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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-11-16

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Annan invitation and Denktash reaction

UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan's invitation to proximity talks in New York, and Rauf Denktash's subsequent refusal to attend was the lead story in all of yesterday's papers. Most papers did not report that Denktash had changed his mind again later and decided to accept, after certain corrections were made to the text of Annan's invitation.

Phileleftheros reported that Denktash had pulled the carpet from under the feet of President Clerides, Annan and other mediators by declining to go to talks, a few hours after initially accepting the UN invitation. Denktash had reacted in this way because the text of the invitation was different from what had originally been agreed -- a simple statement without names or titles.

He claimed that the invitation should not have referred to Clerides as president or to substantive negotiations. The agreement was that the proximity talks, scheduled for December 3, would prepare the ground for substantive negotiations in the future. After Denktash's about-turn, the UN changed the wording of the invitation. Meanwhile, the White House turned on the pressure saying it expected Denktash to attend the talks.

Simerini said that the US had finally succeeded in bringing Denktash and Clerides to the negotiating table, albeit for proximity rather than direct talks. It noted that the format of the talks had been dictated by Denktash who had given the following ultimatum -- either the start of proximity talks with a view to establishing common ground for direct talks or the recognition of his &gt;state' as a pre-condition for direct, substantive talks.

The US had, effectively, adopted the suggestion made by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit during his September 28 meeting with President Clinton. Ecevit had proposed the holding of proximity talks, to be followed by substantive negotiations next year.

To Tharros focused on Clerides' reaction to the invitation. Clerides believed that declining the invitation would have constituted Aa grave error, the consequences of which would have affected not only the prospects of the Cyprus issue but also of EU accession.

He said that it was first time in the history of the Cyprus problem that assurances had been received about the direct involvement of the US -- at the level of the president -- in the peace process. Other permanent members of the UN Security Council were expected to follow suit, he said.

Alithia was the only paper to report Denktash's final decision to attend the talks. It said that Turkey's Anatolia news agency had announced that Denktash would attend at midnight on Sunday. ALet them return to the original phrasing (of the invitation) and I will go to negotiations, Denktash was quoted to have told the news agency.

Haravghi quoted Akel leader Demetris Christofias describing Annan's invitation as an ultimatum. It reported that Christofias had asked Clerides to request some time before giving his reply to the UN invitation so that he could confer with the Greek Cypriot political parties first.

Christofias described the invitation to talks as artificial scenario, following the deadlock to which the notorious US initiative had fount itself in. He said that the invitation may have come from the UN, but the source was not the UN, implying it was the US, which was, supposedly, in a hurry to arrange talks.

Politis carried the results of an opinion poll which found that 80 per cent of Cypriots were not satisfied with the island's political scene. Only 14 per cent said they were satisfied with Cyprus politics, which was indicative of the people's desire for change, it said.

The most popular political leader was Akel's Demetris Christofias with a 74 per cent approval rating, while Edek's Vassos Lyssarides was second with a 63 per cent approval rating. Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades' approval rating had slipped to just 43 per cent. Meanwhile the most popular minister was Nicos Koshis of the Justice Ministry, with a rating of 78 per cent.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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