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Turkey will decide on Cyprus, says Clerides
2003-02-05 12:09:08

Limassol, Feb 5 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides believes that at the end of the day Turkey and not the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will take the final decision on a settlement in Cyprus, to serve Ankara's own interests.

President Clerides reiterated his view that there will be historic developments in 2003 with regard to Cyprus, least of all because there are pressure levers that will affect Turkey's European aspirations and policies.

Referring to his decision to seek a limited term in office in this month's presidential elections, Clerides said that a change of negotiator in the middle of negotiations could cause problems in the peace process.

The Cyprus President warned against complacency at the negotiating table following the European Union decision to accept Cyprus in its ranks in May 2004.|

''There is unprecedented interest in Cyprus, the UN, the US and Europe press for a settlement. All this indicates that no matter how intransigent Rauf Denktash is, at the end of the day the decisions will be taken by Turkey to serve its own interests,'' President Clerides said in a speech last night in Limassol.

He said Turkey wants to see the Cyprus question settled and does not wish to see the talks collapse because this would affect its accession course to the EU.

Clerides said that once the leader of the Justice and Development party in Turkey Tayyip Erdogan assumes the premiership, he will have to announce his policy on Cyprus, which should be in line with Turkey's interests, since Erdogan has said that policies of the past on Cyprus were wrong.

''Erdogan knows that if there is no settlement in Cyprus, Turkey will have to recognise the Republic of Cyprus (which now it does not) as Ankara is trying to join the EU. Turkey cannot maintain occupation troops on territory that will be part of Europe,'' he explained.

He said he told the UN Secretary General in three letters that reaching a negotiated settlement by the end of February ''is out of the question'' because there is not enough time to discuss many crucial issues raised in his peace plan.

''We need more time to continue the talks after 28 February,'' the Cypriot President said, referring to a UN deadline for agreement by the end of February.

Commenting on one of the fundamental differences between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, he said the former wants as many Greek Cypriots to return to their homes under Greek Cypriot administration whereas the latter does not want masses of Greek Cypriots living in the Turkish Cypriot administered area of the island, once a settlement is agreed.

He said that Turkish Cypriot demands for changes in the Annan plan that would upset its balance would mean that the Turkish Cypriot side is responsible for the failure of the talks.

''However, if we think that we have the upper hand and begin showing signs of intransigence, then there might be a real danger and the European Parliament may say that accession should wait until a political settlement is found,'' President Clerides said.

The European Parliament will rule separately on the accession of each of the ten acceding countries, including Cyprus, as agreed by the EU summit in Copenhagen. National parliaments of EU member states will have to decide on the accession of all acceding countries as a group.

Explaining his decision to contest the presidency in the upcoming elections, he said he is no ''coward and no deserter'' and did not wish to abandon this effort to reach a solution.

He said a new negotiator who might disagree with what his predecessor could create problems and added ''a change in the negotiating team and different handling of the problem could have deprived us of the respect we gained as honest interlocutors at the talks, working sincerely for a settlement.''

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

CNA SK/MM/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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