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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-11-12

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, November 12, 1999

Postponed visit 'a blow for Greece'

THE POSTPONEMENT of President Clinton's weekend visit to Greece was the main issue of the day.

Simerini described the one-week delay and the shorter duration of the visit as "blow for Greece", despite the Greek government's efforts to focus on the positive side. It claimed that talks would be more meaningful after the OSCE meeting in Turkey.

Despite the claim that Athens had asked for the postponement, "for the good of Greek-American relations", diplomatic sources offered a different explanation. The US was reportedly furious with the Greek government's decision to allow the Greek Communist Party to hold a demonstration outside the American embassy during the visit.

The paper claimed that the Turks have been "rubbing their hands", happy that Greek-American relations would suffer from what has happened. In contrast to the Greeks, the Turks were awaiting Clinton's visit to Istanbul with open arms. This would be used to prove that Turkey is the "reliable ally" of the US, in order to accrue benefits at the expense of Greece and avoid any pressure regarding Cyprus.

Phileleftheros said the postponement, sent out "many signals", the main one being the displeasure of the White House with the Greek government's failure to ban demonstrations outside the American embassy for the duration of Clinton's stay in the country. The US ambassador had set this as a condition for Clinton's visit. It was no wonder that American newspapers had written about "the Greek authorities' reluctance to combat terrorism".

The change of plan was tantamount to a cancellation of the visit, because the new arrangements made the Clinton visit little more than a "stopover on the way back" to the US; he would stay in Athens for less than 24 hours. Members of the Greek lobby in the US have already been recruited in an effort to "prevent the more adverse effects" of developments.

Machi claimed that Clinton had "retreated" with regard to his visit, but mentions further down that the Simitis government had asked for the postponement. According to the latest information, there was a possibility that the meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Clinton would be held at Athens airport.

Alithia, in its front-page editorial, lambasted all the anti-US protesters whose actions had contributed to the postponement of Clinton's visit. This was not a positive development, it said, because "it confirmed the worrying elevation of the handling of national issues to the pavement of irresponsibility and sensation-seeking theatrics, with trials, condemnations and aphorisms".

It had been hoped that Clinton's visit would have led to Washington ensuring some practical progress in the Cyprus issue. "This objective is not achieved by swearing and spitting at Clinton," it said and concluded: "The climate created by the new wave of sick anti-American sentiments in the streets of Athens does not contribute to the further improvement of the many positive elements that exist, but to their destruction, which benefits the other side."

Haravghi reported that Britain and the US were working methodically, "to assist, not only EU objectives of the Turkish side but also its efforts to secure recognition of the Turkish Cypriot community as a separate political entity". As part of these efforts, they had arranged a resumption of Cyprus talks in New York on November 29.

To satisfy Rauf Denktash the dialogue would take the form of proximity talks. There would be direct talks only if the two sides agreed to this.

Politis spoke of "criminal ommissions" in the handling of the issue of the missing by the state services. It said that a government official had admitted that 1071 case files of missing persons were lacking adequate documentation.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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