In a televised press conference on Monday, April 26, President Clerides spoke about his Government’s policies and positions on a number of political, economic and social issues.
President Clerides said that from what he has been told there will be a new American initiative on the Cyprus problem in September this year. He said the Greek Cypriot side does not put any preconditions for the start of intercommunal talks but pointed out that the UN Security Council resolutions define the basis for the talks. The Security Council he recalled, has stated that a Cyprus settlement must be sought within a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship. “We have declared that we are ready to negotiate on the basis of the UN resolutions. Mr. Denktash, however, puts preconditions when he refuses to negotiate on the basis determined by the Security Council and seeks a different basis for the talks,” he said.
Mr. Clerides drew parallels between the Cyprus problem and the question of Kosovo, saying the Greek Cypriot side’s position on both issues is identical. He said: “First of all, we say that Kosovo must remain within the borders of Yugoslavia just as we reject the pseudostate and say that it must be part of the Republic of Cyprus. We insist on the return of the refugees to Kosovo just as we insist on the return of our refugees to their homes in conditions of safety. We seek a peaceful solution to the Yugoslav crisis just as we do for the Cyprus problem. We also support the presence of an international force in both instances and are against any kind of ethnic cleansing in either case.”
President Clerides believed that Turkey’s participation in a true dialogue with the aim of resolving the Cyprus problem will depend on the interest shown by the European countries, the Group of 8 and the United States, as well as on the amount of pressure they will exercise on Turkey. He said that whereas the role of the Group of 8 will be to suggest to the two sides to sit at the negotiating table, the UN Secretary-General is the person who will decide when it is appropriate to convene intercommunal talks which will be held under his auspices. If he considers it necessary for pressure to be exercised in a certain direction, the UN Secretary-General will request the assistance of those countries which will have demonstrated an interest in the start of the dialogue, he said.
President Clerides reiterated that the number of guarantors of Cyprus’ independence must increase and that no foreign troops or interventionist rights must be allowed. He also repeated his position in favor of an international peace-keeping force in Cyprus.
In reply to a relevant question, President Clerides said that Cyprus’ EU accession course will continue. He said it would be a grave mistake to reverse this course because of the EU’s stand on the events in Yugoslavia. Each country must assess its own interests first and then those of other countries, he said.