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Clerides: I do not expect a solution by February 28
2003-02-02 22:03:57

Larnaca, Feb 2 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said today he was not expecting the Cyprus problem to be solved within the timeframe set out by the UN, which is February 28, 2003, but reiterated his belief that 2003 will be a year of historic developments for the Cyprus problem.

Answering questions by the press, Clerides said the territorial issue was not yet discussed at the ongoing UN-led talks between him and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, because the latter refused as of January 2002 and until October 2002, to discuss it. Now he said that he is ready to discuss it and we will do so within the next days, Clerides added.|

Invited to say whether UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to submit a new revised peace plan at the negotiations, Clerides said that it seems that Annan has not yet decided about this but is still thinking about it.

He is the one, who will decide and right now ''he is looking into this issue,'' Clerides added.

Asked about the stance of the leader of the Turkish ruling party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Cyprus, Clerides said Erdogan is expected when he becomes Prime Minster, to say which policy he will follow.

Invited to comment on a decision by the Turkish Security National Council, which expressed its strong support to Denktash, Clerides recalled that ''one of the conditions the EU has set out for Turkey is that the involvement of the military in political issues must be reduced - or even eliminated - and this is perhaps one of the issues Erdogan will refer to when the right time comes''.

Answering another question Clerides said ''I do not expect that there will be a solution by February 28.''

I expect, he added, ''that 2003 will be a year of historic developments for the Cyprus issue and I believe that both the EU Greek Presidency and Turkey's efforts to get aligned with EU demands, with a view to move on with her accession, will affect positively the settlement of the Cyprus problem.''

In a speech earlier during a ceremony at Saint Marina's and Saint Raphael's Church, in Xylotybou, Larnaca, Clerides said that the opportunity which exists for a solution to the Cyprus problem must not be lost.

Clerides said that ''a united Cyprus will serve the rights of all of us, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and a right solution will bring us much closer than ever before.''

''A united Cyprus will be a secure Cyprus,'' Clerides said adding that ''we devote all of our potentials to reach a solution the soonest possible.''

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.


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