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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-05-17

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Holbrooke to return in June, says President Clerides
  • [02] Ecclesiastical museum opens
  • [03] Greek Defence Minister warns against Turkish offensive

  • 1125:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Holbrooke to return in June, says President Clerides

    Nicosia, May 17 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides has said that US Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, will return to the island in June to discuss procedural issues relating to the resumption of peace talks to settle the Cyprus problem.

    According to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation the President said Holbrooke is expected to visit Cyprus after the European Union summit to be held in Cardiff, Wales, in June.

    "His visit will focus on procedural issues and not the essence of the Cyprus problem," he said.

    President Clerides added that all parties involved in a settlement in Cyprus are expecting the results of the Cardiff summit.

    Holbrooke, who was appointed last year, was in Cyprus beginning of this month in a bid to resume negotiations between the two communities.

    His efforts stumbled on preconditions set by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, for the recognition of his illegal entity in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus and the withdrawal of Cyprus' application to join the European Union.

    The regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974 is recongised only by Ankara while UN resolutions call on all states not to facilitate it.

    EU accession talks with Cyprus got underway in Brussels in March and the government has often said that Cyprus' accession will act as a catalyst in efforts to settle the problem here, and points out it will benefit Turkish Cypriots most.

    Until today negotiations to settle the Cyprus question have been carried out by President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in their capacity as leaders of their respective communities.

    The Cardiff summit is expected to tackle EU relations with Turkey, after strong reaction by Ankara following December's Luxembourg summit which set preconditions for the improvement of relations with Turkey.

    The EU had said Turkey should improve relations with Greece, back efforts to settle the Cyprus problem, solve the Kurdish question and improve its human rights record and its economy.

    CNA MA/GG/1998

    [02] Ecclesiastical museum opens

    Nicosia, May 17 (CNA) -- An ecclesiastical museum displaying Byzantine icons, books and other church treasures, some of which 900 years old, was opened today at Kykko Monastery, in the mountains south-west of Nicosia.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony, President Glafcos Clerides stressed the museum will "contribute to the further development of Cyprus' intellectual and cultural life and to the protection and promotion of works from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods."

    Noting that the museum will house artefacts 900-years-old, the President described it as a scientific institution of high standards. He said it will promote the island's identity, the Greekness and Christianity of the people of Cyprus.

    The ceremony was attended by ministers, parliamentarians, church leaders, foreign embassy officials and hundreds of faithful.

    Primate of the Cyprus Church Archbishop Chrysostomos stressed that the museum is necessary today "at a time when our people's religious, cultural and ethnic heritage is facing the dire consequences of the continuing Turkish occupation of part of the island."

    It is estimated that around 500 churches in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974 have been looted, destroyed or used for other purposes.

    Archbishop Chrysostomos praised the Monastery's contribution to the safeguarding of church treasures.

    In a message, Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said the museum will serve the people of Cyprus by protecting artefacts precious to their faith.

    Kykko Monastery Abbot, Nikiforos, said the museum was built to house hundreds of church treasures belonging to the Monastery, that were until today unprotected.

    The Kykko Monastery, built on a mountain 1.200 metres above sea level, is the largest and most famous monastery in Cyprus.

    It was founded around 1100 AD, during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Alexios Comnenos, who gave it a holy picture of the Virgin Mary with the Child, believed to have been painted by Saint Luke.

    The icon, which is now in the church of the monastery, is covered with a silver plate and nothing of the original picture can be seen today.

    Despite the fact that fires destroyed the monastery several times, the icon was never burnt and is considered by Orthodox Greek Cypriots as sacred.

    CNA MA/GG/1998

    [03] Greek Defence Minister warns against Turkish offensive

    By Katerina Nicolaou

    Thessaloniki, May 17 (CNA) -- "A new Turkish attack against Cyprus would constitute casus belli for Greece," Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos warned today.

    The Greek Defence Minister also reiterated that Cyprus' defence is part of the joint defence pact agreed between the two countries in 1993.

    Tsohatzopoulos met with his Cypriot counterpart Yiannakis Omirou, in Thessaloniki, with whom he exchanged views on latest developments in the Cyprus problem and bilateral cooperation, especially in the defence field.

    Speaking after the 90-minute meeting, Omirou said "our defence cooperation is moving forward and developing in order to back political efforts to settle the Cyprus problem."

    The Cyprus Defence Minister also said "threats and provocations expressed lately are aimed at misleading efforts to tackle the substance of the Cyprus question."

    Invited to comment on threats by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that the deployment of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system would have consequences both in Cyprus and the Aegean, Omirou reiterated the government's right to build its defences.

    "Mr. Denktash must understand that he cannot ignore international law and create problems," Omirou said.

    He pointed out that the government will not deploy the S-300 only if there is substantial progress to settle the Cyprus problem or if demilitarisation is agreed.

    Omirou stressed that "we will exercise our sovereign right to build our defences in order to protect ourselves, if the need arises."

    Tsohatzopoulos called on the Turkish Cypriot side "to abandon its present positions and take advantage of the opportunity it has before it with Cyprus' accession to the European Union".

    Cyprus opened accession talks with the EU in March, but Denktash has turned down a proposal by President Glafcos Clerides to nominate representatives in the official negotiating team.

    Tsohatzopoulos also said threats regarding the S-300 are nothing but an effort to further upgrade Turkish military presence in the occupied part of Cyprus.

    The Cyprus government ordered the Russian-made S-300 missile system in January 1997, which is expected to be deployed here later this year.

    Turkish troops invaded the island in 1974 and have since been occupying 37 per cent of its territory.

    The Defence Minister went to northern Greece on Friday for meetings with Tsohatzopoulos and leaders of the local authorities.

    Later today he is scheduled to meet with the Cypriot community in Thessaloniki.

    CNA KN/MA/GG/1998
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