© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
17 July, 1997
President Glafcos Clerides welcomed yesterday the European Commission reaffirmation that accession talks with Cyprus will start next year, while he expressed a firm belief that US presidential envoy on the issue Richard Holbrooke did not support the linking of accession talks with a solution to the Cyprus issue.
Speaking on his return to Cyprus, President Clerides said Mr. Holbrooke had twice reassured him that there was no link of the two, and he was very clear about it. Commenting on his meeting with Mr. Holbrooke in New York, Mr. Clerides said they exchanged views on the proceedings in Troutbeck and agreed it is too early to reach any conclusions. He also said he expressed his satisfaction to Mr. Holbrooke for the latter's initiative on Cyprus.
Mr. Clerides dismissed Turkish threats it will annex the occupied part of the island if the Republic joins the European Union (EU), calling on the press to give little notice to the issue, so "Turkey doesn't think we are afraid" of such threats. "We are perplexed by these threats and have taken all necessary measures," in the diplomatic field, he said.
Referring to the UN-led direct talks in Troutbeck, he said they took place in a "very good atmosphere", but no substantial progress was made on the Cyprus issue.
Describing Cyprus' EU accession process as "a catalyst towards a solution to the Cyprus problem", Mr. Clerides said it would be preferable if a solution was reached before accession, stressing, however, this should not be a precondition. Commenting on the first round of UN-led direct talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, held last week in Troutbeck, near New York, President Clerides said the atmosphere was good but "there were no developments on the substance of the Cyprus problem".
He noted, however, that he "did not expect any developments, as it is still too early". "A process has started and is continuing", President Clerides said, pointing out that "progress will occur when the gap between the position held by the two sides is bridged".
He explained that the UN Secretary General's special advisor on Cyprus Diego Cordovez, who coordinated the talks, prepared "a non-paper that will become a paper if the two sides agree to it", adding that the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides submitted their observations and Mr. Cordovez made certain changes.
The two sides, he said, will study the non-paper and then express their positions at the next round of talks in Switzerland, in mid-August.
"I will not publicly comment on the non-paper which will be discussed at the National Council (top advisory body to the government on the Cyprus problem) meeting", President Clerides said, noting he did not consider public statements to be wise at this stage. The National Council is schedule to convene on July 24, to discuss developments in the Cyprus issue during the talks.
President Clerides also referred to his proposal for a meeting with Mr. Denktash in Nicosia, under the auspices of UN resident representative Gustave Feissel, in order to discuss humanitarian issues, especially that of persons missing since the Turkish invasion.
Noting that there is no agenda for the Nicosia meeting, the President said issues such as that Greek Cypriots enclaved in the northern Turkish-occupied part of the island were discussed in Troutbeck.
Referring to Tuesday's meeting in London, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Clerides said Mr. Blair repeated earlier promises to assist efforts towards a Cyprus settlement as well as the republic's accession to the EU.
In presenting the "Agenda 2000" for EU enlargement before the European Parliament yesterday, EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek pointed out that the Commission cannot hold Cyprus hostage due to lack of cooperation by the Turkish side on a settlement to the protracted Cyprus problem.
Replying to a question by a Turkish reporter afterwards, Mr. van den Broek also reiterated that the EU decision to open accession negotiations with Cyprus is not new, but was taken in March 1995. He underlined that the EU has often expressed its interest in a solution to the Cyprus question and is cooperating with the UN in this direction.
The report, named "Agenda 2000", notes that membership negotiations for an expanded EU will begin with Cyprus, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia next year.
In his reference to Cyprus during the report's presentation, the commissioner said "the Commission delivered a favorable opinion in 1993 on Cyprus' application for membership and has reaffirmed on several occasions that accession negotiations should start six months after the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference", which took place in Amsterdam in June.
"The division of the island, of course, raises problems in the context of enlargement but we hope that the prospect of accession will provide a catalyst to bring about a just and lasting settlement", he added.
The Dutch Commissioner expressed hope that the UN-led direct negotiations held on the Cyprus issue in Troutbeck last week between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, would open a process leading eventually to a settlement .
Mr. van den Broek also pointed out that there are "encouraging signs" for better relations between Greece and Turkey and said "we are looking to Turkey to contribute actively to a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus".
On his part, European Commission President Jacques Santer presented the publication, constituting the Commission's comprehensive response to requests from the European Council meeting in Madrid in December '95.
Responding to press questions regarding Turkey's European prospects, Mr. Santer said Turkey did not meet the criteria for full membership in the European Union.
Commenting on the same issue, Mr. van den Broek said that the European Union was aware of Turkey's leading role in Asian and Balkan regions.
"But there are serious economic and political problems, especially in the sector of human rights," he said. Commenting on a recent threat by Ankara to take countermeasures if talks were to begin for a Cyprus-EU accession, Mr. van den Broek said that Ankara's attitude could not be accepted, adding that talks for Cyprus' EU membership for Cyprus had already been decided.
Source: Athens News Agency