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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-11-24

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Greece decides on tough Helsinki stance

ALL PAPERS led with reports from Athens about the meeting between President Clerides and Prime Minister Costas Simitis. It was widely reported that the Greek side had decided to take a tougher stance at the EU summit in Helsinki with regard to Turkey's efforts to secure candidate status.

Phileleftheros claimed that the Greek government would harden its stance ahead of the summit and that intensive, behind-the-scenes bargaining@ was expected. This approach was decided at the Simitis-Clerides meeting, with progress on the Cyprus issue the main condition being set by Greece for backing Turkey' s candidate status. Greece wanted to link the according of candidate status to Turkey to progress at the New York proximity talks as well as to specific steps being taken by Ankara within the framework of the EU road map', which would be approved at Helsiniki. Athens appeared to have invested more hopes in the road map', which would set out the different stages of Turkey's accession course.

Politis reported that none of the EU member countries would reveal their hands ahead of the Helsinki summit. The message of the Clerides-Simitis meeting, despite the fact that no statements were made, was that Greece's support for Turkey's candidate status should not be taken for granted. If there was progress on Cyprus, the Greek veto would be lifted, but if there was not Athens would block the according of candidate status.

Simerini echoed these views, claiming that the diplomatic bargaining would go on until the eleventh hour. And if Turkey was to make a goodwill gesture, this would take place at the Helsinki summit. Simitis had committed himself to using Greece's veto at Helsinki and would face a high political cost at home if he gave in to US pressure not to use it.

Haravghi, discussing the conditions that Greece would set in Helsinki, said that it was utopian to expect any progress at the New York proximity talks. On the contrary, diplomatic sources had said, that there would be an attempt to dilute the Abasis of the talks. This was made evident during the briefing of the two sides about the format of the talks.

Machi quoted President Clerides as saying that he did not expect any progress on the substance of the Cyprus problem before the Helsinki summit. There would not be enough time for the proximity talks to address all the issues of substance before the summit, Clerides said. In yesterday's other stories, Alithia reported that Cyprus' total debt was estimated to be in the region of 7.6 billion pounds. According to information given by the Central Bank, the loans given out by by the commercial banks and co-operatives was 5.18 billion pounds.

Simerini reported that an attractive Russian artiste had been the cause of an acrimonious divorce, with a father of four abandoning his wife and family for her. The irony was that while divorce proceedings were under way, the Russian beauty had returned to her country.

Politis reported that a group of heretics had organised themselves into a cultural group and were collecting subsidies from the state for seven years. The group is a subsidiary of an English cult known as EMIN. There are 25 members who regularly visit in the village of Pyrga.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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