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Clerides does not expect major developments
2003-01-02 15:51:27

Nicosia, Jan 2 (CNA) ? President Glafcos Clerides has said he does not anticipate at this stage any major developments with regard to a political settlement, because of the different approaches on Cyprus expressed by the Turkish government on one hand and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and those backing Denktash's policies on the other.

''Turkey's stance on Cyprus is expected to be clarified at some point. This current phase requires strong nerves, firmness in our positions and at the same time we have to consolidate further the view that the absence of a solution is not due to our unwillingness or lack of political will," the President said.|

These, he pointed out, are fundamental elements of the policy which should be followed in the next months.

Asked how the Greek Cypriots can show solidarity with the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied areas of Cyprus, in their demonstrations in favour of a solution and accession to the European Union, President Clerides said that "we welcome this, but we should not get involved in it, because the mobilizations are an internal matter of the Turkish Cypriot community".

The President explained that the situation in the Turkish occupied areas seems to be due to the EU decision to accept Cyprus as a full member.

''The Turkish Cypriots are expressing their concerns. They want to see a solution, to be able to enjoy with us the benefits of the EU", he added.

Noting that during the efforts for a solution, "we should not ignore the new developments in Europe", Clerides said that "from this standpoint, accession to the EU has great significance and sends the message to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots that the principle of two states with borders is outdated and that the only solution that can be achieved is through the spirit of European unity".

"Decisions on certain issues which were of enormous significance for one or the other community will not be taken in Cyprus", once the country joins the EU, he explained.

On EU membership, the President said that as far as procedure is concerned the European Parliament and subsequently the national parliaments of the member states will have to ratify enlargement.

Clerides did not shed light on whether he intends to seek re-election during the February 2003 presidential elections.

He was quoted as saying in an interview with Reuters Thursday that he is considering re-election, although he has not decided. "If a solution is found on the 25th or 28th of February there will not be any reason for me to ask to continue as President of the Republic of Cyprus,'' Clerides told Reuters. ''If it's not, then it would be very unwise in the middle of the negotiations to walk out and give the matter to somebody else.''

Asked by reporters if his statement to Reuters meant he would seek re- election, Clerides replied "no".

"Whoever begins negotiations should inform his successor to know what's going on", he added.

The Copenhagen European Council in December 12-13 has invited Cyprus, along with nine other countries, to join the European Union in May 2004 as full members. The accession treaty will be signed during the Greek EU Presidency. Greece assumed EU's rotating presidency from Denmark yesterday.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is making 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 10 December 2002.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.


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