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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 00-01-21

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, January 21, 2000

Cordial Turkish welcome for Papandreou

GREEK Foreign Minister George Papandreou's official visit to Turkey was given great prominence, with most papers reporting that he would raise the Cyprus issue during his talks.

Politis reported that it was the first time in 38 years that a Greek foreign minister was paying an official visit to Ankara. A restrained Papandreou said that any steps that were taken regarding Cyprus should be serious. Cyprus, the most difficult issue of Greek-Turkish relations, might not be on the agenda of his talks, but reliable information suggested that it would dominate proceedings. The paper also reported that Turkish troops would participate in a Nato military exercise that would take place on Greek soil for the first time. In the exercise, codenamed , Turkish fighter jets would also participate and use a Greek airfield for refuelling.

Simerini said that Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem praised each other at Ankara airport. However, the general feeling prevailing at the airport did not allow any references to the Cyprus problem as this "could have affected the cordiality and warmth" exhibited. According to Papandreou's associates, the foreign minister was to raise the Cyprus issue at yesterday's meeting with Cem. He would ask Cem to pressure Rauf Denktash into accepting the promotion of meetings between members of the two communities in Cyprus. The objective of such meetings was "the gradual removal of differences between the two communities through a ".

Phileleftheros also reported that Papandreou would request specific steps on Cyprus from Turkey, particularly in view of the second round of proximity talks on January 31. He would put emphasis on rapprochement measures which would enable the Turkish Cypriots to participate in Cyprus' EU accession procedure. Cem's comments at the airport were characterised by their "warmth". Both he and Papandreou avoided bringing up the "thorny issues", preferring to concentrate on the continuation of the good climate created between the two countries. Cem did acknowledge the fact that there had been positive developments in relations, and said these would continue.

Alithia, in a front-page editorial, said that the reception given to Papandreou by the Turkish press, Awas related to the new economic and European thinking of the Turkish elite, which obviously influenced the political views of the Ankara administration@. It heralded the dawning of a new era and cited the following examples to illustrate the point: 1) Prime Minister Ecevit admitted that the difference with Greece were not so important or difficult to overcome; 2) The Turkish elite felt indebted to Greece's help in Turkey's drive for EU membership; 3) extremist nationalist tendencies in Turkey were being marginalised; 4) Cem's remark that the earthquakes of last year had shown that Greeks and Turks were closer to each other than what they had thought; 5) press reports that only the bitter cold would prevent the Turkish people from fully expressing their feeling towards Papandreou and his government.

Haravghi reported that many differences remained between the government and the unions over the issue of tax allowances. This was the conclusion of union representatives after a meeting with finance minister Takis Klerides, who had failed to make any proposal "that would remedy the (tax) injustices against salaried workers", the paper said. Peo union boss Bambis Kyritsis said the government was opposed to the allowances because these would have an inflationary effect. Kyritsis insisted that there should be a fairer distribution of tax burden as wage earners paid much higher tax than companies that found loopholes in the law that enabled them to pay less tax.

Machi said that Popular Bank executive chairman Kikis Lazarides was the most popular choice as presidential candidate among communist party Akel supporters.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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