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Clerides clears mist over interview with Turkish daily
2003-01-24 13:19:56

Nicosia, Jan 23 (CNA) - President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides today clarified all speculations around his interview with Turkish daily ''Hurriyet'', saying what he told the newspaper was that ''it is not proper in the middle of a negotiation to change the team of negotiators''.

''Hurriyet'' had reported that President Clerides said he preferred Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to remain the negotiator of the Turkish Cypriot side in UN-led talks underway to solve the Cyprus problem.

President Clerides said today that if the negotiating team changed, then ''instead of moving forward to solve the Cyprus problem, will be going backwards'', because the new negotiator may have different views and ''we will start all over again''.

''As Denktash remains the negotiator, I have no right to say that he has to leave'', the President said, adding that ''you cannot sit and negotiate with a person and tell him that you do not want him, this is common sense''.

He added that if the Turkish side decided to change its negotiator, then ''we will accept this''.

Replying to questions, President Clerides said his view could not be construed as supporting Denktash.|

Invited to comment on an interview Denktash gave to ''Hurriyet'', President Clerides said the Turkish Cypriot leader would have made a grave mistake if he had said that he did not wish to negotiate with Glafcos Clerides. Denktash cannot say who will be the Greek Cypriot side's negotiator, the President added.

To an observation that Denktash reportedly told ''Hyrriyet'' he did not want to negotiate with President of the Democratic Party and candidate for the presidency of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos, President Clerides said it was not up to Denktash.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Clerides and Denktash are currently engaged in UN- led talks aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement. Presidential elections are to be held in the government-controlled areas of the Republic next month.


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