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Clerides says historical developments in 2003 make his candidacy a must
2003-01-16 22:51:35

Nicosia, Jan 17 (CNA) ? Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said historical developments on Cyprus would take place in the year 2003 for the Cyprus problem, which led to his decision to run for re-election during next month's presidential elections.

In a press conference on Thursday evening to the four main pancyprian television stations, Clerides said that if a solution to the Cyprus problem was reached before the end of the 16-month mandate he is seeking, he will resign earlier.

The President said it would be a tremendous mistake if the Greek Cypriot side changed its policy on Cyprus during a period when the Turkish policy on Cyprus was changing with the government of the Justice and Development Party, and the Turkish Cypriot community's uprising.

He appealed to the Turkish Cypriot community on the island, saying the government empathizes with their concerns.

Despite repeated questions, Clerides said he did not give the press conference to make a pre-election campaign, or come into conflict with any of the other candidates for the 16 February presidential elections, adding he had promised to give a press conference on his return from the Copenhagen European Council where Cyprus achieved its accession to the European Union.

"The reason I put forward my candidacy was because I believe that historical developments will take place in the year 2003 for the Cyprus problem". He said it would be right, whoever began those negotiations, "and that would be he because he would still be in office on 28 February, "to continue these negotiations until they are completed".

Clerides explained that if a solution was to be achieved before the end of February, it would not be right for a president, who was leaving office on the 28th, to sign it, but that he should have a renewed mandate that the people are authorizing him to handle the issue and sign according to how he sees developments".

Furthermore, Clerides said that if he had signed an agreement based on some amendments he had proposed (to the UN Secretary-General's plan for a Cyprus settlement) and then a new president would take over who disagreed with the amendments, then the new president, who would have been responsible for the referenda, would have to explain it to the people.

In addition, Clerides said it would not be right just before reaching a solution to the longstanding Cyprus problem, to change the negotiating team.

Clerides further explained that the mandate of 16 months, which he had asked, was not "definite". "If there is progress and a solution is achieved earlier, I will resign. If there is deadlock and I see no agreement, then there would be no need for me remaining in office. Again, I will resign before the 16 months are over", he said.|

Asked whether he would sign the UN Secretary-General's revised plan, submitted on December 10, 2002, as it stands, the President replied that "the National Council decision, which was correct, was that we should negotiate and see what amendments we can make".

He said the number of amendments was not important. "What is significant is the substance", the President said, adding, "what should not change is the balance, as the Secretary-General had said".

Clerides said, "we have no commitment against anyone to achieve a Cyprus settlement", adding that if we did, "then we would have not asked for amendments to the Annan plan".

"We have said there are positive and negative elements which need changing, and we will make an effort to change them", he added.

Clerides said during Wednesday's resumption of the UN-led direct talks, both he and Denktash had said they had a number of amendments that would have to be negotiated. "And Mr. (Rauf) Denktash knows, as well as I do too, that for the plan to change, we must manage to find new positions during these negotiations which are acceptable to both sides".

Asked whether he had any pressure from outside Cyprus to run again for president, Clerides replied, "I have received no external intervention to submit my candidacy. I am clarifying this, that no country or any country's ambassador" has ever asked me to. "It is a fact however, that during the negotiations, Glafcos Clerides was described as a person who wants a solution, handles the Cyprus issue with an intention to solve it, and this has given us a step forward against Mr. Denktash's positions".

The President said for the first time in its history, the international community is exhibiting great interest in the Cyprus problem, but this was because of their own reasons and interests.

"The reality is that this interest remains today, and it would be a tremendous mistake if we had changed the policy whereby we are considered logical and want a solution, during a time when we can see two issues arising in the horizon:

The first, that there is a Turkish government which criticizes the previous Turkish governments for their policy on Cyprus, and secondly, there is a revolution of the Turkish Cypriot factor which says it wants unification and accession to the EU", the President said.

He turned his attention to the Turkish Cypriots who staged a mass rally in the occupied north of Cyprus on Tuesday calling for Denktash's resignation, solution and accession to the EU, and said:

"We understand their indignation because they ascertain they will have a better future (in Europe) and we understand that in Europe we will have greater security, something which they understand too, and that their economic situation will be issues of the past", Clerides said.

The President repeated his pledge not come into conflict with his rivals, adding that it was "not the time of parties, but a time for unity".

Regarding internal administration issues, he said that although Cyprus was no exception in the world, organised crime, drugs, corruption exist on the island, but they are to a much lesser degree than neighbouring countries, even Greece.

Clerides also said that Cyprus received congratulations from Europe because it was the first to harmonise institutions, regarding social policy matters and the Maastricht indicators.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.


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