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Clerides determined to continue peace talks
2002-12-23 14:51:15

by Kyriakos Tsioupras -- London, Dec 23 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides is determined that peace talks on Cyprus must continue with a view to pursue a just and viable settlement by February 28, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has said.

Speaking to London Greek Radio (LGR), Papapetrou said that after yesterday's statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash President Clerides is not very optimistic.

In an interview with Turkish daily ''MILLIYET'' Denktash said he objects to the territorial adjustments suggested in a UN peace plan, he opposes the proposed system for the presidency of the state of Cyprus and does not favour the return of Greek Cypriot refugees to their homes, in the areas of the Republic occupied by Turkey for the past 28 years, which are destined to be returned to Greek Cypriot administration, under the UN plan.|

Denktash also said that if there is no agreement by February 28 he would bring a new proposal to the EU, suggesting that the 15-nation bloc signs an ''agreement'' with the Turkish Cypriot regime, which no state but Turkey recognises, to enable the self-styled regime to join the EU the same time as Turkey.

Referring to a proposed visit to Cyprus by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Papapetrou said that ''it will offer a good chance to plan the next moves of the Greek Cypriot side.''

Papapetrou said that Simitis had expressed his wish to visit Cyprus a long time ago and said that the Greek premier ''is most welcomed.''

''It will be a chance for Cyprus to express to Mr. Simitis and to Greece its gratitude for the major help towards our accession to the EU,'' he added.

Simitis told a press conference during the EU summit earlier this month that he intends to visit the island in April next year, as president of the European Council (Greece assumes the EU six monthly rotating presidency on January 1).

Replying to questions in relation to February's presidential elections, bearing in mind Simitis' remarks on the matter, Papapetrou said that Simitis believes that it would be detrimental for the Greek Cypriots to send the message that they are now engaged in the elections and not in the peace process to find a negotiated settlement.

''That is why I hope that political parties will show the necessary responsibility and avoid sending such a message,'' Papapetrou added.

Simitis had said he has nothing to do with the elections in Cyprus but called for careful thought.

Cyprus was invited by the European Council in Copenhagen to join the EU along with other nine countries.

It has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is pursuing efforts to bring about a settlement of the Cyprus problem by the end of February 2003, on the basis of his revised proposals presented to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides on December 10.


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