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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 03-01-17
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>
Friday, 17 January 2003
 President Clerides gives press conference on Cyprus problem and EU accession"For the first time in the history of the Cyprus problem, the international community shows such great interest in the efforts to find a settlement… It would be a tremendous mistake to change our policy during a time when two things are beginning to arise in the horizon: Firstly, that there is a Turkish government which criticizes its predecessors for their policy vis-a- vis the Cyprus problem, and secondly, that there is an uprising of Turkish Cypriots calling for the reunification of Cyprus and its accession to the European Union.
I would like to state, with this opportunity, that we comprehend the Turkish Cypriots' indignation, because they definitely realise that they will have a better future and the opportunity to escape from their existing economic plight, once a reunified Cyprus joins the EU."
The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Glafcos Clerides, made the aforementioned statement during last night's press conference to the four main pancyprian television stations, which, as he emphasised, was not given for pre-election campaign purposes.
Mr. Clerides, who is running for reelection at the February presidential elections - albeit for a limited term in office - argued that the reason for submitting his candidacy lay in the fact that "2003 will be an important year, during which historical decisions will be made regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem, our own EU accession course, and also Turkey's accession course".
In explaining what "historical decisions" entailed, he cited first the ratification of the enlargement round by the European Parliament (EP), in March 2003, saying that it would be a significant step for Cyprus' accession course, as the EP would vote on the accession of each candidate country separately, unlike the ratification process at the National Parliaments of the 15 EU Member States, which would vote on the accession of all candidates as a package.
Secondly, Mr. Clerides mentioned the singing of Cyprus' Treaty of Accession, in Athens on 16 April 2003, noting that Turkey would be concerned as to who would sign the Treaty on behalf of Cyprus; the President of the Republic, or the two representatives of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, in case of no solution or a solution based on the Annan plan, respectively.
The third issue of importance for Cyprus during 2003, which the President raised, was the European Council of December 2003, under the Italian Presidency of the EU. Mr. Clerides deemed that Turkey would try, there, to secure an earlier date to begin accession negotiations than the one given to it at Copenhagen. In order to achieve that, he added, there would have to be progress on the Cyprus problem.
Lastly, he referred to Cyprus' EU accession on 1 May 2004, which would take place once all the National Parliaments of the Member States had ratified the enlargement round.
As regards the Annan plan, Mr. Clerides noted that the National Council - the President's top advisory body on the Cyprus problem - had taken the right decision, namely "that we should negotiate and see what amendments can be made". He stressed that it was not the number of amendments that mattered, but whether these were substantial or not, and added that any amendments would have to be of substance, without necessarily changing the "overall balance" of the plan, as the UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Cyprus, Mr. Alvaro de Soto, had requested at the beginning of this week.
He also said that any amendments to be made on the Annan plan would have to be in the interest of both communities on the island, and not in the interest of only the Greek Cypriots or only the Turkish Cypriots.
"That is why it is very important that the plan provides for a functional solution. Because, if they [Turkish Cypriots] want a solution of the Cyprus problem, they would like to have a functional Constitution, and we also would like to have those points of the plan that do not lead to a functional solution amended."
 A tragedy to miss opportunity for solution, says UN SpokesmanIt would be a tragedy to let the opportunity for a solution of the Cyprus problem slip away, the UN Secretary-General's Spokesman, Mr. Fred Eckhard, stressed during yesterday's press briefing at UN headquarters.
Asked by journalists to say whether the UN considered the current effort for reaching a settlement as the "last chance", Mr. Eckhard said, "It's the last good chance for a very long time and so our operating assumption is that the talks now taking place must conclude by the end of February in order for there to be time to have the referenda that we discussed on both sides by the end of March. If that opportunity slips by, I think it would be a tragedy."
The UN Spokesman also briefed the press on Mr. Alvaro de Soto's, the UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Cyprus, contacts in Athens with the Greek Foreign Minister, Mr. George Papandreou, and other foreign ministry officials, as well as his meeting with the High Representative for the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, Mr. Javier Solana.
"De Soto returns to Cyprus tomorrow [today], where he will attend a meeting at 4:00pm in the UN protected area in Nicosia, between H.E. Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and H.E. Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader", he added.
 Greek Foreign Minister holds contacts with UN and US envoys on CyprusThe Greek Foreign Minister, Mr. George Papandreou, met yesterday with the UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Cyprus, Mr. Alvaro de Soto, who visited Athens in order to inform the Greek government, currently holding the rotating EU Presidency, on the latest developments regarding the Cyprus problem and discuss the future prospects for reaching a settlement based on the revised Annan plan.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr. de Soto said that a postponement of the 28 February deadline for reaching a solution would be impossible, since Cyprus' Treaty of Accession with the European Union would be signed on 16 April.
He reiterated his belief that a solution by the end of February was still possible, and in light of the "clear messages" from the new administration in Turkey regarding its willingness to contribute to the peace efforts.
On his turn, the Greek Foreign Minister confirmed Greece's commitment to contribute to the UN efforts, with a view to reaching a solution by 28 February, and thanked Mr. de Soto for his incessant work towards that direction, noting that he had the "infinite support of the EU".
Moreover, Mr. Papandreou had a meeting yesterday and with the US State Department's Special Coordinator on Cyprus, Mr. Thomas Weston, who visited the Greek capital prior to his arrival on the island yesterday afternoon.
In statements after the meeting, Mr. Weston said that he was convinced "of the great coincidence of views between Greece and the US on how to move forward on this issue [Cyprus problem]".
Asked to comment on the recent mass demonstrations by Turkish Cypriots in the occupied areas of Cyprus, demanding the resignation of their leader Mr. Rauf Denktash, the US diplomat described them as "unprecedented" and noted: "There can be no doubt that this is an expression of the will of the Turkish Cypriots. We obviously support democratic expressions of the will of the people and we obviously support what they are saying."
From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/