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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-04-27

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>


CONTENTS

  • [01] President Clerides - Press conference - Opening remarks
  • [02] President Clerides - Televised interview

  • 0010:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] President Clerides - Press conference - Opening remarks

    Nicosia, Apr 27 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides has described Cyprus' course to join the European Union as "the greatest achievement" of the Cyprus Republic since its establishment in 1960.

    Opening a press conference to mark the first year since his reelection in office, the President expressed satisfaction with economic development and, at the same time, concern with the public deficit.

    He referred to a number of projects undertaken by the government to construct new roads, upgrade airports and boost tourism as well as his government's social policy which addresses issues of concern to refugees, the youth and other social and economic groups.

    On EU accession talks, the Cypriot President said the Commission's first report on progress in harmonisation with the aquis communautaire was positive.

    However, he pointed out that "there is a need for immediate decisions to be taken on substantive issues" and said the EU course "will lead to radical changes in the economy."

    President Clerides underlined the need for "the biggest possible consensus amongst the country's political forces."

    Referring to Cyprus' economy, he said it must be able to survive and develop in the new competitive international environment.

    He called for the modernisation and reorganisation of the economy and said "the government aims at reenforcing traditional sectors and developing and establishing Cyprus as a regional service centre."

    President Clerides said the growth rate in 1998 increased by 5 per cent, which can be favourably compared to that of EU member states. He added that inflation in 1998 decreased to 2,2 per cent compared to 3,7 per cent in 1997.

    Referring to the public deficit he said it increased slightly to 5,5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), diverging from the Maastricht criteria, which is set at 3 per cent.

    Clerides added this is mainly due to increased public expenditure, social policy measures and expenditure for the reorganisation of the economy.

    He warned that if these negative trends continue, "we will need to secure additional external loans."

    The President said that in 1998 public debt increased to 59,3 per cent of the GDP.

    He added that the government policy aims at creating conditions of macroeconomic stability and reforming the economy.

    President Clerides described the drought in Cyprus as "one of the most serious problems" and said his government is promoting dissalination and the use of recycled water.

    Referring to the government's environmental policy, he said a number of measures have been taken, "mainly aiming at harmonising our environmental policy with the EU acquis communautaire."

    He said that government expenditure for infrastructure projects will cost over 300 million pounds (one Cyprus pound is about two US dollars).

    A new power station under construction will cost more than 700 million pounds. This is the biggest development project ever undertaken in Cyprus.

    President Clerides said the new Nicosia General Hospital will be ready by the year 2002 and the highway network will be completed by the year 2000.

    Referring to the health sector, the President welcomed the tabling of a bill introducing a National Health Scheme and said that public health expenditure in 1998 was 108 million pounds. For 1999, public health expenditure will reach 120 million pounds.

    He said that new schools were also built, at a cost of 28 million pounds.

    The President said that the government spent more than 32 million pounds to back farmers.

    CNA MA/GP/1999
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    0030:CYPPRESS:02

    [02] President Clerides - Televised interview

    Nicosia, Apr 27 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides said here today he expects to see a UN, US and European Union backed initiative on Cyprus "at the beginning of September at the latest."

    He stressed the importance of the Republic's accession course for membership of the European Union (EU) and said this must continue.

    Clerides also assured that a joint Greco-Cypriot defence pact, agreed in November 1993, is still valid.

    The President made it quite clear that he is ready to return to the negotiating table, setting no preconditions for talks, and said UN resolutions lay down the terms of such talks.

    On the Yugoslav crisis, he backed the return of the refugees to their homes, advocated a peaceful resolution of the problem and the stationing of an international force in Kosovo and stressed that Kosovo must remain within the borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

    Clerides dismissed press suggestions that the UN Security Council has been weakened, in the light of NATO action against Yugoslavia.

    In a live televised interview to the media, President Clerides said the government will continue its effort to harmonise its legislation with the acquis communautaire.

    "Our course towards a united Europe will continue because this is imperative. I do not think there is any question of us reviewing our application for EU accession," he said, noting that any such move would have been an enormous mistake.

    Commenting on the government's decision to comply with an EU directive to impose an oil embargo on Yugoslavia, he said the EU has asked Cyprus not to supply oil.

    "We do not have oil and we do not supply Yugoslavia with oil," he added.

    On the Kosovo crisis, the President said "we cannot want something for ourselves and not wish the same thing for others" and expressed opposition to ethnic cleansing.

    "Kosovo must remain within Yugoslavia's borders, we insist on the return of the refugees to their homes, we back a peaceful settlement and would like to see an international force in both Kosovo and Cyprus," the President said.

    Replying to questions, he said the government is monitoring very carefully developments in Yugoslavia and statements from various quarters about the crisis and will make the best out of them at the appropriate time.

    Asked to comment on a proposed US initiative on Cyprus, the President said "the UN Secretary-General, the US, the British and the Europeans will deal with Cyprus and I have come to the conclusion that the initiative will take place in September."

    He said the talks will be convened by Kofi Annan and the G8 (seven most industrialised countries plus Russia).

    He reiterated his readiness to go to negotiations without any preconditions and said "the UN resolutions lay out the basis for the talks. These are not preconditions."

    The President pointed out that preconditions were set by the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community who demands recognition of his self-styled regime in the areas occupied by Turkey since 1974, the withdrawal of the application for EU accession and advocates confederation as the only viable solution, all of which run contrary to UN resolutions.

    "We are ready to talk in the UN framework and the UN Secretary-General cannot invite us for talks outside the UN resolutions," he said.

    Commenting on Turkey's rejection of the involvement of the G8 in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, he said "this does not surprise us, nor does it bother us. Turkey's negative stance will be a burden on herself, not us."

    Referring to the outcome of elections in Turkey, he said that any change in Turkey's position towards Cyprus would depend on the composition of the government and on whether those who can shift Ecevit's hard-line position will exert significant pressure.

    Invited to comment on the joint defence doctrine, providing for Greek air, sea and land cover for Cyprus in the event of a fresh Turkish offensive, the President said "there is no change in the dogma."

    CNA MM/MA/1999
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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