness for compromises,” the political analyst said.

But on the other hand, he says that, as a small nation, Azerbaijan
should never take too many initiatives in issues concerning the
territorial integrity of unrecognized states.

“We have enough problems and the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict may be
used against us any time,” Alizada warned.

Anyhow, there is a special resolution of the EU to ease the air and sea
blockade of Northern Cyprus. “The Greeks are playing a double-game,
but forget that the attitude of the international community towards
Turkish Cypriots is changing for the better,” he noted.

Nevertheless, he said that “if this issue were down to me, I would
not be so active because Azerbaijan does not need it”. Alizada said
that recognizing the independence of Northern Cyprus is out of the
question, as this could be a “suicide” for Azerbaijan. Moreover,
he is convinced that Azerbaijan’s activity in this issue will not
be understood in Europe. As for the complaints of Greek Cypriots to
European entities against Azerbaijan, they “are not going to change
anything principally”. “The EU will not stop cooperation with our
country,” Alizada said.

[Passage omitted: the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry could not be
reached for comments]

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