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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 97-10-15

Cyprus Press and Information Office: News Updates in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

News Update

Wednesday, 15/10/97


CONTENTS

  • [01] President Clerides concludes his overseas trip
  • [02] "Peace requires a strong defence", says Akis Tsohatzopoulos
  • [03] US State Department on Cyprus airspace violations
  • [04] German police recovers stolen Cyprus Church treasure
  • [05] Swedish Foreign Minister on Cyprus visit


[01] President Clerides concludes his overseas trip

President Glafcos Clerides returned to Cyprus last night completing a 15- day trip which took him for contacts to New York, Washington, Strasbourg, London and Athens.

Mr Clerides' last stop was Athens where he had a meeting yesterday with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

After their contacts both men reaffirmed their commitment to a Cyprus solution based on UN resolutions and expressed their determination to see Cyprus joining the EU as a full member.

They also said that the Greek Cypriot side was ready to reconsider the building of its defences if the Turkish side accepts President Clerides' proposal for demilitarisation of the island.

They said that important developments are expected during the coming months, especially concerning the issue of Cyprus' accession to the EU.

Arriving at Larnaca airport last night, President Clerides congratulated the Greek Air Force for its participation in the National Guard annual military exercise "Nikiforos '97" and for its reaction to the increased provocations by Turkish jet fighters.

President Clerides was adamant in his proposal for the island's complete demilitarisation, adding, however, that the Greek Cypriot side would be ready to suspend its defence projects only when the proposals for demilitarisation were accepted.

"If the Turkish side does not consent to the armed forces reduction that would lead to an agreed demilitarisation, then we will continue with the joint defence pact and our military built-up", he said.

Clerides assured that US Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, had not asked him to suspend the delivery of the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Cyprus in exchange for suspension of Turkish warplane overflights.

President Clerides said he expected substantive developments in the initiatives towards a Cyprus solution after next year's presidential elections in Cyprus.

[02] "Peace requires a strong defence", says Akis Tsohatzopoulos

President Glafcos Clerides, flanked by the Ministers of Defence of Cyprus and Greece, took the salute of a parade in Larnaca today marking the end of the National Guard military exercises "Nikiforos 97".

Expressing his admiration, President Clerides described the parade as the most impressive so far.

Greek Minister of Defence Akis Tsohatzopoulos also expressed his satisfaction and congratulated the armed forces of Cyprus, underlining that "peace requires a strong defence".

Yesterday, Acting President of the Republic Spyros Kyprianou and Greece's Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos watched the last phase of "Nikiforos 97" and both men expressed full satisfaction with the success of the last day's manoeuvres of the exercise.

[03] US State Department on Cyprus airspace violations

US State Department Spokesman James Rubin urged for a complete open-ended moratorium on over-flights of Cyprus by Greek and Turkish military aircraft.

Mr Rubin, who was replying to press questions related to the recent violation of Cyprus airspace by Turkish military aircraft, noted in his daily briefing yesterday that "the United States Government is working hard and closely with Greece, Turkey and both communities on Cyprus to promote a negotiating process that can lead to a constructive resolution of the Cyprus problem". He added that Ambassador Richard Holbrooke's meetings in New York and his trip last weekend to Ankara were part of that long-term effort.

Moreover, Mr Rubin said that the US has long urged all parties to the Cyprus problem to avoid steps that complicate or detract from efforts to promote dialogue and negotiation. "In this regard, we think fewer military activities are better than more military activities. We were very supportive of Greece, Turkey's and Cyprus' separate and independently arrived at decisions not to have military over-flights of Cyprus, which we announced May 9", he said.

Over-flights have now resumed, he added, but the US hopes and urges all sides to appreciate the benefits of reinstituting a complete open-ended moratorium on over-flights of Cyprus by Greek and Turkish military aircraft at the earliest possible time. "We also urge all sides to show restraint for the remainder of the exercises by the Greek side and the upcoming Turkish exercises", he said.

[04] German police recover stolen Cyprus Church treasure

According to press agency reports the German police have recovered a collection of religious icons plundered 23 years ago from Cyprus churches in the occupied areas. According to the reports the priceless relics were stolen after the Turkish invasion in 1974 from Antifonitis monastery in Kyrenia and Panayia tis Kanakarias in Lythrangomi (Karpassia).

Bavarian authorities told a news conference that a tip-off from Cypriot security services had led them to two apartments in Munich where they discovered a hoard of religious icons including ornate frescoes and mosaics.

They said they had arrested the owner of the apartments, a 60-year-old Turkish archaeologist suspected of having carried out an international trade in religious booty for years.

The suspect faces up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted of dealing in stolen art treasures.

German authorities said the religious works would be returned to the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus once the man's trial was over.

[05] Swedish Foreign Minister on Cyprus visit

Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen arrived in Cyprus yesterday for a three-day visit to discuss the Cyprus problem and the island's accession to the European Union.

The Swedish Foreign Minister is having meetings today with President Glafcos Clerides and House President Spyros Kyprianou as well as her Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides.


From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/


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