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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-12-16

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] House President - Archbishop - Peres
  • [02] Peres - Cyprus - Israel - Relations
  • [03] Cyprus - Israel - Spies
  • [04] Peres - Middle East
  • [05] Foreign Minister - Missiles - UN

  • 1530:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] House President - Archbishop - Peres

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has told President of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou that he supports a united Cyprus, where all democratic principles are respected.

    Speaking after a meeting with Peres, the House President said the Nobel peace prize winner also backed the Republic's accession to the European Union.

    Peres, who leaves later today, called on Kyprianou and the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos.

    "We exchanged views on the situation in the region," Kyprianou said, noting that Peres appeared optimistic about the future of the Israeli - Palestinian issue.

    The House President said he briefed Peres on developments in the Cyprus issue and elaborated on his view that the international community allowed ethnic cleansing to take place here.

    "I told him that Cyprus cannot survive if it is geographically and ethnically divided," Kyprianou said.

    Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974. Only about 500 Greek Cypriots remain in the occupied areas whereas over 80 thousand Turks have been brought over from Turkey in a bid to change the island's demographic character.

    The House President discussed with Peres the military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Israel as well as issues concerning the Jewish lobby in the US, but refrained from elaborating, noting he will also discuss these issues when he visits Israel next year.

    Invited to comment on reports that Peres' visit aims at achieving the release of two Israelis arrested in Cyprus for espionage, the House President said the Israeli official did not raise such an issue. "It was mentioned as a regretful incident," Kyprianou said.

    He expressed the view that Peres' visit has nothing to do with the arrest of Israeli nationals Udi Hargov, 37, and Igal Damary, 49, in November.

    However, Kyprianou said it may be aimed at "improving the climate in relations between the two countries, after this incident and bearing in mind the Israeli-Turkish military agreement and the attitude of the Jewish lobby in the US".

    After his meeting with the Archbishop, Peres expressed regret over the incident and described it as a mistake.

    Archbishop Chrysostomos said they did not discuss the issue of the two Israelis arrested but exchanged views on other matters of mutual interest.

    CNA MA/MM/1998

    [02] Peres - Cyprus - Israel - Relations

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- Former Israeli Premier, Shimon Peres, stressed today it is up to the two communities in Cyprus to decide on a solution to the island's political problem, pointing out however, that the situation gets more complicated because Greece and Turkey are also involved.

    Peres also expressed the view that a solution will be found once all three countries, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey become European Union and NATO members.

    Replying to questions, during a press conference today, Peres described his contacts here as "fruitful and productive for Cyprus and Israel".

    He said Israel wishes to see "Cyprus as a united island, a flourishing society, a centre of tranquility and peace in the Middle East," adding that Israel considers "the success of Cyprus as a success for the whole region".

    "We had very friendly talks and I think all the problems were clarified. I enjoyed very much the meeting. I think it was useful," he said.

    Asked whether the Peres Centre for Peace would be willing to help the peace effort in Cyprus, the Israeli Nobel prize winner replied, "we would be delighted if we can be of any help," but pointed out, that his advice to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island was "to get on with the process," themselves.

    "My best advice is for them to decide. We can help, we can support but basically it is in your hands, as it was in our case," he said, adding, however that in the case of Cyprus "it is a little bit more difficult because negotiations are not only between the Turks and the Greeks who live on the island but also between Turkey and Greece".

    "That complicates the situation," Peres remarked. The former Israeli Premier expressed the view that "finally the solution will be found once you (Cyprus) Greece and Turkey will become members of the EU and NATO," noting that since the creation of the EU "there was not a single war among the members of Europe".

    Asked whether he believes there is political will on both sides in Cyprus, Turkey and Greece to sit down and get things sorted out, Peres replied: "I do not know if there is enough will, I know there is enough need," and remarked, "history is on your side".

    "We are for a united Cyprus and against any use of military strength to change the destiny of this island. I think that despite the difficulties one should not give up the hope to negotiate even with Turkey about finding the right solution," Peres added.

    Invited to comment on a proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for a confederation of two states in Cyprus, Peres replied, "we support your position, the majority of the people of Cyprus which are the Greeks".

    "Our position is very clear," he added, stressing that "the island should be united, the parties should discuss."

    Peres explained the world is changing "from an economy of land to an economy of friends. The land, the borders, the wars the armies are no longer as important as they used to be," he added.

    He also pointed out that "today the differences are more among generations than among nations or parties," adding that even though, "nobody can promise that there will not be any more wars, the need for wars is over".

    "I think the new age will arrive at every place, including Turkey, Greece, Israel and the Palestinians, it is a matter of time," he added.

    Referring to economic relations between Cyprus and Israel, he said they are developing "very impressively over the past five or six years" and said he was "very impressed by what I saw in the past 24 hours".

    Replying to questions on Israel's military agreement with Turkey, Peres said he could not see why friendly relations with Cyprus could not also be kept.

    "A fight goes on between secular and fundamentalist Muslims and our relation with Turkey is the result of this struggle and not the result of the relation between you and Turkey," he said.

    "But while having these relations with Turkey we do not see any reason why we cannot keep a very deep friendship with Cyprus," Peres added, pointing out that journalists "will not be successful to make us an enemy of Cyprus".

    "We are too friendly, and too understanding and too sincere. You must understand it. We are not going to act against Cyprus neither directly nor indirectly neither openly or secretly. For us Cyprus is an important factor in the overall strategies of the Middle East. We think it can become a great island of great promise and tranquility," Peres concluded.

    CNA MCH/MM/1998

    [03] Cyprus - Israel - Spies

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- Shimon Peres, former Israeli Premier, has called on the Cypriot authorities to understand that two Israelis facing spying charges committed a "mistake but not a crime" and to show mercy.

    He also explained they were fighting terrorism and not acting against Cyprus and said he would like to see them released.

    Speaking at a press conference, at the end of his two day visit here, Peres expressed regret for what he described "a local accident" and said "they (Israelis) did not want to cause any harm or hard feelings between our people".

    Expressing respect for the independence of the judiciary in Cyprus, as far as the case is concerned, he remarked "we can ask for understanding but we cannot force anybody to do anything."

    Replying to questions, he said if Cyprus does not consider this a mistake it would harm bilateral relations and stressed that when fighting terror, one has to fight terrorism.

    Peres appeared reluctant to elaborate on this assertion, when asked to explain it, but stressed they were fighting terror.

    "It was not any attempt to spy on Cyprus or against Cyprus, this is nonsense. It is a local accident which we regret very much because we learnt that it caused some bad feelings among the Cypriot people and this surely we did not want", he noted.

    He rejected press suggestions he had asked President Glafcos Clerides to see that the two Israelis are released.

    Asked if he would like them to be released, he replied "a hundred per cent yes. I think you can show mercy when you understand that you are facing a mistake, not a crime".

    The two Israelis, Udi Hargov, 37, and Igal Damary, 49, were charged with spying, conspiracy to spy and possession of banned listening equipment.

    They are due to appear before Court on Monday.

    CNA MCH/MM/RG/1998

    [04] Peres - Middle East

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- The Palestinians can have their own state but it would be a mistake if they were to declare the creation of a state unilaterally, Shimon Peres, former Israeli Premier and Nobel peace prize winner, said here today.

    "I am for a Palestinian state, the alternative to a Palestinian state is a poor one which means to have one state and two people fighting each other for ever", Peres told a press conference here.

    However he warned that "it would be a mistake to make any step unilaterally" and advocated more negotiations between the Israeli and the Palestinian sides.

    Replying to questions, he said a successful Palestinian state would be a good thing for Israel as this would mean "a better neighbour".

    Commenting on the internal political situation in Israel, he said "today we are closer to elections than ever before. The last developments in the country make the option of elections the most viable and the most immediate one".

    He said the Likud party had made some progress in its approach towards the peace process, noting that "this is an important change which I do not like to ignore or undermine".

    Prime Minister Netanyahu, he explained, cannot move much because he does not have a majority in his own coalition to move ahead.

    "In order to survive he cannot progress and if he has to make progress he is endangering his survival", he told the press.

    Peres backed regional cooperation to solve the water problem many countries are facing and said water should flow freely and should not be an expensive commodity.

    CNA MCH/MM/RG/1998

    [05] Foreign Minister - Missiles - UN

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- The island's political leadership will decide about the issue of the Russian anti-aircraft missiles after the UN Security Council adopts its resolution on Cyprus, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said here today.

    "If, in the next few days, the Security Council and particularly the international community show sufficient and convincing interest and sensitivity towards our security concerns and if this meets one or both of the preconditions we have set out, then the National Council will be in a position to examine these prospects and decide accordingly," the minister said after today's cabinet meeting.

    The government maintains the SAM (surface to air missiles) will be deployed in Cyprus unless productive talks begin or unless the prospect of a reduction of military forces or equipment is in sight with a view to the demilitarisation of the island.

    Kasoulides clarified he was not speaking about cancelling government plans for the missiles but about relevant decisions the National Council (top advisory body to the President) may take on the matter.

    Responding to a question, he said the European Union cannot be indifferent to developments in Cyprus as the island is negotiating its accession to the Union.

    He expressed the hope that the international community will finally prove to the Cyprus people that they understand Cypriots' sense of insecurity due to the continuing Turkish occupation of part of their country and the presence of some 35,000 Turkish troops.

    Referring to the UN-sponsored shuttle talks currently underway, he said "some relative progress has been made" in the separate meetings UN resident representative Dame Ann Hercus holds with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    On her return from New Zealand, the shuttle talks will focus on the issues currently being discussed, including a commitment to reject the use of violence or the threat to use violence and to avoid any increase of military forces and armaments.

    Both parties are committed to discuss the fundamental aspects of the Cyprus issue after the conclusion of the discussion of those issues, he added.

    CNA GG/MM/1998
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