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Spokesman: Efforts for a settlement resume at an increased pace
2003-01-14 16:04:20

Nicosia, Jan 14 (CNA) -- Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou announced here today that UN-led peace talks will resume tomorrow with a meeting between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in the presence of Alvaro de Soto, UN Secretary General's special envoy on Cyprus.

The spokesman said after the initial meeting, de Soto will host a working lunch for Clerides and Denktash. None of the two leaders will have any of their advisers at the meeting but a UN officer will be present to take minutes.

Papapetrou said efforts to find a negotiated settlement resume at an increased pace and noted that de Soto's remarks on Monday, at a press conference here, prove that ''not only are we to expect developments but we are amidst developments'' at present.|

Replying to questions, the spokesman said he agreed with de Soto that any changes to a UN proposal on a comprehensive settlement cannot be extensive and pointed out that ''if you want to get, you have to give.''

''I agree that amendments to the UN plan cannot be of an extensive nature, they cannot question the overall philosophy of the plan, nor can they put into question the backbone of this proposal. No side will accept unilateral changes at its expense,'' Papapetrou said.

Invited to comment on de Soto's statement that the choice is between this plan and no agreement at all, Papapetrou said that if this attempt fails, it would take a long time before new efforts materialize.

''I believe that the situation is likely to be worse for Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot side in the sense that time consolidates the faits accomplis and creates new fait accomplis,'' Papapetrou said.

He warned that if this attempt fails to find a negotiated settlement, Turkish Cypriots would probably emigrate from the island's Turkish occupied areas and we will see more Turkish settlers arrive illegally in Cyprus.

He noted de Soto's assessment that Turkey ''strongly supports the achievement of a negotiated settlement on the basis of the Secretary General's plan, in the timeframe that it lays down.''

Replying to questions about the role of the powerful military in Turkey, he said he does not underestimate the Turkish establishment which has different positions on Cyprus than those expressed by the government but said all indications are that the new government of Tayyip Erdogan is consolidating its position by the day.

On Monday's meeting between de Soto and the President, the first after last month's unsuccessful attempt to reach agreement on a settlement, Papapetrou said that de Soto expressed his intention to have direct negotiations and briefed the President on his contacts at the UN and in Turkey.

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

CNA MM/MK/2003

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