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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-11-18

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 18, 2002


  • [01] Clerides confers with Greek leadership over crucial UN Cyprus plan
  • [02] Press report cites Annan invitations to Clerides, Denktash for end of Nov.
  • [03] Premier calls for renewal in message for Polytechnic University uprising
  • [04] N17 victims' families: terrorists tried to exploit Polytechnic's symbolism
  • [05] FM to brief Christodoulos on latest foreign affairs developments
  • [06] ND leader attends founding congress of new UMP party in France
  • [07] Japanese, Thai films split 1st place award at Thessaloniki film festival
  • [08] Clerides: Clarifications and modifications of some issues required
  • [09] Commission Vice President hopes united Cyprus to enter EU

  • [01] Clerides confers with Greek leadership over crucial UN Cyprus plan

    Athens, 18/11/2002 (ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos completed a whirlwind round of meetings with Greek leadership over the weekend, including PM Costas Simitis and President Kostis Stephanopoulos, as a recently tabled UN peace plan for the divided east Mediterranean island republic on the eve of Cyprus’ expected EU accession mark probably the most crucial period for resolving the long-standing Cyprus problem.

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis received Clerides on Saturday for an hour and a half meeting before a joint press conference, where Simitis said the first issue discussed was whether the Greek Cypriot side should respond in the affirmative to the plan, thereby allowing negotiations based on the proposed plan to begin.

    Simitis noted that Cyprus’ national council, which will convene on Monday, will of course make the final decision, adding that Clerides told him that most Cypriot parties in the free parts of the island republic backed negotiations.

    ''...and this is the right thing to do, since conducting a dialogue is our standing principle,'' the Greek premier stressed.

    ''There are points which need intensive negotiations and points that should be clarified. We will make our decisions in conjunction with the overall results of the negotiations, depending of course of the willingness of the other side,” Simitis said.

    Simitis also again stressed Athens’ complete solidarity for Cyprus’ EU accession course as well as for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.

    He also stressed that there is a necessity for cohesiveness, sobriety and correct reasoning on the basis of a common line of thinking for the future of a reunited and sovereign Cyprus and on the basis of one common position corresponding with the will of the Cyprus people.

    Clerides, responding to a question on whether substantial changes and amendments to the plan can be made, said: "... we will have to see ... when the negotiations begin,'' adding that it is obvious that both sides will request changes in the text.

    Responding to the same question, Simitis said ''there are points, which we should wrangle with and we will wrangle ... (since) no one is deciding for us''.

    Asked whether this initial text could be signed by the beginning of December, Clerides said again that this will spring from negotiations, before adding that this will also be based on when such negotiations will begin.

    Moreover, in response to a press question, Clerides said he backed the negotiating principle of ''nothing has been decided until all is decided'', adding that this is also UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's position.

    Simitis, on his part, said the ongoing public debate about the plan and possible negotiations was "...weakening the negotiating trump cards of President Clerides''.

    He added that he also confronted the dilemma ''partition or solution'', saying that matters are not so easy and spoke of the major dangers that existed over the years for the Cypriot people and for Greece from the existing condition on the island.

    He also spoke of the issue of the settlement of occupied northern Cyprus by mainland Turkish nationals, citing the danger of establishing an even more profound demographic change of the island’s population if there is no solution.

    New Democracy: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday also met with Clerides to discuss the UN plan. Following the meeting, Karamanlis said ''we had a very interesting and useful discussion with the President or the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Clerides. The president informed us on the developments and the ways that the Annan plan was approached. We had the opportunity as well to state our positions, to present our thoughts.''

    ''In any event, I reassured President Clerides that, with all our power, in this critical juncture, in this difficult struggle, we will be at the side of the Cyprus people and its leadership,'' Karamanlis concluded.

    The veteran Cypriot met on Sunday with former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, himself amongst Greece’s longest serving politicians and the honorary president of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party.

    Afterwards, Mitsotakis said he considers the United Nations’ plan, unveiled by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week, as a basis for further negotiations, while he also said he believes the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides will accept an invitation to negotiate on the basis of the plan.

    He also warned against radicalness and “premature judgments”, saying that if and when an agreement is reached it will be offered for approval in separate referendums by both the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    “We must view the Annan proposal as part of a package for Cyprus’ accession into the European Union; and we would not accept this agreement if we were not facing the accession. Cyprus’ (EU) accession softens-over thorny points and weaknesses, and also provides serious guarantees. The major problem continues to lie in the plan’s functionality,” he said.

    KKE, Synaspismos: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga expressed her party's opposition to the Annan plan, following her meeting with the Cypriot leader.

    Papariga said the plan would lead to a ''deceiving and non-functioning confederation, one based on Cyprus' division''. However, she stressed that only the Cypriot people are responsible, and that no matter what their decision KKE will be on their side. Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Saturday called on all political forces of the country to protect the national interests and move with caution concerning the Cyprus problem, following his meeting with President Clerides.

    Speaking to his party's Central Committee meeting, he said that the UN plan for Cyprus is a compromise for the resolution of a series of problems and a whole complex of relations, at the same time, however, he noted that it would be unwise to make the plan look perfect.

    ''The plan includes positive as well as negative points which of course should be confronted,'' he said.

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas on Saturday criticized the statements and positions of Prime Minister Costas Simitis' on the Cyprus issue, saying that they are ''wrong if seen from a negotiations stand point, damaging the interest of Cyprus and Greece''.

    According to Tsovolas the nucleus of the UN plan to resolve the Cyprus problem is the legalization of the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus.

    Clerides meets Weston: Finally, Clerides also met in Athens with special US mediator for the Cyprus issue Thomas Weston, with the US official saying afterwards that he will continue to have contacts with the Cypriot president with a view to gaining a final and positive result. ''It was another very productive exchange on the issue on which we are both so deeply interested, it was as always an excellent exchange in which I think it was clear once again that we very much share the same goal,'' Weston said.

    The US envoy is due in Ankara on Monday.

    Erdogan: Meanwhile, in a related development, the winner of the recent general elections in Turkey, Justice and Development party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday stated that ''we find the UN Secretary General's plan (for the Cyprus problem) negotiable''.

    Erdogan, in fact, is due to arrive in Athens on Monday for talks with Greek leadership, including PM Simitis.

    Speaking at the northern Turkish occupied part of the island republic over the weekend, moreover, he said that the ''problem should be resolved with mutual concessions, but one should not expect that one side will make all the concessions''.

    The Turkish political leader made a clear connection of the Cyprus issue with the European Union, in contrast with the spirit of the statements made by Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash, who stated in an interview to a Turkish daily newspaper that the time table set by the UN Secretary Annan was imposed by the European Union, something that he considered unacceptable.

    ''The text (of the UN proposals) is full of points that in their present form are unacceptable and if they are not reformulated the signing of an 'initial agreement' would be impossible,'' Denktash said during the interview.

    ''In the event that the plan is presented as a basis of talks, then it would be possible to become the subject of negotiations with the Greek Cypriots, to whom we will show the mistakes and we will note those that are unacceptable to us,'' he said.

    On his part, the man expected to receive the nod to become the next Turkish prime minister, Erdogan's trusted deputy Abdullah Gul, called the text a ''basis for which negotiations can take place".

    Speaking to the CNN-Turk network, where he was asked if he considered the plan positive, Gul said ''if Turkey wants to be a powerful country then we must find a solution to the Cyprus issue.''

    In a Sunday ANA dispatch from Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying that if Cyprus is reunited under the new UN plan, then it should not gain EU accession until Turkey does -- a statement widely reported in the international media as well.

    Erdogan also offered a view, in his latest statements, that if the Annan plan is implemented and a ''new Cyprus is created'', then negotiations with the EU must start from the beginning, with any accession taking place at the same time as Turkey's.

    [02] Press report cites Annan invitations to Clerides, Denktash for end of Nov.

    Athens, 18/11/2002 (ANA)

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reportedly issued invitations to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to meet with him in New York at the end of the month, according to a front-page banner headline by an Athens daily on Sunday.

    According to an article in “To Vima” newspaper, the invitations come in light of Annan’s recently tabled peace plan for Cyprus, a proposal aimed to serve as the basis for negotiations, especially in light of the island republic’s pending EU accession.

    The paper also published portions of what it said were two confidential letters Annan addressed to Clerides and Denktash.

    Among others, the paper quotes Annan as saying that “all the interested parties share the sense of urgency and the desire to see a re-united Cyprus join to the EU in the coming wave of expansion.”

    The UN chief also reportedly said the prospects of EU accession have created the most favorable conditions for a settlement after many years.

    In a related development from New York, Denktash was reported to be suffering from respiratory problems following his recent open-heart surgery. The T/C leader had been scheduled to leave a NYC-area hospital in the next few days.

    [03] Premier calls for renewal in message for Polytechnic University uprising

    Athens, 18/11/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday issued a message in light of the 29th anniversary of the November 17, 1973 uprising of university students against the military dictatorship that ruled the country at the time.

    ''The anniversary of the Polytechnic University of Athens, reminds us that freedom, democracy and social justice are the great ideals and our basic values... It reminds us that the new generation is the birthplace of change and renewal of an outdated political system,'' Simitis said in his message.

    ''The continual message of the great uprising of the Polytechnic University was and remains the continual resistance to every-thing outdated, oppressive, anachronistic and dead, as well as the continual seeking for another political culture,'' he concluded.

    Mostly peaceful marches commemorate Nov. 17 students' uprising: Marches and events to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Nov. 17, 1973 students’ uprising at the Athens Polytechnic took place throughout Greece on Sunday, with the biggest rally being the traditional march through the Greek capital’s downtown streets.

    Police estimated marchers at the Athens rally at around 10,000 -- other press reports varied from 8,000 to 15,000 -- with the main theme this year being opposition to any military action against Iraq as well as banners and slogans against globalization and imperialism.

    Other marches took place in Thessaloniki and on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, among others. Youth groups affiliated with ruling PASOK, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Coalition of the Left, and numerous other leftist, labor and peace groups participated in the marches, with the one in Athens estimated as the biggest in recent years.

    Meanwhile, only sporadic acts of violence and vandalism were reported at this year's march, mostly towards its conclusion outside the US embassy, mirroring a trend of recent years of more-or-less peaceful November 17 commemorations. A few dozen hooded youths were the main source of incidents during the march, as they threw rocks and firebombs at nearby police units on at least a couple of occasions before reaching the embassy. Twelve individuals were arrested, according to reports.

    [04] N17 victims' families: terrorists tried to exploit Polytechnic's symbolism

    Athens, 18/11/2002 (ANA)

    Almost two dozen family members of people killed by the notorious “November 17” terrorist group gathered on Sunday to sharply condemn what they called the terror band’s attempts to exploit and hijack the symbolism and struggles of the 1973 students’ uprising at the Athens Polytechnic – 29 years ago on Nov. 17.

    Members of the “Os Edo” (Enough is enough!) group assembled at a downtown Athens hotel only a stone’s throw from where marchers gathered about an hour later for the annual march in commemoration of the uprising.

    “November 17 was traded upon and exploited by people without ideals; craven murderers and criminals that acted as no more than a gang of robbers and killers,” a statement read out by one of the family members read.

    “The terrorists tried to identify themselves with November 17 in order to gain political and moral legitimization vis-a-vis the Greek people. They sullied the struggles, messages, ideas and ideals that were genuinely expressed in those days by youths of the Polytechnic regarding freedom, democracy, justice and national independence...”

    “...November 17, the Polytechnic, the anti-dictatorial struggle cannot, historically, be smeared by the actions of terrorism’s murderers. They are not implicated by anyone; they do not comprise an alibi for anyone; and they do not legitimize anyone or anything,” the announcement continued.

    [05] FM to brief Christodoulos on latest foreign affairs developments

    Athens, 18/11/2002 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos will receive Foreign Minister George Papandreou at the archdiocese on Monday morning for a briefing on the latest foreign policy developments, according to a press released issued on Sunday by the foreign ministry.

    [06] ND leader attends founding congress of new UMP party in France

    Athens, 18/11/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) president Costas Karamanlis on Sunday hailed the creation of the new and closely watched centre-right political party in France, where he attended the Union of Popular Movement’s (UMP) founding conference.

    “We are connected by common ideas, common views about the present and the future of Europe. Ideas that are already a majority at the European level, and will soon become a Parliament majority in Greece,” he stressed.

    [07] Japanese, Thai films split 1st place award at Thessaloniki film festival

    Athens, 18/11/2002 (ANA)

    Two films, one from Japan and the other from Thailand, shared the top prize at the closing ceremony of the 43rd annual Thessaloniki International Film Festival on Sunday, each winning a “Golden Alexander” award in the best feature-length motion picture category.

    “Mizu No Onna” (Woman of the rain) by Japanese director Hidenori Sugimori and “Sud Sanaeha” (Forever yours) by Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul were the co-winners, splitting the 36,700-euro prize money in the process.

    The second-place “Silver Alexander” award went to “Bungalow”, by Germany’s Ulrich Kohler, along with 22,000 euros in prize money.

    [08] Clerides: Clarifications and modifications of some issues required

    LARNACA 18/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said there is complete accord with the Greek government that the Greek Cypriot side will ask for clarifications on some issues in the plan submitted by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week, and to negotiate the modification of other.

    Speaking Sunday on his return from Athens where he conferred with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the political leadership there, Clerides said they carried out ''an in-depth analysis of the plan''. He also briefed Greek political party leaders and exchanged views.

    On Monday, he will inform the National Council on the results of his deliberations.

    The president also said he informed the UN he does not agree with the provision in the Annan plan, which says the leaders of the two sides shall become Co-Presidents of Cyprus, during the three year transitional period.

    President Clerides stressed that if Turkey does not have the political will to negotiate, then there will not be common ground.

    Asked if the negotiating tactics which the Greek Cypriot side will follow have been decided in Athens, Clerides replied that ''there is complete accord that we have to ask clarifications for some issues and to negotiate the modification of other issues'' in the plan.

    Asked whether the UN Secretary-General had included a letter in his proposal, addressed to both him and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Clerides said, ''there is a letter from the SG on this issue (the plan)''. He also said the SG had told both men, when they last saw him, ''that he would have liked, to meet with us again at the end of November.''

    Asked whether he will undertake to sign the Annan plan before a referendum, Clerides said he will listen to the views of the National Council and if they are unanimous, these bind him.

    ''Glafcos Clerides will listen to the views of the National Council.

    If these views are unanimous, then they are binding on him. If they are majority, he must seriously consider them. When he hears all, if there is unanimity, then he does not have to take any decisions because the National Council decisions bind him. If they are majority, he must give careful consideration to what the majority says, and if he shares their view, then he will act according to what the majority says''.

    Asked how long there should be negotiations, President Clerides said that since there has been a delay in starting the negotiations, and this delay is expected to continue, ''it must be considered that the time left is not sufficient to complete the negotiations''.

    To a question whether he agrees with the provision in the Annan plan, which says that during the transitional time of the three years, the leaders of the two sides shall become Co-Presidents of Cyprus Clerides said: ''I have already informed the SG's representative that I do not agree with this provision, nor the period provided''.

    Clerides said however that he has always maintained that if a plan was to be submitted, ''there will be issues which satisfy us, and other issues which do not. Issues, which satisfy us, don't satisfy the Turkish side. That is why there are complaints from both sides''.

    Asked whether the Greek Cypriot side will submit the answer to the peace plan on Monday, Clerides said this is a matter which will be discussed Monday at the National Council.

    Invited to comment on statements made Saturday by Turkey's Justice and Development Party leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan who associated Cyprus' accession to the European Union with Turkey's accession course, Clerides said, ''Europe will not alter its course because Mr. Erdogan says that for Cyprus to enter the EU, Turkey should accede simultaneously. This has been clarified a number of times by Europe,'' he added.

    The president clarified that what ''will affect the negotiations is whether they (Turkey) have the political will to negotiate. If they don't have the willingness to negotiate, then there will not be common ground,'' he added.

    Invited to comment on statements made by British envoy, Lord David Hannay, that there is no negotiation on the issues of sovereignty, citizenship and others, Clerides said, ''this specific point is a reply to the Turkish side which demands that it should have separate sovereignty.''

    Answering another question Clerides noted that ''this island, in its long history, has passed through many times which were considered critical or the most important and survived. I think it will survive this time too''.

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has submitted on November 11, 2002, a plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem and has asked both sides to reply in seven days.

    Denktash, who was scheduled to return to the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus on Saturday from New York, has been readmitted to hospital following worsening of his condition. He underwent open-heart surgery on October 7 in New York.

    [09] Commission Vice President hopes united Cyprus to enter EU

    LARNACA 18/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Vice President of the European Commission, Loyola de Palacio, who arrived here Saturday for an official three-day visit, expressed hope that the proposal submitted Monday by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will facilitate the progress forward in order to have a ''full Cyprus in the EU.''

    At the same time, Loyola De Palacio, who is also Commissioner, Responsible for Relations with the European Parliament, Energy and Transport, praised Cyprus for improving the quality of its fleet in the last year and adopting the standards which are demanded and are binding being a member of the EU.

    De Palacio said she was "glad that Cyprus has very much improved the quality of its fleet in the last year" and adopted the standards which are demanded and which are binding being a member of the EU".

    She said she is on the island during "a very special moment for Cyprus and its future, it is a moment of hope, and I want to say we all hope that this proposal which is on the table, shall facilitate the steps forward, having full Cyprus in the EU, being full member in 2004".

    The Commission's Vice President stressed "what must be said very clear, is that in any case, Cyprus shall be a member of the EU, and this shall be again manifested by the head of states and government in the next European Council to be held in Copenhagen".

    This, she said, was "already said in Brussels at the last European Council and Copenhagen and it shall be again stated with concrete data".

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