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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-01-21

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>


CONTENTS

  • [01] US disappointed over Cyprus stand
  • [02] Cyprus does not concede rights to Turkey
  • [03] Cyprus turns down Turkish threats

  • 1135:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] US disappointed over Cyprus stand

    Nicosia, Jan 21 (CNA) -- US Ambassador to Cyprus Kenneth Brill expressed disappointment here today with the Cyprus government's decision, backed by Athens, not to accept a US proposal for a ''moratorium'' on overflights of Greek and Turkish military aircraft over Cyprus.

    However, he stressed that now is the time to try to move the Cyprus issue in a positive direction.

    Speaking after a meeting with Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides, Brill described the US proposal as ''quite straight forward'' and that it was ''well understood by the two sides''.

    He said President Clerides gave his views based on his consultations in Athens last week as to what the status of the moratorium is.

    ''We are disappointed that this opportunity to move forward was not taken. We have had people taking far too many opportunities to taking things backwards'', the Ambassador warned.

    Brill remarked that ''it really is time to try to move the Cyprus issue in a positive direction'' and added the US is committed but ''we need to get people to do things that are positive''. At this point, Brill expressed the hope that other steps can be taken.

    Asked if the US will persist with the idea on a ban on overflights, Brill said ''the idea is out there... for the time being I think it is in abeyance''.

    He said what would be very helpful to move things forward would be some very substantial progress on the UN-sponsored military talks between the National Guard and the Turkish occupation forces, as well as the package proposal put forward.

    Brill reiterated the US position that ''there is too much military equipment in Cyprus, too many soldiers, too much focus on the military aspect of the Cyprus issue'', adding that ''military aspects get in the way of a political solution.''

    He urged both sides to ''focus on politics'' and to move away from ''military actions''.

    Brill said the parties need to want a solution as much as outsiders do. ''Outsiders cannot bring a solution to Cyprus unless the people here are ready to take the steps necessary to make a solution possible''.

    Asked if the US initiative on Cyprus has died, Brill repeated the US commitment, noting that President Bill Clinton and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are greatly interested in a Cyprus settlement.

    ''We prefer to be involved in a positive agenda of moving a Cyprus solution towards a settlement. We may have to be involved in steps trying to keep tensions from rising. The two are not necessary compatible'', Brill said.

    Asked if the US can control Turkey should it attempt a pre-emptive strike against Cyprus, Brill replied, ''the US is not in a position of controlling other countries.''

    Invited to comment on yesterday's joint statement by Turkish President Suleiman Demirel with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Brill remarked that he ''would not say it is a positive move but it is an absolutely predictable move''.

    Turkey has threatened to set up air and naval bases in the Turkish- occupied areas of the island if Cyprus deploys the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to protect a similar installation in Paphos, in the island's western part.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

    A decision by the Cyprus government to purchase Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles has been widely criticised by the United States as a ''wrong step''.

    However, the Cyprus government, backed by Greece, has repeatedly stressed that the system will solely used for defence purposes, in case of a Turkish attack.

    Russian officials have said the S-300 missiles are purely defensive weapons.

    CNA MM/EC/GP/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1440:CYPPRESS:02

    [02] Cyprus does not concede rights to Turkey

    Nicosia, Jan 21 (CNA) -- The Cyprus government has made it clear to the US and the European Union that it would not bow to a US-backed proposal to stop overflights of Greek and Turkish military aircraft in Cyprus, because such a move would be tantamount to conceding the right to control its air space to Turkey.

    The government has also reiterated its ardent desire to see substantive effort to facilitate a settlement of the protracted Cyprus question and said it may take unilateral measures to assist the peace process, once this gets underway, without asking reciprocal steps from the other side.

    Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides outlined these views to the US ambassador here and the ambassadors of EU members, resident on the island.

    ''A halt of overflights would mean that we recognise the right to Turkey to share with us ownership of our air space. This cannot be accepted, '' he said after today's meetings.

    ''If we were to accept such a proposal, its implementation would be subject to Turkey's adherence to its terms,'' he said, and pointed out that Turkey had in the past demanded the right to repeal any such agreement at will.

    Asked if the government has given assurances to ban overflights when the peace talks start, Michaelides said the government will refrain from any move that would create tension and added ''we may take certain steps unilaterally to facilitate the climate of the dialogue without asking anything in return from the other side.''

    Invited to comment on the US position (after being informed of the government's views on its proposal), the Minister said the US would have preferred to see each step implemented before moving on to other issues.

    ''The US may be disappointed because they wished to see each step adopted as proposed. We have heard this but we have also explained that any moves taken must not have a political cost,'' he added.

    Asked if the US disappointment may have negative repercussions on the US much-anticipated initiative on Cyprus, the Minister said ''I do not think so because the US recognises that Turkey poses the main problem, there are far more flights by Turkish aircraft than Greek planes.''

    He said he explained to the ambassadors that ''Cyprus wishes to see intensive effort to prepare the ground before direct negotiations begin.''

    Michaelides welcomed talks between the US and the EU as a move expressing EU intention to contribute towards efforts for a settlement in Cyprus.

    Turkish troops have been occupying 37 per cent of Cyprus territory since 1974, in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal.

    CNA MM/GP/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1450:CYPPRESS:03

    [03] Cyprus turns down Turkish threats

    Nicosia, Jan 21 (CNA) -- The Cyprus government has pointed out that the occupied part of the Republic is in itself a Turkish military base and therefore does not consider Ankara's threats to set up air and naval bases there as serious.

    Commenting on a joint statement issued yesterday in Ankara, after a meeting between Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides described its content as ''not serious''.

    ''I believe the content of this statement is not serious'', he said, and called on Denktash to look at the situation in Cyprus so that he can ''realise that the whole of the occupied part of the island constitutes a base for Turkey.''

    Noting the ''harsh realities'' in Cyprus, the Foreign Minister reminded that for the past 22 years Turkey has been occupying 37% of the island's territory, it keeps 35 thousand troops there, and uses the airport at Lefkoniko for military purposes and Kyrenia as a naval base.

    ''This is a reality that has forced many Turkish Cypriots to leave the occupied areas of Cyprus,'' he added.

    Turkey has threatened to set up air and naval bases in the areas it occupies since 1974, if the Cyprus government deploys Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on the island and it goes ahead with establishing an air and naval base, under the joint defence pact, agreed upon by the governments of Cyprus and Greece in 1993.

    The Demirel-Denktash joint statement said any aggression directed against Turkey or the puppet regime in Cyprus' occupied northern areas ''will be jointly confronted and the military planning and co-ordination necessary for this will be done.''

    Asked to comment on the joint statement, Cyprus Government Spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides noted the Turkish side ''is trying to present it as an interstate agreement'', whereas the parties involved is an illegal entity and Turkey.

    It is known that the occupied parts of Cyprus are a Turkish protectorate and illegally held with the force of arms, he added.

    Meanwhile, commenting on an announcement by Turkish Premier Netcmettin Erbakan, that Turkish warships will soon be sent to the occupied part of the island as an expression of support to the illegal entity, Cassoulides pointed out that Ankara is trying to force the Republic of Cyprus to cancel its agreement to buy the S-300 missile system.

    CNA MM/MA/GP/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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