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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 03-02-26

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 <>

  • [01]Wednesday, 26 February 2003 President-elect satisfied with contacts in Athens
  • [02] Annan: Postponing agreement beyond early March would mean 'no' to EU accession of united Cyprus
  • [03] Straw urges both sides not to let historic opportunity for settlement slip away
  • [04] Prodi calls all parties concerned to step up efforts for solution
  • [05] Bush and Simitis note their strong support for UN Secretary-General's settlement plan
  • [06] Pat Cox welcomes UN Chief's visit to Cyprus
  • [07] US Spokesman reiterates Washington' support to UN peace efforts
  • [08] US Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone condemns human rights violations by Turkey in Cyprus

    [01] President-elect satisfied with contacts in Athens

    The President-elect, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, who returned from Athens yesterday, said that he was satisfied with his meetings in the Greek capital. Speaking upon arrival, at Larnaca airport, Mr Papadopoulos noted that he had discussed with the Greek Premier, the Greek House President and the political party leaders, the present phase of the Cyprus problem as well as possible developments in the near future, adding, "They all reconfirmed their firm support to the positions of the Greek Cypriots side, and assured me that they will stand by the Cyprus people." "We have agreed on handling tactics and our positions, and we reviewed the new Memorandum that Mr de Soto handed to me, which might constitute a part of the third Annan plan", he said referring to his meeting with Mr Simitis. With regard to Cyprus' EU accession course, Mr Papadopoulos stressed that from his meetings he was assured that no problem would arise in that respect. "I have the assurances of the Greek government and the political parties, and of all in general, about Greece's firm support in the joint course towards the achievement of common goals. I am generally satisfied, and I feel stronger and with greater confidence to handle the developments to follow", the new Cyprus President said. Asked by reporters to say if the memorandum that had been presented by the UN fell within the acceptable framework of the Secretary-General's previous plans and could constitute a basis for negotiation, Mr Papadopoulos emphasised that the memorandum was not the Annan plan, but "a summary of what we had talked about, what the United Nations believe could be possible solutions". He further said, "Some points of the memorandum, I believe, will be incorporated in the third plan to be submitted." Invited to comment on the British government's offer to return part of the Sovereign Base Areas in the framework of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, he said that it was "an encouraging development, which we must welcome." "Let's hope that gradually all the Bases' territory will be returned either to the Republic of Cyprus or the new state that will be created", he added, pointing out, at the same time, that the British offer was made on two conditions, that there would be a solution and that the solution would be found within the timeframe set by Mr Kofi Annan.

    [02] Annan: Postponing agreement beyond early March would mean 'no' to EU accession of united Cyprus

    The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, said that a few days delay to the February deadline for reaching an agreement on a settlement would be acceptable, but warned that "postponing agreement beyond early March would amount to saying no to EU accession by a united Cyprus." Speaking upon his arrival to Athens yesterday, after a trip to Turkey, Mr Annan stressed that his "paramount interest this week" was the Cyprus problem, despite the international deliberations on Iraq. "There is an extraordinary opportunity at hand to solve it [the Cyprus issue], and I wish to make every effort in my power to see that the opportunity is not missed", he said, adding that "if this opportunity is missed, it is not clear whether another will occur any time soon." The Secretary-General further noted that he provided all parties concerned - the Greek Cypriot side, the Turkish Cypriot side, Greece and Turkey - with a memorandum entailing a preview of the elements of what he hoped would be the final revision of his plan, which would be handed to the two sides "shortly", during his visit to the island. "The revisions I have in mind will not come as a surprise to the parties. They are the culmination of the most intensive process of negotiations that has ever occurred on the Cyprus problem", Mr Annan said. He also said that his revised plan represented "a best effort by the United Nations to help the parties reach an agreement", adding that the rest was up to them, "to Greece and Turkey, and ultimately, to the people on both sides." Asked by reporters to say what message he would convey to Cyprus if there was no agreement by the first week of March, the UN Chief replied, "We'll jump the bridge when we get there. I think that I have indicated that it is in their interest to work with us to find an agreement urgently and I hope we will. Don't give up before the fight is over." On his recent trip to Turkey and his consultations with government officials, he said that he was "encouraged and heartened", as the officials "understand and accept the urgency and the need to make progress and they do accept the fact that they would want to see a united Cyprus in the European Union and they are going to do whatever they can to assist me in my efforts." Moreover, speaking after his meeting with the Greek Prime Minister and European Council President, Mr Costas Simitis, yesterday evening, the UN Secretary-General expressed the belief that his revised plan would be "very helpful" in leading the two sides towards a negotiated settlement. He stressed, replying to a question, that "the timeframe is important, it is a real one, it is not an artificial deadline given the fact that you need to have referenda by 30 March and if you went backwards you realise that you do have a timeframe within which you operate and we have been discussing this issue…" He also said that he was looking forward to working with the new Cyprus President and interlocutor of the Greek Cypriot side, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, and expressed hope that in the not too distant future there would be "something to celebrate" in Cyprus. The UN Secretary-General is expected to the island at 2:00 p.m. today for a three-day visit. According to UNFICYP sources, he will meet with the outgoing Cyprus President, Mr Glafcos Clerides, the President-elect, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktash.

    [03] Straw urges both sides not to let historic opportunity for settlement slip away

    The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr Jack Straw, urged both sides in Cyprus "not to let this historic opportunity to heal the division of Cyprus slip away and to go the last mile to conclude negotiations and secure the settlement." In a written statement, the Foreign Secretary underlined that the British Government's aim remained a comprehensive settlement in time for a reunited Cyprus to accede to the European Union on 16 April. For this to happen, "the UN has set 28 February as the deadline for a decision on the Secretary-General's proposals", he said. Mr Straw pointed out that on Sunday, 23 February, the UN Secretary General "put forward ideas to the two sides on how he might revise his 10 December proposals, and is consulting the governments in Ankara and Athens before his historic visit to Nicosia". President-elect Mr Tassos Papadopoulos "has made clear that the change of government underway in Cyprus will not impede the UN timetable," he added. Noting that the United Kingdom had "supported the UN throughout this process, and has welcomed the balanced and comprehensive settlement proposals tabled by the Secretary-General", he urged "both sides now to secure a settlement." Referring to the intensive negotiations that followed the Copenhagen European Council, the British Secretary said that it became clear that the issue of territorial adjustment was "a key one" needing to be resolved if there was going to be a settlement. The British government, therefore, "gave urgent consideration to whether it could in some way help to bridge the remaining gap" and "a decision was reached to inform the UN Secretary-General that Britain would be prepared to cede part of the UK's Sovereign Base Areas and this offer has now been included in the UN Secretary-General's ideas of 23 February," he said. The Foreign Secretary explained that the offer consisted of 45 square miles, just under half of the total area of the Sovereign Base Areas, which "makes up 1.2% of the area of the new state of affairs in Cyprus". "The areas involved would bring a number of Cypriots living near Limassol, and in Dhekelia SBA, within the administration of their respective constituent state", he said, adding that it would also open up areas of coastline for possible development.

    Concluding, Mr Straw made it clear that the offer "would only become valid if there were agreement by both sides to the UN proposals", adding that in the event Cyprus rejected the proposals or the proposals were rejected in a referendum by either side in Cyprus, the offer, along with the rest of the UN proposals, would become "null and void."

    [04] Prodi calls all parties concerned to step up efforts for solution

    The President of the European Commission, Mr Romano Prodi, expressed yesterday his strong preference for the accession of a united Cyprus to the European Union" and "called all parties concerned to step up efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem". The statement issued by the European Commission reads as follows: "President Prodi expresses strong preference for accession of a united Cyprus to the EU. President Prodi repeated today his strong preference for the accession of a united Cyprus to the EU. In view of the imminence of 28th February, he gives full support to the final push of the UN and calls all parties concerned to step up their efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem. Respect of this date would allow sufficient time for the planned referendum to be held on 30 March. It would also allow the united Cyprus to meet the imperative deadline of 16 April as regards the signature of the Accession Treaty. President Prodi reiterated that the acquis should not be an obstacle to a settlement. The Union is ready to accommodate the terms of a settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principals on which the European Union is founded. President Prodi recalled the Commission's willingness to organize an international Donor Conference to secure financial means for the implementation of the UN Plan."

    [05] Bush and Simitis note their strong support for UN Secretary-General's settlement plan

    White House Spokesman Mr Ari Fleischer stated during his regular briefing yesterday that US President George Bush and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis discussed the Cyprus problem during a telephone conversation in the morning The Spokesman said that the two leaders "noted their strong support for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's settlement plan dealing with the situation in Cyprus", and "pledged to do everything possible to foster settlement, as outlined in the Secretary-General's plan."

    [06] Pat Cox welcomes UN Chief's visit to Cyprus

    The President of the European Parliament, Mr Pat Cox, welcomed the UN Secretary-General's visit to Cyprus and reiterated the EU's preference for the accession of a reunited Cyprus to the Union. In a press statement, issued last Monday, Mr Cox noted the following: "On the eve of the visit of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan, to Cyprus, and in the context of the convincing electoral victory of President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos, whom I warmly congratulated on election-night, I would urge all the authorities on the island of Cyprus, in a spirit of give-and- take within the parameters of the Annan Plan, to seize this opportunity for reconciliation and lasting peace. The prospect of a reconciled Cyprus joining a reconciling Europe is one earnestly still to be desired."

    [07] US Spokesman reiterates Washington' support to UN peace efforts

    The US State Department's Deputy Spokesman, Mr Philip Reeker, reiterated Washington's support to the efforts by the UN Secretary-General in resolving the Cyprus problem, urging the parties concerned not to let the historic opportunity for a solution slip away. Speaking during yesterday's press briefing, Mr Reeker said, in reply to a question on Cyprus, "We think there's a historic opportunity to find a solution to this long-standing problem in Cyprus, and we're urging the Turkish Cypriots, the Greek Cypriots, Greece and Turkey to take this opportunity to work as hard as possible, as we are, to find a way to that solution that I think stands before us all, and that's what we'll continue to encourage." He added that the State Department's Special Coordinator on Cyprus, Mr Thomas Weston, had been very active in helping to support the UN Secretary-General's peace efforts in Cyprus. Moreover, a large part of yesterday's press briefing was naturally spent on answering questions regarding the Iraqi crisis. One particular question referred to the right of a post-war Iraqi government to order the withdrawal of all Turkish troops stationed on its soil. After some evasive replies by the Spokesman, the reporter making that question wondered whether the Iraqi government would be facing the same problem as the Cyprus government had since 1974.

    [08] US Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone condemns human rights violations by Turkey in Cyprus

    The US Democratic Congressman for New Jersey, Mr Frank Pallone, referring to the Cyprus problem in a letter to the US Secretary of State, Mr Colin Powel, on 24 February 2003, condemned the continuation of the illegal military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey: "Presently the Turkish armed forces continue their twenty-nine year illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus, making 200,000 Greek Cypriots refugees in their own country after falling victim of a policy of ethnic cleansing and being forcibly evicted from their homes. If the US allows Turkey to establish the occupation of Northern Iraq, the democratic ideals that President Bush touts so regularly to justify this war will be left on the side of the road to Baghdad."

    From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at

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