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Clerides says time is not enough to find a Cyprus solution
2003-02-18 17:46:39

Paphos, Feb 18 (CNA) ? Outgoing President of the Republic, Glafcos Clerides said here Tuesday he did not believe a solution to the long-standing Cyprus problem could be achieved by the end of the month.

Speaking to reporters on his return from Brussels after attending EU Troika meeting with acceding and candidate countries on Iraq, Clerides said the time until 28 February, as set out in the UN Secretary General's plan for a comprehensive settlement, was very brief, noting the Cyprus problem can not be solved in the three days in which Kofi Annan will be in Cyprus.

Invited to comment on his meeting with Turkish Prime Minister, Abdullah Gul, Clerides said that "we had a brief meeting", adding "we just said that we are in Europe, and anticipate Turkey to enter, and it would be right to speed up a solution to the Cyprus problem".

On Cyprus, Clerides said he already wrote to Kofi Annan that he believed a solution could not be achieved by the end of February. "The time is very brief", the outgoing president said, adding that Annan will be in Cyprus from 26-28 February. "The problem cannot be solved in three days", he added.|

Asked if he will remain in the team of the Greek Cypriot side, negotiating a Cyprus settlement, Clerides said he told the president elect Tassos Papadopoulos that he is ready to give him "any help he needs, either about the talks that took place, clarifications, if he wants to ask my views on things that will take place in the future, I will be available".

However, he said, "it would not be easy for two main interlocutors to be in the same team. One would have to lead the team, and that person will have to be the person who will have the responsibility to sign the solution and it cannot be anyone else but the new president".

Clerides referred to his meeting in Brussels with the President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, who "showed a special interest on how a Cyprus solution would proceed and when a solution could be achieved".

"He repeatedly said that the European Parliament will exert all pressure to find a settlement", Clerides quoted Cox as saying.

Clerides said the European Council decision on Iraq was appreciated by all acceding and candidate countries, while Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis' contribution was praised.

Clerides said for the first time, "Europe is coordinating its foreign policy", noting this was of historic significance and the beginning of European policy on international issues.

He described the decision on Iraq as "very balanced", adding "we supported, just like all, the decision taken on Monday evening. We did not take part in the decision-making, but we were invited to give our views on the decision. We said that we fully support this common policy which was found".

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.

Democratic Party leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, ousted Clerides from office during Sunday's first round of the presidential elections.

CNA/EC/MK/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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