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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-02-12

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Clerides replies to Rifkind
  • [02] Rifkind, Holbrooke warn Greece and Turkey
  • [03] Clinton wants to help Cyprus solution
  • [04] Cyprus more open to foreign investments
  • [05] Greenpeace issues statement on Akamas
  • [06] President Clerides continues visit to India

  • 1220:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Clerides replies to Rifkind

    by Maria Chrysanthou

    New Delhi, Feb 12 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides referred British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind to the UN Secretary-General's report, where he notes that there has been no progress in the Cyprus problem due to the lack of political will on the Turkish side.

    Rifkind had told BBC Radio 4 that there has been a "lack of real political will on both sides" to reach an agreement on Cyprus, and he described conflict between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean as a "serious possibility".

    Answering questions of the Indian press, President Clerides said he could refer the British Secretary "to what the UN Secretary-General stated in his report to the Security Council, that the reason for no progress in the solution of the Cyprus problem is the lack of political will by the Turkish Cypriot leader".

    He added that the second reason the UN Chief gave "is that his good offices could not produce a solution when one side, the Turkish side, flaunts international opinion as expressed in UN Security Council resolutions".

    President Clerides said a direct dialogue between him and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash could not take place unless ''there is a sign from the other side that it is ready to negotiate and we note a change of attitude on the main issues".

    Britain, the US and the UN Secretary-General Special Representative, who recently visited the island, have come to similar conclusions as well, the Cypriot President noted.

    Repeating the Cyprus government proposal for the island's demilitarisation, President Clerides explained that the purchase of the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles was decided as a result of the concentration of 80 Turkish F16 planes "at a four minute flying distance from the capital of Cyprus".

    "We consider that this was entirely unnecessary because Cyprus does not have an air-force, therefore it was not a protective measure on the part of Turkey. In view of this, we decided to purchase the missiles", President Clerides said.

    Answering a question on Cyprus' process for accession to the European Union (EU), President Clerides noted that the EU has reaffirmed repeatedly that accession talks will start six months after the conclusion of the intergovernmental Conference and that it would not allow for Turkey to veto any of its decisions.

    Asked whether Cyprus would support India for permanent membership to the UN Security Council, President Clerides said "we do not think that consideration should be given to countries with a strong economy because the Security Council is not a world bank but it should represent a balance of international opinion".

    CNA MCH/GP/1997

    [02] Rifkind, Holbrooke warn Greece and Turkey

    London, Feb 12 (CNA) -- British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has stated there has been a "lack of political will" to reach an agreement on Cyprus, and considers there is a "serious possibility" of war between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean.

    "I am not as confident (for a settlement on Cyprus) as logic would imply, because there has been a real lack of political will on both sides," Rifkind said Tuesday, during a BBC report on Cyprus.

    According to a BBC press release announcing the report, Rifkind added that "when relations (between Greece and Turkey) are already bad and tense and difficult, and both sides appear to be looking for an excuse to make them worse, that is pretty grim."

    Commenting on Rifkind's statements from India, where he is paying an official visit, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides referred the British Secretary to a report by the UN General-Secretary, in which he noted there has been no progress in Cyprus due to the lack of political will on the Turkish side.

    Replying to question in New Delhi, the Cypriot President said the second reason for the lack of progress in Cyprus, according to the UN chief, is "that his good offices could not produce a solution when one side, the Turkish side, flaunts international opinion as expressed in UN Security Council resolutions."

    The British Foreign Secretary's statements have been rejected by Cypriot political parties, who stressed that it is not the Greek Cypriot side that lacks the political will for a solution in Cyprus.

    They also called on the Foreign Secretary to exert pressure on Turkey for a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem, reminding him of Britain's role as one of the three guarantor's (along with Turkey and Greece) of Cyprus' independence.

    The BBC report says that Former US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Richard Holbrooke also warned that Greece and Turkey "could end up going back to war again", if their long-running dispute over Cyprus and the ownership of islands in the Aegean is not resolved.

    Holbrooke described Cyprus and southeastern Europe in general as the "hottest spot in the world today".

    The American official, who was instrumental in forging a peace agreement in Bosnia, told the same BBC programme that if the Cyprus problem is not resolved the situation "is going to get worse".

    "The ultimate danger is that they (Greece and Turkey), could end up going back to war again... war would be a disaster for the region and, given the inter-relations, it could expand", Holbrooke added, according to the BBC report.

    CNA MA/GP/1997

    [03] Clinton wants to help Cyprus solution

    Washington, Feb 12 (CNA) -- US President Bill Clinton will assess developments and consider how to facilitate a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem in 1997, but has noted it is up to the Cypriots to conclude an agreement.

    The US President has stressed the importance of peace for Cyprus and the entire eastern Mediterranean, and referred to the cooperation between the two countries and the strengthening of commercial ties.

    Accepting Tuesday the credentials of the new Cyprus ambassador to the US, Andros Nicolaides, Clinton said "in the coming year, we will assess developments in the region and consider how the US can join with the international community to facilitate an intercommunal agreement."

    However, he noted that the US can only facilitate a solution in Cyprus as "it will be up to the people of Cyprus, with the support of Greece and Turkey, to conclude a durable agreement that will meet their needs equitably."

    Clinton reassured of "the backing and goodwill of the US", and in stressing his "personal commitment" for a solution to the Cyprus problem, reminded that he had appointed Richard Beattie as his special emissary, "the first such emissary in 17 years".

    Referring to hightened tension on the island in 1996, after the cold- blooded murders of four Greek Cypriots by Turkish soldiers and extremists and the killing of a Turkish soldier at his outpost, never been verified by whom, Clinton described it as "another reminder of the danger of the status quo on the island."

    The US President said despite its size, Cyprus bears "enormous potential" due to its geographical position and "could become a vital regional business, communications, educational and health centre."

    "Our desire to see Cyprus reach its full potential is one reason my administration has placed such importance on efforts to end the island's division", he added. Clinton noted the "sad division" of Cyprus "has prevented the country from playing its rightful role in the region."

    "Prosperity requires peace and it is peace we seek for Cyprus and the entire eastern Mediterranean," he said.

    Referring to bilateral relations, Clinton said the two countries "have enjoyed a solid and enduring friendship for many years" which has deepened under President Glafcos Clerides.

    He referred to cooperation "on a number of important issues, such as trade control matters and regional law enforcement."

    He added that commercial ties between the US and Cyprus "continue to strengthen" and said in 1995 the US became the number one exporter to Cyprus, "surpassing even the UK, the former colonial ruler."

    Presenting his credentials, the new Cyprus ambassador expressed appreciation for Clinton's personal interest in the resolution of the Cyprus issue and the steps he has taken so far. He noted the US is "the world's indispensable nation and is uniquely placed to help make this a reality".

    "Your administration's commitment that 1997 should be the year of Cyprus, has revived the hopes of all Cypriots that the long awaited reunification date is finally within reach," Nicolaides added.

    He said official UN assessments attest the continuing impasse is "essentially due to the lack of political will and intransigence of the Turkish side" and expressed the Cyprus government's desire to "achieve a solution which guarantees every freedom and human right for all Cypriots, in a reunited, federal and demilitarised Cyprus".

    Nicolaides noted President Clerides has "submitted several generous proposals and made a series of concessions". He mentioned the Cleride's proposal for the demilitarisation of Cyprus "which has garnered considerable international support".

    The Cypriot ambassador also said the prospect of Cyprus' accession to the European Union offers "a unique opportunity for a solution" that should not be wasted.

    Nicolaides reiterated Cyprus' determination to contribute towards international peace, security and prosperity, noting "this is our vision for Cyprus too".

    The ambassador said traditionally friendly relations between the two countries "continue to grow further in all fields", and cited cooperation in combatting international crimes and the facilitating of US-led political and humanitarian initiatives in the region as examples.

    Nicolaides noted the two countries subscribe to the same high ideals and principles for peace, freedom, democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law, and expressed pride in the fact that these ideals originated "in our part of the world more than two thousand years ago".

    CNA DA/MA/GP/1997

    [04] Cyprus more open to foreign investments

    Nicosia, Feb 12 (CNA) -- The Cyprus government has decided to lift a number of restrictions concerning foreign investments on the island and to review its policy on Cypriot investments abroad.

    According to a decision taken by the island's Council of Ministers, up to 100 per cent foreign ownership will be allowed in the sectors of services, industry and commerce.

    The decision serves both purposes, to boost the Cyprus economy and its convergence with the European Union provisions, in view of the start of accession negotiations.

    In services, the foreign investment limit of 49 per cent is now up to 100 per cent, provided that the capital invested ranges from 50-100 thousand Cyprus pounds (100-200.000 US dollars).

    Foreign investments in the clothing, shoe and furniture industries can reach 100 per cent with minimum investment of 300.000 (600.000 US Dollars).

    In the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and forestry industries, participation is restricted to a maximum of 49 per cent.

    For foreign investment in finance and insurance companies, banks and publications, the percentage of ownership will be decided on the merit of individual applications.

    The decision provides for special and favourable handling of the applications of overseas Cypriots for investments on the island.

    Asked by CNA which sectors will be most targeted by foreign investors, a Central Bank official cited the services and commerce sectors whereas industry is expected to attract less foreign investments.

    Regarding Cypriot investments abroad, the Council of Ministers introduces a number of measures facilitating them.

    CNA GG/EC/GP/1997

    [05] Greenpeace issues statement on Akamas

    Nicosia, Feb 12 (CNA) -- The international environmental activist group Greenpeace has called upon the British government to end military exercises in the environmentally sensitive Akamas region, in Cyprus' western part.

    "The UK Government should immediately stop training in the area making it possible for Cyprus to create a proper protected area there," the statement says.

    The statement issued today by the Director of Greenpeace Mediterranean office, Dr. Mario Damato, says the Cypriot government should do all it can to protect the Akamas peninsula.

    "It is difficult to imagine a protected area with a shooting zone pluck in the middle of the ecological park," Damato adds.

    Local environmentalists are angry that British soldiers from the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) on the island continue to use Akamas as a firing range.

    Protestors, including Greenpeace members and politicians, picketed the area last month during live-fire exercises there attempting to halt the continuation of the exercises by camping out onto the firing range.

    Damato notes that infrastructure and tourist development pale in comparison to human activity in Akamas, particularly British army training.

    "This has resulted in unexploded bombs being scattered over the area and has also been known to cause fires in the past," he adds.

    SBA Spokesman, Mervyn Wynne-Jones told CNA accusations of wanton destruction of the Akamas region by British military exercises were "baseless".

    Others have disputed Wynne-Jones' claim citing the British government's payment to Cyprus of hundreds of thousands of British pounds in reparations for damage caused to Akamas over the past ten years.

    CNA MH/GP/1997

    [06] President Clerides continues visit to India

    New Delhi, Feb 12 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides ended the official part of his six-day visit to India, with meetings with government officials and representatives of the economic community and left today for a one-day visit to Udaipur.

    President Clerides had meetings yesterday with the Speaker of the Lower House of Representatives, the Deputy Chairperson of the Upper House of Representatives, the Information and Civil Aviation Minister and the Finance Minister.

    He also attended a lunch offered by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

    In a speech, FICCI President Shri Kasliwal said "India must look upon Cyprus as the gateway to three continents", namely, North Africa, Africa and Asia.

    Kasliwal added the island's "customs union agreement with the European Union and the expected full membership by the year 2000 make Cyprus a special springboard to the markets of Europe".

    Noting that trade between Cyprus and India remains "disappointingly small", the FICCI President assured Clerides' visit as well as various agreements signed between the two countries will boost cooperation.

    Clerides also met with members of the India-Cyprus Society, whom he thanked "for the admirable work done in fostering the existing friendly relations between our peoples."

    He noted that Cyprus is traversing the "most crucial period in its history", because of the Turkish side's continuing intransigence in efforts to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    "The unfailing support of true friends like India becomes all the more important and encourages us to continue our struggle for peace and justice, " Clerides added.

    After expressing his desire that the friendship, understanding and respect shared by the peoples of Cyprus and India will continue to grow, President Clerides assured he will do "everything possible to ensure that these goals are achieved to the fullest extent".

    The Society presented President Clerides with a painting of a woman holding a picture of her son missing since the Turkish invasion and occupation of the island's northern third, which, he said, "deeply touched" him.

    After Udaipur, President Clerides will travel to Mumbai. He returns to Cyprus on Sunday.

    CNA MCH/MA/GP/1997

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