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Clerides: The most crucial period for Cyprus since 1974
2002-07-08 22:00:50

Nicosia, Jul 8 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides has described this period as the most crucial for Cyprus since the start of efforts to secure a negotiated settlement to the division of the island since the Turkish invasion in 1974.

In his address to the first world symposium of Cypriot academia, the President said there is "no reason to be optimistic" at this stage of the ongoing direct talks because no progress has been achieved as a result of the intransigent positions of the Turkish side. He also said that European Union membership for Cyprus is expected to be concluded successfully at the end of the year.

The President called on Cypriot university professors to play an even more effective role in the global effort to inform world public opinion about the situation in Cyprus.

"Our course towards Europe is in its final stages and at the same time we are engaged in negotiations in an attempt to solve the Cyprus question prior to accession," the President told some 100 professors who live and work in 11 countries.

"So far, optimism is not justified in the direct talks, in spite of the constructive approach the Greek Cypriot side displays at the negotiating table", said Clerides, who represents the Greek Cypriot community to the talks.|

On Cyprus' EU accession prospects, he said he believed that "in spite of Turkish threats, there will be no problem and we shall join the EU, with or without a prior solution, which will secure the presence of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in the land of their ancestors and which will be just, viable and consistent with human rights."

He said the contribution of prominent Cypriot academia abroad is "significant" and thanked them all for what they do for their homeland.

"I have no doubt that you will intensify your efforts to help us deal with any obstacles in our struggle to achieve justice and peace, through the exercise of your influence at decision-making centres in the countries where you live," he said.

The symposium, entitled "Cyprus in the 21st century: the role of Cypriot academia", provides a forum for reflection on ways to serve the interests of Cyprus.

The deputy dean of the University of Cyprus Andreas Demetriou said in his remarks that he hoped the symposium will mark the start of increased communication and cooperation among Cypriot academia around the globe.

He said Cypriot professors at universities worldwide had played a "pivotal" role in setting up the University of Cyprus ten years ago. He noted this initial period had helped consolidate the University. "We look to the future with optimism and enthousiasm in spite of difficulties we have to face at times," he added.

Professor Andreas Voskos, coordinator of the Inter-University Research Committee (one of the organizers of the three-day meeting), said that a scholar "can join a national struggle when the struggle is just and when it is a matter of human dignity."

During the symposium, delegates will be briefed by the Foreign Minister, the Attorney General and Cyprus' chief negotiator with the EU. They will also hear from the director of the department of Antiquities about the destruction of the island's cultural heritage in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.

Minister of Education and Culture Ouranios Ioannides said the ministry will support every effort the academia will make to help Cyprus achieve its two important objectives, find a peaceful settlement and join the EU.

Peace talks, under UN auspices, began in mid January with a view at finding a comprehensive settlement. No progress has been made so far because of the insistence of the Turkish side on the creation of two separate states on the island.

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