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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 98-02-05

Cyprus Press and Information Office: News Updates in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

News Update

Thursday, 05/02/98


CONTENTS

  • [01] President Clerides sends letters to Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair
  • [02] Cyprus counters Turkey's reactions to airbase in Paphos


[01] President Clerides sends letters to Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton,Tony Blairş

President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides announced on Wednesday (4.2.98) that he has sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, US President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair asking them to intensify efforts to persuade Turkey to change its negative stance in the Cyprus problem before new efforts for a Cyprus settlement begin, immediately after presidential elections on the island on February 8th and 15th. He said that in his letter he urged that "before the new round of talks begins they have to strongly encourage Turkey to change its positions on the Cyprus problem, in order for negotiations to bear fruit."

President Clerides described the letters as a "preemptive move" he considered necessary because of the Turkish side's refusal to participate in a new round of Cyprus peace talks.

He said this is not the first time he has stressed to the three men the need for Turkey to change its stance and added they understand his view.

President Clerides did not disclose the content of his letters but said he stressed the Turkish side's refusal to negotiate and its demand for recognition of the illegal regime in the areas occupied by Turkey since its 1974 invasion of Cyprus.

The Turkish side made these threats after a European Union decision, taken at the Luxembourg summit in December last year, to open accession talks with Cyprus.

Asked if the Greek Cypriot side will participate in negotiations even if the Turkish side continues to be intransigent, the President replied "we will always be positive and we are ready to begin a dialogue".

The Cypriot President underlined that if Ankara refuses a dialogue it will become obvious that "she is to blame for the lack of progress in a Cyprus settlement."

But President Clerides noted that the illegal entity unilaterally established in the occupied areas in 1983 cannot participate as a "state" because it is not recognized by the UN.

The President also said that in a meeting in London recently between the British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Cook had asked Mr.Annan to begin his good offices mission for Cyprus immediately after the elections.

He said the UN Chief was positive and told the British official he would send his special envoy Diego Cordovez to Cyprus in March.ş

[02] Cyprus counters Turkey's reactions to airbase in Paphos

Cyprus's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Sotiris Zakcheos sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan against Turkey's protestations about the construction of a military airbase in Cyprus.

Countering the Turkish position which was set out in an earlier letter from Turkey to the UN, the Cypriot Ambassador pointed out the legitimacy of the island's efforts to enhance its defence in the face of the continuing occupation of 37% of its territory by Turkey since 1974.

The letter said: "After almost twenty-four years of impasse during which Turkey has steadfastly refused to withdraw or even reduce the occupation forces, the need of the Republic of Cyprus to take sufficient measures to defend itself in the face of this continuing threat becomes more imperative than ever before. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus, like any other Government, has both the responsibility and the duty to ensure the security of its citizens who live in the shadow of a long-standing and serious threat."

The letter added: "It is sufficient to mention that Turkey maintains in the occupied area of the island a force of 36,000 heavily armed troops which is constantly upgraded and modernized. All the units of the occupying force are on 100 per cent level of battle readiness and manning. The huge offensive capability of the occupation army is spearheaded by more that 300 modern tanks. Air support is available at a less than 10 minute distance from the neighbouring Tukrish mainland, where a force of at least 80 F-16s and other combat aircraft is stationed," facing the island's shores.

Noting that Cyprus has no airforce of its own, the Cypriot Ambassador stressed the government's position that the airbase built in Paphos area will be used exclusively for defensive purposes.

The hypocritical concern by Turkey about the military airbase was exposed by statements such as those made by Mr. Gurel, Minister of State of Turkey, who specifically stated that "there are weapons systems being installed in Cyprus, which are endangering our military supremacy there" or by Mr. Sezgin, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, who said that "if (the base) is directed against Turkey it is too little".

The island's UN Representative also explained in his letter to Mr. Annan that "the continuation of its defence programme is conditional upon a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem through peaceful means or the demilitarization of the island. Hence, since 1993 President Clerides has submitted a complete proposal for the demilitarization of the island. This proposal is still on the table. Its acceptance by Turkey, or the display of genuine will to consider it seriously, would greatly facilitate everyone concerned in dealing with and eventually overcoming the present difficulties."


From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/


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