February 28, 1997
Speaking at a press conference for Cyprus' four TV channels early February, President Clerides made it clear that he would not concede to a confederal solution in Cyprus and warned that any attempt to push for such a solution would fail.
On the security issue, he supported the stationing of an international force in Cyprus, with a UN mandate, which would have the right to intervene if the independence, territorial integrity and constitutional order of the country or the security of either community are threatened by illegal actions. He further said that the US and Britain recognize the need to have an international force in Cyprus, under a UN mandate, whose composition is subject to discussion. He added that "we cannot accept Greek or Turkish military participation in this force, if troops from Greece or Turkey maintain a separate military presence here." The Turkish side demands participation in the force as well as separate military presence in Cyprus, he explained.
Referring to direct negotiations, he said "we shall not accept to enter a dialogue if we do not ensure that the Turkish Cypriot side is prepared to shift from its intransigent positions."
Replying to questions on the right to freedom of movement, Clerides supported the immediate implementation of this fundamental human right and added that he cannot accept a Turkish Cypriot proposal for a mass exchange of property.
On the refugee issue, the President said "Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash must accept that he will administer a smaller area in terms of territory, to enable the maximum possible number of refugees to return home and be under Greek Cypriot administration." Mr. Denktash, he noted, does not wish to have large numbers of Greek Cypriot refugees living in the part of the island under Turkish Cypriot administration. In 1974, some 200,000 Greek Cypriots (one third of the island's population) have been uprooted from their homes by the Turkish invasion troops.
At a speech in Athens on February 20 1997, President Clerides made it abundantly clear that he is ready to begin face-to-face negotiations in 1997 as soon as the ground is properly prepared to ensure their success. However, he said, he is not prepared, after 22 years of negotiations which have failed to make progress on any of the major issues of the problem to begin another round of fruitless talks. Such a situation he explained, would on one hand, destroy the credibility of the negotiating process and, on the other, keep the attention of the international community focussed on the bicommunal constitutional aspect of the problem instead of the real issue at stake, which is the invasion and occupation for 22 years now of a large part of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish troops.
* CLERIDES' CONDOLENCES FOR XIAOPING'S DEATH
In a telegram to the President of the People's Republic of China, Jian Zemin, President Clerides expressed "great sadness" over the death of the Chinese leader Den Xiaoping. President Clerides conveyed on behalf of the people and the government of the Republic of Cyprus, "deepest and most sincere condolences for this loss."
The President of Cyprus praising the contribution of the Chinese leader to his country said "through his great vision, inspired leadership and profound love for his country Deng Xiaoping has bequeathed to China a legacy of enviable economic growth."
* XINHUA AND CNA SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT
On February 13, a cooperation agreement was signed in Nicosia between the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) and the Chinese News Agency, XINHUA. Under the agreement, the two agencies will regulate their mutual relations concerning the use of their services and will provide information and technical facilities to the correspondents of either party. They will also exchange mutual visits of their officials, as well as journalists and technicians, for professional training.
* BICOMMUNAL ART EXHIBITION
On February 13, Greek and Turkish Cypriot artists presented their works in a joint art exhibition held in Nicosia. Political party leaders, ambassadors, MPs and other officials attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition, which was described as the largest bicommunal exhibition ever.
Opening the exhibition, UN resident Representative Gustave Feissel stressed that such bicommunal events "make an important contribution towards creating an atmosphere conducive for a settlement of the Cyprus problem."
However, the Greek Cypriot artists participating waited in vain for their Turkish Cypriot colleagues, as the regime in the Turkish-occupied areas did not allow them to cross to the government-controlled areas of the Republic.
Mr. Feissel, expressed regret that the Turkish Cypriots were unable to attend, and added that both the UN and diplomatic missions in Cyprus fully support such events as they help promote a joint future for both communities, as well as respect for otherness and their different backgrounds.
Some 30 Greek and Turkish Cypriots participated in the exhibition of paintings, sculptures, engravings and photographs which was organized by the Peace Centre, the Bicommunal Citizens' Group and the Bicommunal Educators' Group, at the Nicosia Municipality Cultural Centre, at the Famagusta Gate.
* CYPRUS PRESIDENT RECEIVES WHO DELEGATION
Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides received in Nicosia on February 18, a World Health Organization (WHO) delegation headed by its Director General Hiroshi Nakajima. The delegation visited Cyprus, at the invitation of the Minister of Health Mr. Manolis Chrstophides.
During their two-day visit, the WHO officials visited the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia and the bicommunal Institute of Neurology and Genetics.
Speaking after the meeting with the President of Cyprus, the Minister of Health expressed appreciation for the assistance provided to Cyprus by WHO. Mr. Nakajima on his part said "Cyprus has made great progress in health care" and he referred to special programmes against A Thalassemia, a blood disease. He did however, express concern about the quality and standards of health care in the Turkish-occupied part of the island, stressing that the provision of health care to all Cypriot citizens should not be hindered. "We are working together with the UN High Commission for Refugees to try to secure this," he said.
The regime in the occupied part of Cyprus often places obstacles to the health treatment of the enclave Greek Cypriots and Maronite Cypriots who live in the northern part of the island.
On February 9, Joseph Moutiris, a Limassol General Hospital Doctor who has been voluntarily examining patients of the Maronite community in the occupied part of Cyprus every other Saturday, was forced by the occupation regime to interrupt his work and abandon his mission while 15 more patients were waiting to be examined.