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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-12-08

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>

Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Pessimism over talks

THE OBSESSION with the UN proximity talks was evident in all the front pages as well as the editorial columns, most of which sounded a pessimistic note. Phileleftheros, leading with a related topic, said that France and Germany had threatened reprisals against Cyprus if Greece vetoed the according of EU candidate status to Turkey at the EU summit in Helsinki. Both countries were unwilling to satisfy Greece's demand - that no conditions be set for Cyprus' EU accession. France had suggested the following wording with regard to Cyprus' accession course - no third country could veto the accession of a candidate country. This wording, which had the support of Germany, was a long way off from what Greece had been seeking. Meanwhile, Turkey's President Suleyman Demirel was also issuing threats. He said that if Greece used its veto against Turkey there would be tension between the two countries. Politis claimed that UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan had asked President Clerides to scale down his territorial demands. Clerides had proposed that 24 per cent of territory should be under the control of the Turkish Cypriot side. This, according to Annan, was Aa long way off from the percentage envisaged by the Boutros- Ghali map presented in 1992. Annan had reportedly told Clerides that Rauf Denktash would never accept this. A reliable source had described the Greek Cypriot proposal as unrealistic, while foreign diplomats had suggested there could be a compromise at between 28 and 29 per cent. Meanwhile, Denktash had protested to Annan about a statement by Greece's president who had said that Cyprus was Greece. Haravghi said that the future of the proximity talks depended exclusively on whether Turkey would be accorded EU candidate status at the Helsinki summit. Reliable sources at the UN claimed that Denktash had instructions from Ankara to stay at the New York talks until the weekend EU summit in Helsinki, which would decide about Turkey's candidate status. In its front-page editorial, the paper claimed it had been vindicated by events. The only reason that the proximity talks were being held was in order to help Turkey secure EU candidate status. The talks were being used by the US in order to apply pressure on Greece not to use its veto. However, no pressure had been applied on the Turkish side, which remained as intransigent as ever. Alithia gave prominence to an observation made by UN spokesman Fred Eckhart, who had said that the talks would continue until the participants felt they could not achieve further progress or until it could be announced that the deadlock had been broken. UN plans envisaged the talks to last 10 days, but UN officials were prepared for a longer haul if the need arose. In its editorial, the paper complained about the reluctance of the big powers to stop the neo-sultans of Ankara from provoking, making threats, and injuring the peace efforts. It asked: What was the purpose of Demirel's warning about a return to a period of tension? Machi was the only paper to carry a relatively positive report. It said that the talks had focused on issues of substance, and there were quite a few people who expected some progress. It was much less optimistic in its editorial column in which it asked: Could it be that everything related to the talks have just one purpose - to serve specific interests and expediency? Simerini, in its editorial, argued that the lifting of the Greek veto at Helsinki should not be conditional on Cyprus' unimpeded EU accession course but on a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem. It concluded that we should not accept any kind of progress, much less the positive development of Denktash attending talks, as a reason for lifting the veto against Turkey.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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