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Government does not intend to shift from its positions
2002-05-16 11:31:03

Nicosia, May 16 (CNA) -- Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has made it clear here today that the Greek Cypriot side does not intend to alter its positions on the Cyprus question, adding that "no element capable of making our side more optimistic or which underlines any change, even a verbal one, to the way the Turkish side addresses issues", has come up during the visit to the island of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Papapetrou announced that Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides would be flying to Athens on May 22 for deliberations with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis. He will return to the island on May 23.

"We deemed that this is the appropriate time to jointly analyse things in detail and exchange views because Cyprus talks are at a crucial point, given the fact that it has been quite a time since the talks started and no progress has been achieved," he added.|

President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been engaged in UN-led direct talks since mid-January this year, with a view to negotiate until a settlement is reached. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

The President will fly to Athens, accompanied by Attorney General Alecos Markides, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros.

Papapetrou also said the National Council, top advisory body to the President for the handling of the Cyprus problem, will convene tomorrow afternoon. The next meeting between the leaders of the two communities, within the framework of UN-led direct talks, will take place tomorrow morning.

Invited to name ways by which the process could be accelerated, the Government Spokesman noted that "there is a magic formula to accelerate the process in an outstanding way and that is the change of the Turkish political approach, the change of their (the Turkish side's) political intention in a manner that would pave the way for a solution, as provided for in UN resolutions."

Asked whether the Greek Cypriot side was satisfied with Annan's visit and approach, Papapetrou reiterated that President Clerides' meeting with the UN Chief yesterday was very good.

"The Secretary General tried during his stay here to create mechanisms and ways to accelerate the process and make it more substantive, but what will come out or what will be considered to have been achieved from this visit we can not judge now, so let us be patient and see how things work out," the Government Spokesman added.

He said the government did not intend to change its policy, which has been shaped in cooperation with Athens, as "it is a proper policy that safeguards in the best way the Cyprus people's benefits and our political pursuits."

Invited to say whether the UN Secretary General had exerted any pressure on the Turkish Cypriot side to alter its stance, Papapetrou said Annan's concern was to see the current situation changing and the building up of a momentum for the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Annan visited Cyprus to give a boost to the UN-led talks. He left today.

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