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2002-02-15 13:48:31

Nicosia, Feb 15 (CNA) - Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has said that although there is not much room for optimism, the peace process in Cyprus must be given a push in order for it to be fruitful, adding that if this process failed, it would not be the Greek Cypriot side's fault.

Referring to UNFICYP's announcement yesterday that the talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would be held twice a week instead of thrice, as of March 1, Papapetrou said this was a technical issue, in an effort aimed at "intensive negotiations" and "the better and in depth preparation" of the two sides for each meeting.|

At his daily briefing, Papapetrou said "nothing will change", because the same number of hours per week will be allocated to the talks, with the only difference being that they will be held twice a week.

He added it was imperative that "the two sides succeed in reaching an agreement through meeting points", noting that "the framework in which these meeting points can be achieved is nothing other than the Security Council resolutions, the acquis communautaire and human rights".

Papapetrou noted that when the talks resume on March 1, after a short break commencing next week, "we expect a change in the political position of the Turkish side, we expect the expression of such political will that will make a compromise on the Cyprus question feasible".

He added, however, that "although there is not much room for optimism and although the history of the Cyprus problem should make everyone cautious, at the same time, since this process continues, we must give it every push in order for it to yield the greatest possible results".

The Spokesman reiterated that if this effort failed, it would be clear that it is not the Greek Cypriot side that is responsible. Asked if foreign envoys shared this view, Papapetrou said "no person on planet Earth could have any doubts" about this, adding that "the government is preparing itself for all possibilities.

Replying to questions, Papapetrou said the Greek Cypriot side had stressed that "there cannot be a process without the presence of the United Nations" and noted that the role of the UN chief's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto was "set out in UN resolutions".

Referring to Cyprus' European Union accession course, the Spokesman reiterated it was a catalyst for a Cyprus settlement, adding that this process "affects developments and we hope that there are such developments that will truly lead to a solution of the Cyprus problem".

On the same day, February 14th, the Press Spokesman of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Fred Eckhard made the following statement to the press:

"Cypriot leaders to break talks for period of reflection. Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, met today at the UN-Protected Area in Nicosia. They will meet again Friday as earlier planned. They will have one more meeting on Tuesday, February 19 before breaking in light of the Bayram (Muslim holiday) and for a brief reflection period.

During this break, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto will travel to New York to report to the Secretary-General and to brief the members of the Security Council. The talks will resume on Friday, March 1. Clerides and Denktash also reviewed the pace of their work so far. They have decided that it would be more effective to have longer meetings with more time in between, so as to concentrate efforts and allow more time for preparation. Accordingly, as of 1 March, they will be meeting on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings, except as otherwise agreed."

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