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18 November, 2002
Cyprus President Glafcos completed a whirlwind round of meetings with Greek leadership over the weekend, including PM Costas Simitis and President Kostis Stephanopoulos, as a recently tabled UN peace plan for the divided east Mediterranean island republic on the eve of Cyprus expected EU accession mark probably the most crucial period for resolving the long-standing Cyprus problem.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis received Clerides on Saturday for an hour and a half meeting before a joint press conference, where Simitis said the first issue discussed was whether the Greek Cypriot side should respond in the affirmative to the plan, thereby allowing negotiations based on the proposed plan to begin.
Simitis noted that Cyprus national council, which will convene on Monday, will of course make the final decision, adding that Clerides told him that most Cypriot parties in the free parts of the island republic backed negotiations.
''...and this is the right thing to do, since conducting a dialogue is our standing principle,'' the Greek premier stressed.
''There are points which need intensive negotiations and points that should be clarified. We will make our decisions in conjunction with the overall results of the negotiations, depending of course of the willingness of the other side, Simitis said.
Simitis also again stressed Athens complete solidarity for Cyprus EU accession course as well as for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.
He also stressed that there is a necessity for cohesiveness, sobriety and correct reasoning on the basis of a common line of thinking for the future of a reunited and sovereign Cyprus and on the basis of one common position corresponding with the will of the Cyprus people.
Clerides, responding to a question on whether substantial changes and amendments to the plan can be made, said: "... we will have to see ... when the negotiations begin,'' adding that it is obvious that both sides will request changes in the text.
Responding to the same question, Simitis said ''there are points, which we should wrangle with and we will wrangle ... (since) no one is deciding for us''.
Asked whether this initial text could be signed by the beginning of December, Clerides said again that this will spring from negotiations, before adding that this will also be based on when such negotiations will begin.
Moreover, in response to a press question, Clerides said he backed the negotiating principle of ''nothing has been decided until all is decided'', adding that this is also UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's position.
Simitis, on his part, said the ongoing public debate about the plan and possible negotiations was "...weakening the negotiating trump cards of President Clerides''.
He added that he also confronted the dilemma ''partition or solution'', saying that matters are not so easy and spoke of the major dangers that existed over the years for the Cypriot people and for Greece from the existing condition on the island.
He also spoke of the issue of the settlement of occupied northern Cyprus by mainland Turkish nationals, citing the danger of establishing an even more profound demographic change of the islands population if there is no solution.
New Democracy:Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday also met with Clerides to discuss the UN plan. Following the meeting, Karamanlis said ''we had a very interesting and useful discussion with the President or the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Clerides. The president informed us on the developments and the ways that the Annan plan was approached. We had the opportunity as well to state our positions, to present our thoughts.''
''In any event, I reassured President Clerides that, with all our power, in this critical juncture, in this difficult struggle, we will be at the side of the Cyprus people and its leadership,'' Karamanlis concluded.
KKE, Synaspismos:Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga expressed her party's opposition to the Annan plan, following her meeting with the Cypriot leader.
Papariga said the plan would lead to a ''deceiving and non-functioning confederation, one based on Cyprus' division''. However, she stressed that only the Cypriot people are responsible, and that no matter what their decision KKE will be on their side. Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Saturday called on all political forces of the country to protect the national interests and move with caution concerning the Cyprus problem, following his meeting with President Clerides.
Speaking to his party's Central Committee meeting, he said that the UN plan for Cyprus is a compromise for the resolution of a series of problems and a whole complex of relations, at the same time, however, he noted that it would be unwise to make the plan look perfect.
''The plan includes positive as well as negative points which of course should be confronted,'' he said.
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas on Saturday criticized the statements and positions of Prime Minister Costas Simitis' on the Cyprus issue, saying that they are ''wrong if seen from a negotiations stand point, damaging the interest of Cyprus and Greece''.
According to Tsovolas the nucleus of the UN plan to resolve the Cyprus problem is the legalization of the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus.
Source: Athens News Agency