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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-19

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Foreign Minister - Demilitarisation plan
  • [02] Mountain bike race - International participation
  • [03] Cyprus - Kurds - Passport
  • [04] Kurds - Resolution - Hunger strike ends

  • 1100:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Foreign Minister - Demilitarisation plan

    Washington, Feb 19 (CNA) -- Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has said that the Cyprus government is considering a plan that could demilitarise the island, thereby reducing tensions between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities as well as between Greece and Turkey themselves.

    Speaking to reporters in Washington yesterday, he said the plan would place an international force on the island under a UN Security Council mandate, replacing the armed forces both in the Cyprus Republic and the Turkish-occupied areas.

    "If we withdraw the arms, it ends the arms race," Kasoulides said, adding "it has always been our position that Cyprus should become a demilitarised country."

    While much of the plan is still at the discussion phase, the Minister suggested that Cyprus could help fund the international force through the money it would no longer allocate to its defence budget.

    However, he did not comment on how the plan is viewed by the US officials he is meeting this week, among them Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering and Under Secretary of Defence Walter Slocombe.

    One of the main topics of discussion with US officials, Kasoulides said, was the continuing effort to find a just and lasting solution on the island, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974.

    The Foreign Minister recalled the two UN Security Council resolutions approved last December, which called for a negotiated settlement based on a state with a single sovereignty.

    Cyprus is ready to comply with the two resolutions fully, he said. Asked about the government's decision not to deploy the Russian-made S300 defence missile system, Kasoulides described it "a painful one" and said it was made because Cyprus wished to demonstrate that it was a reliable partner to the US and the European Union (EU).

    However, Kasoulides said the decision helped give impetus to Cyprus' accession talks with the EU, which opened last year, and added that the talks are going very well and could lead to the country's entry by the year 2003.

    Meanwhile, asked by CNN International on Turkish allegations that rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan was travelling on a Cypriot passport, the Foreign Minister said an inquiry is being carried out by the Attorney General.

    He dismissed Turkish allegations that it was a diplomatic passport, noting that diplomatic passports are black or navy blue while the one screened on the Turkish film was red.

    Replying to questions, Kasoulides stressed "Cyprus has enough problems of its own so we cannot, will not and do not involve ourselves in the causes of other people however sympathetic we may appear to the rights of the Kurdish people regarding their struggle for human rights and cultural identity."

    CNA DA/MA/GP/1999

    [02] Mountain bike race - International participation

    Nicosia, Feb 19 (CNA) -- This year's mountain bike race "Afxentia" is of particular importance as it has been upgraded to the D2 (70 points) category of the International Cycle Federation (UCI), attracting more foreign participation, the organisers here announced.

    Until now cyclists from Greece, Malta, Israel, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Austria, Yugoslavia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Scotland have confirmed their participation because of the upgrading of "Afxentia" in the world ranking.

    The Cyprus Cycling Federation announced that the event will be held March 6 and 7 and will cover two stages, a 14,5 kilometer hill climb and a 7,1 kilometer cross country.

    The first 20 men will win 1500 Cyprus pounds each and the first 10 women 1000 pounds (one Cyprus pound is about two US dollars), the organisers said.

    CNA KS/MA/GP/1999

    [03] Cyprus - Kurds - Passport

    Nicosia, Feb 19 (CNA) -- The Cyprus government today underlined that the passport screened on Turkish TV as the document with which Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan had travelled is not a diplomatic passport issued by the Republic.

    "The diplomatic passports of the Cyprus Republic are blue and not red as the one screened, and are not issued by the Immigration Department but the Foreign Ministry," Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides said.

    He pointed out that the alleged passport screened on Turkish TV was issued by the Immigration Department.

    The Spokesman also said that the results of the inquiry undertaken will be announced later today by Attorney General Alecos Markides.

    Replying to questions, he said President Glafcos Clerides is kept informed on the outcome of the inquiry by both Markides and the Police and stressed that all legal procedures are being followed.

    Stylianides said the President is not concerned that the issue will harm the credibility of the Republic and attributed statements made by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to his efforts to harm the Cyprus Republic.

    He described Denktash's reaction as "part of his well known intentions to harm the credibility of the Cyprus Republic on every occasion, and to make it appear as a so-called Greek-Cypriot administration."

    The Turkish Cypriot leader takes every occasion to harm the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus in order to gain recognition of his illegal regime unilaterally declared in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974.

    The Spokesman also said that Cyprus always supports people struggling to safeguard their human rights as it is itself a victim of violation and in this context will back any international efforts for Ocalan.

    "The Cyprus Republic has always supported peaceful struggles for respect of human rights and the government will handle any initiative by an international organisation in this way," he said.

    Stylianides said that as a country aspiring to become a European Union member, Cyprus wants to be in the forefront on human rights issues.

    CNA MA/GP/1999

    [04] Kurds - Resolution - Hunger strike ends

    Nicosia, Feb 19 (CNA) -- Kurdish protesters submitted a resolution today to the Greek Embassy in Nicosia and terminated the hunger strike they began three days ago, in support of their abducted guerilla leader, Abdullah Ocalan by the Turks.

    The resolution states that the struggle of the Kurds to save Ocalan's life "will continue as well as our struggle to achieve freedom for our people".

    It says the protesters consider the resignation of Greek Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, and Public Order "is an undertaking of responsibility for the tragic handling" of Ocalan's case.

    The Kurds stress that, despite the resignations, "the responsibility still remains with the government of Costas Simitis, which should accept this responsibility and resign saving thus the dignity of the Greek people".

    The Kurds say their "struggle is directed against the policy of Simitis, not against the Greek people for whom we have feelings of friendship and we share a common struggle".

    They "urgently ask all democrats to actively defend the life and legal rights of Ocalan, first by sending delegations to Turkey, the presidents of which will constitute an elementary guarantee for his life and second by becoming active in international institutions, the European Union and the United Nations".

    They add a third point, which calls for "an international conference to be organised in order to promote a political solution to the Kurdish question".

    This afternoon, the Kurds will stage a demonstration in Eleftheria (Freedom) Square in Nicosia, with the participation and support of leftwing AKEL party, and other organisations.

    CNA RM/RG/GP/1999
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