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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-06

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Blair says no preconditions to Cyprus EU accession
  • [02] "Reliant Mermaid" press conference
  • [03] Press conference on SAR exercise
  • [04] Britain-Cyprus collaborate in EU Law Project

  • 1030:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Blair says no preconditions to Cyprus EU accession

    London, Jan 6 (CNA) -- A settlement of the Cyprus problem is no precondition for the Republic's accession to the European Union, even though it would make things easier.

    This was stressed by British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who also pointed out that Britain is in a stronger position than others to play an important role in Cyprus' accession to the EU.

    In an interview with the Financial Times, published in the special section of the newspaper on the EU, Blair said Britain would use its good offices to try to achieve a settlement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus.

    He pointed out, however, that a settlement of the Cyprus problem was not a precondition to accession to the EU, even though it would make it easier.

    Blair agreed that Britain, former colonial ruler and one of the three guarantor powers of Cyprus' independence and territorial integrity, according to the agreements establishing the Republic in 1960, was perhaps in a stronger position to assist its accession to the EU.

    Britain is also presiding over the EU this term.

    Commenting on Turkey's European prospects, Blair said he was "still hopeful of getting Turkey involved in the European Conference", despite, as he pointed out, "its disappointing response so far".

    The British Premier also stressed that "it is very important that Turkey understands there are no different criteria being applied to Turkey than would be applied to any other country".

    Turkey has been repeatedly asked to improve its human rights record in order to be eligible to join the EU.

    Asked whether Turkey would ever join the EU, Blair said "obviously that is some way away, but we have got to start the process". CNA NB/MCH/RG 1998


    [02] "Reliant Mermaid" press conference

    by Maria Myles

    Tel Aviv, Jan 6 (CNA) -- Turkey claims military exercises, similar to those jointly conducted with Israel and the US, could one day take place with Cyprus as well.

    Asked by CNA whether he envisages a time in the future when Turkey will be able to conduct similar exercises with the government of Cyprus, Turkish Colonel Husnu Bag said:

    "We have publicly said that we can conduct similar exercises with any country in the region if they have good willingness."

    Husnu Bag was speaking after a press conference, in view of tomorrow's search and rescue exercise "Reliant Mermaid", which involves ships and aircraft from Israel, Turkey and the US.

    During the press conference, it was mentioned that the Cyprus FIR would not be used in this exercise.

    (Full story later)

    CNA MM/MCH/RG 1998


    [03] Press conference on SAR exercise

    Tel Aviv, Jan 6 (CNA) -- The joint search and rescue (SAR) exercise involving naval ships and aircraft from Israel, Turkey and the US is not intended against any country, military chiefs stressed here, today, at a press conference.

    They also underlined the humanitarian aspect of the exercise and said Cyprus' FIR is not being used in this exercise.

    Moreover, they said the search and rescue coordination centre in the Episkopi British Base on the south coast of Cyprus is not involved in this exercise, code named "Reliant Mermaid", which takes place in international waters, Wednesday, some 20 to 100 miles off the coast of Israel.

    Two Turkish frigates (TGG Yavuz F-240 with a helicopter and TCG Zafer), a US destroyer (USS John Rodgers) with two embarked helicopters and four Israeli vessels will take part in the 12-hour exercise, which will involve an Israeli Sa'ar 4 missile fast patrol boat and a sea scan aircraft.

    Turkish Colonel Husnu Dag, representing the Turkish General Staff, told the press conference "the exercise is not intended against any country, the purpose of the exercise is to practice and coordinate SAR activity in case of possible accidents at sea".

    Turkey, he added, "cooperates not only with Israel but also with other countries in the region in the context of military training and cooperation agreements it has."

    "I hope this exercise will be a success", he said.

    Referring to criticism from countries in the region about the exercise, Turkey's representative stressed "this exercise is not against any country in the area, it is purely a humanitarian exercise".

    Asked by CNA if the permission of the government of the Republic of Cyprus was secured to use FIR Cyprus, the Israeli Rear Admiral, Yedidia Yaari, said "the FIR of Cyprus is not being used in this exercise, apart from where the maritime patrol cruises and cruises which combine all the international procedures, and there is nothing unusual in the operation at all".

    Asked by CNA if there is any coordination with the SAR operation in Episkopi and whether these SAR exercises are intended to complement or replace Episkopi operations, the Admiral said:

    "The centre in Cyprus is not part of this particular exercise for no specific reason, but we are not only open but looking forward to working with any civil entities in the region to coordinate and cooperate in SAR operations."

    He added, "it goes without saying that any efficient and capable SAR centre in the area, no matter where it is, is a partner, and therefore we are looking forward in the future to try and work with the Cyprus centre as well."

    The Israeli Rear Admiral also stressed that the "objective of the exercise is to practice emergency search and rescue procedures, no less, no more" and noted that assistance is offered to people in life threatening situations irrespective of nationality, status or any other attributes".

    He said Israeli navy has already conducted SAR exercises with Turkish navy recently and "we are looking forward to coordinating activities and cooperate with other nations as well".

    "The practical role of this exercise is to familiarise all three navies with each other's common practices", he said, noting that Turkish naval ships participating in tomorrow's exercise will operate in the southern part of the designated area, the Israeli ships in the centre and the US in the northern part of the designated region.

    Three phases of the exercise will be receiving emergency calls and starting aerial search, actual rescue procedure and last evacuation of survivals.

    "We hope to be able to proceed in the future with more realistic scenarios, involving more regional participants, this is a small step but for the first trilateral exercise this is the right step to take", the Admiral said.

    Asked if the exercise will be in the region of the Israeli FIR, the Israeli military chief replied "not necessarily".

    The US Commodore Joseph Sestak Junior said the US naval presence in the Mediterranean is "very serious in the stability of the region" and added "we believe the best guarantee of peace is to live in neighbourhood".

    Such exercises in the Mediterranean is "one of the best guarantees for stability in this region", he added. CNA MM/MCH/RG 1998


    [04] Britain-Cyprus collaborate in EU Law Project

    Nicosia, Jan 6 (CNA) -- A workshop on the "Practical implications of European Community Law for National Legal Systems" will be held in Nicosia, from 7 to 9 January.

    The seminar, will be led by British Law specialist Marise Cremona of the University of London, and her colleague, Joanne Scott.

    Marise Cremona was here last November and conducted a needs assessment of the training requirements in connection with European Union Law and negotiation practice in relation to Cyprus' accession to the EU.

    According to the British Council he workshop is the initial stage of a longer-term training programme organised for the Law Office of the Republic of Cyprus, in the context of its forthcoming accession negotiations with the EU.

    CNA RG/MCH/1998
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