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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 98-02-10

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

Tuesday, 10/02/98


CONTENTS

  • [01] Main contenders seek allies for second round of elections
  • [02] Share prices surge in hopeful mood after election
  • [03] EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek addresses EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee


[01] Main contenders seek allies for second round of elections

Inter party negotiations began immediately after the results of last Sunday's (8.2.98) presidential election, which gave no clear winner. The two leading candidates will face each other in a run-off second round of voting next Sunday (15.2.98).

Neither pretender George Iacovou, who won 40.6 per cent of the vote, nor incumbent President Glafcos Clerides, with 40.1 per cent, managed to secure an outright majority in the first round, forcing both to seek alliances with the other five smaller parties and candidates.

However, Mr Iacovou's candidacy, backed by communist party AKEL and the Democratic Party (DIKO), having failed by nearly 10% to secure their own parties' combined electoral strength of 49.4% (in 1996 parliamentary elections, AKEL had 33% and DIKO 16.4%), does not look set to attract the momentum needed to convince extra voters in the second round.

Conversely, Glafcos Clerides's re-election chances were boosted by Sunday's results. The incumbent president polled 40.06 per cent - a sizeable 6 per cent above Democratic Rally's (DISY) showing in the 1996 parliamentary elections - aiding his main campaign message that his candidacy was above- party. This, and the pre-election pledge he gave that he would seek to form an all-party national unity government, put him in a good position to attract the smaller parties who can see their chances of a share in the government come true.

Mr Clerides will now concentrate on wooing supporters of all the five candidates who did not make it to the second round, and particularly Edek. Though the socialist party has been fiercely critical in the past about Clerides's domestic policies, relations have been warmed by Clerides's close co-operation with the Pasok government in Athens, which led to the joint defence parct with Greece.

Socialist party leader Vassos Lyssarides emerged a clear kingmaker from Sunday's first round, polling 10.6 per cent - up more than 2 per cent over his party's showing in 1996.

Bargaining from a position of strength, Mr Lyssarides has already prepared a document, containing a package of proposals and conditions for his party's support to both main candidates. Mr Lyssarides presented his 7-page document to both President Clerides and Mr George Iacovou on Monday night (9.2.98).

The Socialist party's proposals call for the establishment of a national unity government, an upgraded and more powerful National Council and the setting up of a strategic planning bureau to discuss and shape foreign policy.

On the domestic front it has demanded a commitment on eliminating nepotism and on undertaking reforms that would improve the quality of life. These include specific proposals about reforming the ailing education system and introduction of a national health scheme.

Government spokesman Manolis Christofides, speaking for Mr Clerides yesterday, said even "personalities" from Akel and Diko could have a place in a new Clerides government.

In contrast, neither Iacovou nor his backers Akel and Diko fully embraced the idea of a national unity government in which all parties including their foe Disy, would participate. In fact Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou on Monday restricted himself to calling on Edek to back Iacovou's candidacy without mention of a unity government.

This aversion to a national unity government could pose a serious problem to the Iacovou camp as, apart from Lyssarides, another two defeated candidates, Alexis Galanos and George Vassiliou both have called for the setting up of a national unity government.

[02] Share prices surge in hopeful mood after election

A surge in share prices was sparked at the Cyprus Stock Exchange after last Sunday's (8.2.98) election.

The official all-share index closed at 81.34 points, up by 1.54 per cent from Friday's close and within a little more than one point of the bourse's all-time high of 82.46 points, recorded on January 2 last year.

"Some investors were advised or felt it was time to buy today because of expectations among some that Clerides will win", said senior stockbroker Stavros Agrotis of CISCO, the Nicosia-based brokerage owned by the Bank of Cyprus Group".

"The market is clearly pro-Clerides, largely because he is widely believed to be the man capable of delivering a solution to the Cyprus problem", said a trader with one of the island's biggest brokerages.

A solution to the seemingly intractable Cyprus problem - or even signs of progress in that direction - is virtually certain to give the market its biggest boost since it began official operations nearly two years ago, reports Hamza Hendawi in Tuesday's, 10.2.98, english language daily "Cyprus Mail".

[03] EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek addresses EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee

During Monday's, 9.2.98, session of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, European Union Commissioner for External Relations Hans van den Broek underlined that the Luxembourg EU Decision includes many elements on which Turkey can build. He said they encompass a European strategy for Turkey, based on common criteria for all candidate states.

Mr van den Broek referred to these criteria, and specifically outlined the need for economic and political reform inside Turkey, especially concerning human rights, the improvement in Greco-Turkish relations and supporting the UN-led negotiations for a political settlement in Cyprus.

On Cyprus the EU Commissioner said the European Union will support UN efforts to resume peace talks after the elections and that it will also attempt to promote an agreement on the composition of the Cypriot delegation to accession talks.

Replying to the Turkish joint chairman's objections, Mr van den Broek said the European Union has a legitimate right to discuss the Cyprus problem with Turkey. It is a question with which every EU member is concerned and on which Turkey's co-operation is required.

He noted that Cyprus's accession to the EU is also in Turkey's own interest, since it will serve the interests of both Greek and Turkish communities on the island.


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


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