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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-12-10

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, December 10, 1999

Greece prepares for Helsinki showdown

THERE was no shortage of speculation about Greece's stance on Turkey's candidacy at the EU summit in Helsinki, with the proximity talks being relegated in importance.

Alithia said that Greece would set two conditions for agreeing to accord candidate status to Turkey. First, a written commitment that Cyprus' EU accession course would continue unhindered, regardless of what was happening with the Cyprus problem. Second, specific reference should be made to the Cyprus problem in the 'road map' that would be prepared for Turkey. Greece had made it clear that if these conditions were not met, it would veto Turkey's candidacy, knowing full well that there was a possibility this would lead to the deterioration of its relations with Turkey. A third condition - that Turkey would agree to resolve its differences with Greece in the Aegean at the International Court at The Hague - had also been set, but on this Greece had the support of the 14 EU member-countries.

Phileleftheros said Athens could not rule out the possibility of escalating tension as a result of Turkey's reaction to a Greek veto at Helsinki. Government circles in Athens said that a heated incident was a possibility and there had been thoughts of putting the armed forces on alert. Turkish president Suleyman Demirel had warned there could be tension in the case of a Greek veto. The paper said that the chances of Greece using its power of veto were 50-50. In the event that Greece used its veto, its relations with Turkey would deteriorate, but its EU partners would accept that Athens had tried to show a spirit of co-operation. Meanwhile the US was pressurising several governments of EU member-countries into supporting Turkey's candidacy.

Simerini said that the noose is tightening around Greece, as the EU summit drew nearer. The Greek government was under heavy pressure from its EU partners and the US not to use its veto. At the same time, Turkey's Foreign Minister had issued the following threat: If Turkey is not given candidate status at Helsinki, there could be a new stand-off, that could veer out of control. Brussels, the paper said, had every intention to grant EU candidate status to Turkey. The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, had given the green light to Turkey, saying that this was the Commission's position. I cannot see why the differences between Athens and Ankara over Cyprus should prevent the according of candidate status to Turkey, he was quoted as saying.

Machi reported that President Clerides had asked for the return of another eight areas to Greek Cypriot administration in exchange for concessions on constitutional matters during the talks in New York. The areas, according to the Turkish paper Hurriyet-Kibris, included, Limnitis, Louroudjina, Yerolakkos, Pyroi, Melousia, Arsos and Lysi. The return of these areas to the Greek Cypriot administration would allow 120,000 displaced persons to go back to their homes. The publication by the newspaper of the map showing these territorial adjustments had caused an outcry in the occupied north.

Haravghi led with a report about President Clerides' failure to call the party leaders to brief them about the proximity talks. Under the headline, not even one telephone call, the report said that Akel chief Demetris Christofias was very worried about developments. Christofias accused Clerides of showing a lack of respect for the party leaders by keeping them in the dark.

Politis said there was a strong possibility that the government would propose an immediate increase in the price of oil products as a result of the high international price of crude oil. The Minister of Commerce Nicos Rolandis was expected to submit his proposals to the House very soon, but there was a good chance that the political parties would not approve any price rise.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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