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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-01-24

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Costas Themistocleous, a candidate in Februarys presidential elections, believes that his candidacy provides an alternative. He proposes intensive negotiations on the Cyprus problem for a period of six months right after the elections, in order to reach a solution within 2008 and at the same time he warns that Greek Cypriots as well as Turkish Cypriots and even the international community may be contemplating division.

    Themistocleous, in contrast to the three main candidates who are backed by political parties (Ioannis Kasoulides, Demetris Christofias and Tassos Papadopoulos), said that from the moment he announced he would be running for President he pointed out that his candidacy did not aim at winning the elections of February 17.

    ``I stressed from the beginning that this is a candidacy of conscience and the presentation of positions on mainly the Cyprus problem,`` he said in an interview with CNA, adding that his aim was to inform the people of Cyprus on the alternative he was proposing.

    Themistocleous noted that he was not concerned over the number of votes he would receive in the first round of the elections, adding that those who agree with his positions could vote for him in the first round and decide which candidate to support in the second round.

    Replying to questions on the Cyprus problem, Themistocleous said his positions were crystal clear. ``I have adopted the saying that says the truth that annoys is in the end more useful than the lie that accommodates and, as far as the Cyprus problem is concerned, some truths must be told,`` he pointed out.

    Themistocleous said that right after the presidential elections an intensive six-month dialogue should start between the new President and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, with meetings every other day, so that a solution could be found within 2008 and be put to separate referenda on both sides, as in 2004 on a UN-proposed solution plan (Annan plan).

    On a UN-brokered agreement in July 2006 between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot community to help resume substantive negotiations, Themistocleous said this agreement has exhausted its limits and cannot produce results.

    Replying to questions, Themistocleous said the opening of crossing points to and from the Turkish occupied areas led to the collapse of two myths, the first being that the Turkish Cypriots were imprisoned and would escape given the chance, and the second being that contact would inevitably bring about conflict. Themistocleous pointed out that neither of these scenarios came true.

    Asked how the Turkish side could be convinced to participate in constructive negotiations, Themistocleous said there was a better chance to reach a settlement with Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and Talat leading the Turkish Cypriot community, rather than other Turkish politicians with rigid positions on the Cyprus problem.

    Themistocleous believes that Turkey wants a solution to the Cyprus problem. ``It is one of the problems that has been bugging Turkey for years and is an obstruction, unfortunately a small one, to its course towards the EU,`` he added.

    Furthermore, Themistocleous pointed out the significance of the time factor in relation to the number of Turkish settlers in the occupied areas, noting that had a solution been found earlier, then the settlers would have been fewer.

    Themistocleous noted that issues such as the withdrawal of Turkish troops and curbing the influx of Turkish settlers could only be found through a settlement. ``There is no other way,`` he said, adding that this issue was also of concern to the Turkish Cypriots.

    Asked about the Annan plan, Themistocleous said ``this plan continues to be on the negotiating table, it cannot be buried,`` adding that ``you cannot start from the beginning.``

    ``Of course, there is an effort by Mr. Papadopoulos to exploit the `no` vote, which was a majority vote against the Annan plan. To this I say that he has promised us better days than what the plan had envisaged, he promised us a better solution, a European one. However, we have not seen, in the four years that followed, a better future or a better solution. On the contrary, what we see is that we are just a step away from division,`` Themistocleous pointed out.

    He noted that the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, in the occupied areas, enjoys relations with many countries short of diplomatic recognition and he added: ``if we do not hurry up, this will come at some point.``

    Asked if he believed the Greek Cypriots had a tendency towards division, Themistocleous said it was worrying that not only the Greek Cypriots but unfortunately the Turkish Cypriots were now approaching the idea of a ``velvet divorce`` and that ``the worst of all is that, apart from the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the international community is discussing this issue in some way.``

    Referring to internal governance, Themistocleous singled out water supply as the most important issue, noting however that his candidacy proposed solutions and improvements on all aspects, including assistance to those who suffer most, such as pensioners, single-parent families, large families, refugees and others who should have more benefits in a proper welfare state. He also said that he has already presented his views on health, education, the environment, issues concerning the youth and women, culture, sports and other sectors of internal governance.

    Asked what role he aspired to play after the elections, Themistocleous said he had been in politics for the past 35 years and thus ``I have no personal political ambitions.``

    ``However, I have one aspiration, to see Cyprus reunited. If I see it divided, for me this will be a failure of a 35-year struggle, collective and personal. So, if I can play a part, this will be a role in the direction of bringing the two communities together again,`` he concluded.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    President Papadopoulos and Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of then UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

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