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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-11-23

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

Three phases of UN talks

THE FRONT-PAGE stories remained the same as last week’s - speculation about the proximity talks, Turkey’s EU status and the Greek side’s diplomatic tactics in its dealings with Turkey.

Simerini reported that the phase starting on December 3 was expected to last 10 days. There would be a second phase at the start of next year, with the third taking place in March. Nothing spectacular was expected in the first phase as the UN Under-Secretary General Alvaro de Soto, would simply record the views of each side. De Soto would speak to each side separately and ask for their views on the following four issues: territory, constitution, property and security. The views would then be looked at by the UN, which would work on proposals aimed at bridging the differences. UN proposals would be the basis for the second phase of more substantive negotiations.

Politis said the first 48 hours of the New York proximity talks would be critical. The programme had already been arranged with the talks scheduled to take place in December, January and February. The first 48 hours would be used so that each side submits its views and ideas regarding the framework of settlement. After the first 48 hours, the UN mediators will take control of the proceedings. De Soto will then have to put together a document which will contain the ideas submitted, so that they will be discussed further. Mediators were hoping that proximity talks would last a fortnight, but this was unlikely, given Rauf Denktash’s refusal to stay in New York for longer than eight days.

Alithia said that President Clerides, on his return to Cyprus, would devote all his time to preparing for the talks. He would have meetings with all Party leaders to inform them about the talks and, if they are all in Cyprus, a National Council meeting would be held before Clerides went to New York. The paper also quoted Greece’s former prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis as saying there were, "for the first time in years, positive prospects and logical hopes" about the Cyprus issue. He also said that the only condition Greece should set about approving Turkey’s EU candidate status, should be that no obstacle would be placed in Cyprus’ accession course.

Haravghi claimed that the US was aiming at the upgrading of Turkey-EU relations and was taking the EU candidate status to Turkey for granted. What was taking place now was "bargaining after the event", diplomatic sources were quoted as saying. The paper complained that the condition for progress on the Cyprus issue had been abandoned in favour of securing assurances about Cyprus’s entry into the EU even without a settlement. It cited Mitsotakis’ comments as supporting this point. However. even securing such assurances from the EU was exceedingly difficult.

Phileleftheros said that Clerides and Prime Minister Costas Simitis were expected to discuss the Greek side’s tactics for the EU summit and the UN proximity talks. The two governments were disappointed by the unwillingness of the US and Greece’s EU partners to put any pressure on Turkey, a fact that did not raise hopes of Ankara adopting a more conciliatory view. Informed sources in Athens said that, in view of Greek elections in March, Simitis was not prepared to lift Greece’s veto regarding Turkey’s EU candidate status, without getting anything substantial in exchange. This had been made clear to President Clinton at the weekend.

To Tharros reported that members of the Greek lobby in the US were optimistic about the prospects of the proximity talks. Greek Americans were convinced, for the first time, that Clinton would fulfil all the promises he had given about a just solution to the Cyprus problem.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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