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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-09

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Israel-Turkey military agreement no threat to Cyprus
  • [02] EU President: No preconditions for accession talks with Cyprus
  • [03] Presidential hopefuls submit nominations
  • [04] Cyprus air base ready
  • [05] Cypriot Minister flies to Greece
  • [06] Seven candidates for Cyprus presidential elections

  • 0840:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Israel-Turkey military agreement no threat to Cyprus

    By Maria Myles

    Tel Aviv, Jan 9 (CNA) -- The military cooperation agreement Israel has signed with Turkey has caused some problems to Israel in its relations with Cyprus and Greece, Israeli government sources have admitted, stressing also that there are a lot of misconceptions about the agreement.

    The same sources told CNA Israel wants to stay outside the problematic triangle between Turkey-Greece-Cyprus.

    They indicated that Turkey's appalling human rights record does not come into the equation of the military agreement Israel has signed with Turkey.

    The two countries, they pointed out, have so far not carried out any joint manoeuvres on land or in the air. The first joint exercises were held this week, in the form of search and rescue operations.

    Relations with Cyprus, they underlined, are "excellent" and Israel is ready to develop them further.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Israeli sources, explained that the agreement "gives us some difficult time and problems as we spend a lot of energy to try and convince our friends in both countries (Greece and Cyprus) that whatever we are doing with Turkey is not aimed by any means against them".

    Noting the dimensions of the cooperation agreement "are very exaggerated in the media", the officials stressed that Israel "does not expect Turkish troops to land here and help us, if for example there is a war with Syria, and vice versa."

    The possibility Israel has through these agreement to obtain information about Iran and Syria and for Israeli pilots to train over land "is very important strategically speaking and has nothing to do with Turkey's relations with Greece and Cyprus."

    "We are very determined to do our utmost to stay out of the conflict (between Turkey-Greece-Cyprus)," they said.

    Asked if Cyprus' concerns about the implications of the agreement as these may affect the country's security are not justified, the sources acknowledged that they could understand the Greek and Greek Cypriot sentiments "to a certain extent".

    "If there is a general view of Turkey as an enemy and whoever is dealing business with my enemy gives me cause to be concerned, that I can understand," the sources remarked.

    However, they pointed out that other countries, such as the US, Britain, France and Germany, supply Turkey with arms and added "when Turkey invaded in 1974 it was not with the help of the Israeli army. They are strong enough to do this if they wish.

    I think that blaming Israel for creating some kind of capability for the Turkish army is exaggerated," they said.

    Invited to outline the possible benefits, if any, of this agreement to Cyprus and Greece, the government sources noted Israel is doing business with all three countries.

    "Diplomatically speaking, we are trying to keep ourselves outside the triangle of the conflict, but of course if in an eventuality the sides (Turkey and Cyprus) decide that some kind of Israeli mediation can be helpful, we will be very glad to assist," they added.

    "We do not suggest it because we think it is a very complicated issue, and we do not think what this conflict lacks is another mediator," they remarked.

    "We have all the will but we are not going to jump in the front and we do not think we have the kind of wonder remedy or formula that can set the record straight in the problem."

    Replying to questions, the sources stopped short of describing the military agreement with Turkey as a "commercial deal", but acknowledged that one cannot ignore the fact that jobs are created through the agreement.

    "It is important to point out that there were no joint military exercises with Turkey. There were never any combined exercises or manoeuvres of Israeli and Turkish pilots. The first joint manoeuvres at sea are this week's operation (Wednesday's)," they said.

    Asked if Turkey's appalling human rights record is not a consideration for Israel in terms of its cooperation agreement, the sources recognised that at times Israeli foreign policy is dictated by security and defence considerations from the competent authority (the Defence Ministry).

    "As a consequence, for years Israel did not have a policy on the issue of human rights," they added.

    They noted that in the past, Israel established ties with anybody willing to have contacts with it, including the Pinochet regime in Chile and the apartheid regime in South Africa.

    "Our understanding of the situation is that we are surrounded by enemies and if somebody likes to have contact with us, we do not check what kind of regime he is," the officials admitted.

    However they hastened to add that Turkey "is an easier case (in terms of having ties with it) because it is not withdrawn from the international community."

    "Turkey suffers, and rightly so, a lot of criticism about human rights issues, but it is not boycotted", they explained.

    Asked if the military agreement Israel has with Greece is dormant, the sources said it is "less active than it could be", and noted that ties with Greece, though improved in the 1990s "are still not a natural part of the Greek foreign policy."

    Describing relations with Greece, the sources said there still exist two trains of thought, one that argues more in favour of ties with the Arab world and another that wants to find ways to cooperate politically and militarily with Israel.

    "I would say both exist today and it is undecided who is going to win this conflict of ideas," they added.

    Asked if relations with Cyprus ran along the same lines, they said, "no" and underlined they are "excellent".

    "I would say, if with Greece during the 1990s we walked slowly, with Cyprus we ran both in the scope, quality and warmth of our relations. Our relations with Cyprus are far warmer, richer in quality and better in general than our relations with Greece," they said.

    CNA MM/MA/GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    0940:CYPPRESS:02

    [02] EU President: No preconditions for accession talks with Cyprus

    London, Jan 9 (CNA) -- British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, pledged once again there are no preconditions for Cyprus to start accession negotiations with the European Union.

    Blair made the statement during a press conference yesterday in London, where the European Commission president, Jacques Santer handed the EU six- month rotating presidency to Britain.

    Referring to the participation of Turkish Cypriots in the delegation which will represent Cyprus at the EU accession talks, Blair said "we hope very much that there would be Turkish Cypriots in the delegation to negotiate these issues".

    The British Premier noted that "the prospect would be far better if there was a settlement" to the Cyprus problem, and pledged that the British EU presidency will try to work towards that.

    However, he stressed the timetable and the position were set out in the EU summit, in Luxembourg, last month, and "that's the position we will follow".

    Answering a question about what will happen if the EU does not persuade the Turkish Cypriots to participate in the talks, Blair stressed "there are no preconditions laid down but obviously we have indicated and it is a matter of common sense that the more progress there is in getting a bicommunity focus to the prospect of a settlement in Cyprus, the easier it is. This is a matter of common sense", he said.

    "But there are no preconditions. The position is, that accession negotiations with Cyprus will begin in the way we set out, but I emphasise again that we look for and want to see progress on a lasting settlement in Cyprus", Blair added.

    Asked how the presidency will deal with Turkey's reaction to the Luxembourg decision, which excluded Turkey from the countries eligible to start accession negotiations Blair said "there has been a difficult situation obviously".

    However, he said "there is a tremendous acceptance in the EU that we want Turkey to be part of the family of Europe" and it is important that the EU deals with the outstanding problems.

    At this point, Commission President Santer said for the first time, "all 15, not 14 country members, have agreed for a common strategy for Turkey".

    He said he was "very much surprised" at the strong reaction by Turkey. "Europe wants Turkey to take part in the European conference. Turkey belongs to the European family," Santer said, and called on the Turkish authority to reconsider their position.

    However, Santer stressed that for Turkey to become a member of the EU, "it must fulfil all conditions like all other applicant countries. Turkey is treated like all other countries".

    Adding to Santer's remarks, Blair said from the point of view of the British presidency, "we will play a very constructive part in ensuring that we see successful negotiations with Cyprus, and a situation where Turkey will develop close relations with the EU".

    Membership talks with Cyprus will start on March 30, 1998. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

    CNA KT/EC/GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1000:CYPPRESS:03

    [03] Presidential hopefuls submit nominations

    Nicosia, Jan 9 (CNA) -- Presidential candidates began submitting this morning their nominations for the presidential elections on February 8, 1998.

    Already, independent candidate, George Iacovou, backed by AKEL and the Democratic Party, and former President and president of the United Democrats, George Vassiliou, have submitted their nominations.

    Current President, Glafcos Clerides followed by Liberal Party leader, Nicos Rolandis, Socialist EDEK President, Vassos Lyssarides, New Horizons President, Nicos Koutsou, independent candidate, Alexis Galanos, and probably others, will all submit their nominations by noon.

    Each candidate deposits the one-thousand pound fee (around two thousand US dollars). Nominations should be backed by nine electors.

    Well over 400.000 Cypriots will vote in February's elections.

    CNA EC/GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1055:CYPPRESS:04

    [04] Cyprus air base ready

    Nicosia, Jan 9 (CNA) -- The Air Force Base near the western coastal town of Paphos will be ready for use by January 24, 1998, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has announced.

    In an interview with a CyBC television programme last night, President Clerides said in conjunction with the installation of the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles, the island's air space would be fully covered and would provide what he called "persuasive air coverage against enemy jets."

    He said the main reason for boosting Cypriot air defences is to protect vulnerable tanks on the ground.

    President Clerides said the "S-300 missiles will cause such damage to the enemy's air force that they will think twice before attacking again."

    He said this is part of the strategic plan. "If we don't implement it, then the only use for our tanks is to show them off at parades, knowing that if we go to battle they will be destroyed."

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

    CNA GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1130:CYPPRESS:05

    [05] Cypriot Minister flies to Greece

    Larnaca, Jan 9 (CNA) -- Cyprus Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, left for Athens today for talks with the Greek Foreign Ministry leadership.

    He will hold talks with Foreign Minister, Theodoros Pangalos, Alternate Foreign Minister, George Papandreou and Deputy Foreign Minister, Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    The Athens talks are expected to focus on developments in the Cyprus problem and Cyprus' bid to become a full member of the European Union.

    In statements before his departure, Kasoulides said in Athens he will review developments in the Cyprus problem, as a result of the Luxembourg European Council summit last month.

    EU leaders confirmed their decision for the start of membership talks with Cyprus on March 30, 1998.

    Kasoulides described the current period as "critical" because of the situation in the Aegean Sea and the Turkish provocations with repeated violations of Greece's national air space and Athens FIR by Turkish jets.

    The Foreign Minister said he would be briefed on this issue because "any developments would have consequences on Cyprus".

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory. CNA MAN/RG/EC/GP/1998

    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1330:CYPPRESS:06

    [06] Seven candidates for Cyprus presidential elections

    Nicosia, Jan 9 (CNA) -- Seven men submitted officially Friday their candidacies for next month's presidential election.

    They all called for unity and an atmosphere of calm to prevail until the elections of February 8, 1998.

    The candidacies will be considered final at 1800 local hours (1600 GMT) today when the time for any objections to be submitted will expire and the Chief Returning Officer, Thanos Michael, will announce the final names for the election ballot. Michael said the whole procedure ran smoothly.

    More than 400.000 Cypriots are eligible to vote in February's elections. For the first time, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. Voting is compulsory in Cyprus.

    The seven hopefuls arrived separately at the International centre in Nicosia accompanied by nine electors each to back their nominations. They paid a 1.000-pound deposit each, which will be returned to candidates who will manage to gather more than 10 per cent of the vote.

    George Iacovou, former Foreign Minister of the governments of Spyros Kyprianou and George Vassiliou, was the first to arrive at the Conference Centre. He is backed by leftwing AKEL party and the centre-right Democratic Party (DEKO), until recently a partner in the government of President Glafcos Clerides.

    In statements, Iacovou said he is fully aware of the responsibilities he is undertaking and conveyed a message to "struggle with prudence, determination, acquiescence and assertion to promote the interests of Cyprus and its people".

    He pledged to create the necessary conditions for initiatives which would aim to secure fundamental principles, human rights and freedoms.

    Former President and President of the United Democrats, George Vassiliou, was the second to submit his nomination, calling on Cypriot voters to "realise the problems, the difficulties and the challenges of the next years and choose according to their experience" and preferences and not be guided by party instructions.

    Referring to the climate which has dominated the pre-election period, Vassiliou said he would insist on democratic principles and an exchange of views and not accusations.

    The third nomination came from incumbent President, Glafcos Clerides, who looked optimistic, declaring that he has "complete faith in the judgement of the Cypriot voters".

    The President of the ruling Democratic Rally Party (DISY) which backs Clerides, Nicos Anastasiades, said it was an honour for him to propose Clerides as a candidate.

    Liberal Party leader, Nicos Rolandis, a former Foreign Minister under Kyprianou, acknowledged the responsibility which his nomination bears.

    He described his candidacy as a "candidacy of truth" and called on all those who believe in him to support him so that he would be able to transform his vision into reality.

    Socialist EDEK President, Vassos Lyssarides, former House of Representatives President, said his candidacy constitutes "a true alternative proposal to Cypriot hellenism" because it is based on the principles of democratic socialism.

    He called for a new strategy regarding the Cyprus problem and urged the people to give his party a regulatory role in the forthcoming elections.

    New Horizons President, Nicos Koutsou, flanked by his wife and his two young children, said his candidacy appeals to "young people, both in the mind and age".

    His message was that of "optimism because we enter a new phase in the island's political scene where the new generation in politics is claiming a role", he said.

    Alexis Galanos, a Democratic Party MP, and former House of Representatives President, was the last to submit his nomination, noting that the nine electors who backed him might not be well known but they believe that the political scene must change.

    He said his message is that new people, fresh political ideas and new times are necessary to escape from the political party dominance which has become especially evident in the last months.

    CNA EC/GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    CNA ENDS
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