John Paul II Encourages Talks to Overcome Cyprus' Division

When Receiving New Ambassador to the Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2003 ( John Paul II is urging the renewal of negotiations for overcoming the division of the island of Cyprus.

He expressed his position Saturday when receiving the credentials of Georgios Poulides, the new ambassador of Nicosia to the Vatican.

In 1974, a Greek-sponsored attempt to seize the government was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled almost 40% of the island. In 1983, the Turkish-led area declared itself the «Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,» but it is recognized only by Turkey.

Almost three decades later, 40,000 Turkish soldiers continued to be deployed in the north and the U.N. peacekeeping forces patrol the disputed area which divides the island.

The population of Cyprus is divided between 600,000 Greek-Cypriots in the south and some 150,000 inhabitants of Turkish origin — some born in the island and others who have come from Turkey — in the north.

The negotiations initiated by the United Nations in January 2002 to overcome the division have failed.

«The Holy See, together with the rest of the international community, was greatly saddened that the plan for peace and reunification presented last year by the secretary-general of the United Nations — the result of months of negotiation — did not gain the necessary consensus with the parties involved and was thus not accepted,» the Pope said.

«It is to be hoped that the current climate of a growing European integration and an increasing European unity will provide renewed impetus and resolve to efforts aimed at finally overcoming this crisis,» the Pontiff added.

«In this regard, I am pleased to hear you speak of your government’s willingness to sit down once more at the table of dialogue and negotiation, under the auspices of the United Nations, and its readiness to abide by all relevant directives adopted by the Security Council,» he said.

«Indeed, confrontation and violence will never provide lasting solutions to controversies between peoples and nations,» the Holy Father added. «Sincere negotiation is required for settling differences in a manner that serves the authentic good of all, and the path of frank and straightforward dialogue is the only way for effectively undertaking such negotiation.»

The Pope concluded: «In all of this, of course, the members of the Catholic community will always be eager to make their contribution along with their fellow Cypriots.»

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