Speaking after the inauguration ceremony, President Clerides referred to the small number of Cypriot artifacts exhibited in Greek museums and said he would be happier if Cypriot culture had a greater presence in the Greek National Archaeological Museum among other exhibits of Greek civilization.
The Museum of Ancient Cypriot Art and History aspires to bridge this gap, the President said, adding that it is also a model and a proof of the cooperation between Greek and Cypriot institutions and between the private and public sectors.
President Clerides thanked Mr Dimitris Pierides, Chairman of the Pierides Foundation, for his contribution to the protection of Cyprus' cultural heritage. The exhibition includes 150 terracotta, stone and pottery pieces from Mr Pierides' collection of Cyprus' ancient art from the Chalcolithic Period to the Middle Ages.
Concluding the President said that the museum should be considered as part of Cyprus' contribution to the Cultural Olympiad.
For his part President Stephanopoulos said that antiquities exhibited at the Museum are works of great artistic and historical value that prove the common civilisation and the common culture and history of Greece and Cyprus.
Referring to the Cyprus problem and in particular to the Turkish Cypriot leader's refusal to participate in the next round of UN proximity talks on Cyprus, President Clerides said that what is important is not how one brings Turkey and Mr Denktash to the negotiating table, but with what intention Turkey would come to negotiate.
He expressed the belief that "Turkey would come with the will to negotiate if it was made clear to her by the United Nations, the Security Council, the Secretary General, Europe, as well as by the new US government that these negotiations should be held in the framework of UN resolutions".
President Clerides agreed that it would be good if relations between Greece and Turkey were to improve because a better climate would be created that would facilitate negotiations for a solution of the Cyprus issue. He said however that the Greek government would not desire to continue improving its relations with Turkey, if the Turkish side continues not to negotiate and to insist that the so-called 'Turkish Cypriot state of Northern Cyprus' should be recognized.
Cyprus's accession to the European Union by the year 2002-2003 would be a leverage on Turkey, the President said. He pointed out that because Turkey wishes to become a member of the United Europe it would be very difficult and even impossible for the EU to accept it if Turkey did not comply with the conditions imposed on her. One of the conditions is that Turkey should assist in the efforts for a solution of the Cyprus problem, which of course, must be in line with the acquis communautaire, he added.