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No concessions made on fundamental issues, President says
2002-10-07 14:55:21

Nicosia, Oct 5 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides has stressed that no concessions have been made by the Greek Cypriot side at the UN-led peace talks on two fundamental issues (sovereignty and future existence of the Republic of Cyprus).

He indicated that should things at the talks reach such point of development, next year's presidential elections might have to be postponed.

Speaking on his return from New York where he had two days of intensive negotiations with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, he said there is not going to be a permanent division of Cyprus which will be recognized, as Denktash has threatened if Cyprus joins the European Union without a political settlement.|

''In our discussions, I did not detect any bridging of the gap in the fundamental positions of the two sides on the core issues (governance, security, territory and property),'' the President said.

He said the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had proposed to set up two ad hoc bilateral technical committees ''so as we do not waste any time'' due to the incapacity, for the time being, of the Turkish Cypriot leader to be at the talks for health reasons (the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will undergo heart surgery on Monday in a New York hospital).

One committee, the President explained, will prepare bills about the functioning of the central government and the federal states to enable them to work.

The second committee will look into the treaties the Republic of Cyprus has signed so far and treaties that were signed and see which can continue to exist.

''These committees will put forward suggestions, the decisions will be taken at the negotiating table,'' he said.

The President clarified that each side will present the treaties it has signed and the committees will examine which ones are in line with the new constitution that will be agreed upon, if there is a political settlement.

''This is an attempt for the two sides to say, we (the Republic of Cyprus) as a state have signed such and such treaty and we (apparently the Turkish Cypriot side) have signed these treaties, if any,'' he explained.

On the objective of the decision to set up the committees, Clerides said this is ''an attempt by the Secretary General to maintain the peace process alive and make the best use of the time ahead (because of the absence of Denktash for health reasons) to deal with matters that will be applied, if there is a settlement.''

Replying to questions, the President stressed that the Secretary General did not refer to ''a new state'' but to a ''new state of affairs'', meaning a new legal situation, and pointed out that if there is a solution and a new constitution, different to the 1960 constitution, then there will be a new state of affairs.

On the use of the term ''common state'', the President said there will be a common state if there is a solution and explained that terms of this kind, applied at the talks, are not binding but a way to describe something.

Asked if there is an effort to satisfy the demands of the Turkish side, the President stressed that the Secretary General is not trying to please either one or the other side, but he is trying to see how their views will be bridged.

Replying to questions on the differences in the positions of the two sides, the President said these relate to the most fundamental issues, that of sovereignty and that of whether there will be a new state of Cyprus or a continuation in some form of the Republic of Cyprus.

''There is a big chasm in our positions on these particular issues, and this has prevented any discussion on territory, the powers of the executive and the constituent states,'' he explained.

Denktash insists on the creation of two separate sovereign states which will enter into an agreed arrangement and on the abolition of the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus.

Clerides is working for a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which will be a transformation of the Republic and not a new state, but acknowledges that it will have a new constitution, to be agreed upon at the negotiating table.

Invited to comment on the delay in the negotiating process, which could coincide with important decisions on Cyprus' accession to the European Union, the President said Annan had asked them to keep November free of any engagements to have new meetings.

''The Secretary General has said he has not decided yet if he will submit any plan for a solution or ideas on Cyprus,'' Clerides said.

Commenting on Denktash's warning that accession of Cyprus to the EU prior to a solution would mean permanent division, the President said ''there is not going to be a permanent division that is recognized.''

Asked if he has decided to rerun for the presidency, he said ''nobody has asked me about that and many may have thought about it but I have not.''

''If there is no solution by the time of the elections, (February next year), it will be up to the new president to take the reins and continue the work for a solution,'' he said.

However, he said if things are too close to a settlement, the presidential elections might have to be postponed.

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