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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Christofias needs to watch his words ]

Christofias needs to watch his words

SINCE TAKING over as president five weeks ago, Demetris Christofias has gone out of his way to reverse the negative climate that had been created by his predecessor over the previous five years. His meeting with Mehmet Ali Talat on March 21, at which they agreed to the opening of Ledra Street, the setting up of technical committees and the start of fully-fledged negotiations three months later, heralded a new era in relations between the two communities.

The change in public mood, which the former mayor of Nicosia Lellos Demetriades spoke about, is evident. Thousands of people have crossed to the north since the opening of the new crossing because the new government is no longer trying to prevent contact. On the contrary, it has been encouraging more contact. This new, positive approach, in just a few weeks, has permeated our society despite the insistence of the television stations to keep alive the old distrust and suspicion promoted by the previous government.

Christofias deserves most of the credit for this change. He has shunned the confrontational and hostile rhetoric of the past, avoiding the blame-game and conveying a message of hope and optimism whenever he speaks publicly. It was therefore a surprise to hear the statement he made last Friday, on his return to Cyprus from London, about the entry of three Turkish Cypriot policemen into the buffer-zone. He said that “I want to tell the Cypriot people that Mr Talat is not guilty for these violations,” suggesting that the Turkish army was to blame.

This view drew a strong reaction from Talat’s spokesman, who said there was no rift with the Turkish army and accused Christofias of engaging in “the blame-game”, so that there would be no progress in Cyprus talks. The reaction was understandable because the implication of the president’s comment was that Talat was the occupation army’s yes-man who had little say over what went on in the north. If his aim was to absolve Talat of responsibility for the Ledra Street incident, he had gone about it in the wrong way. Perhaps he had not given the matter adequate thought.

Hopefully such slip-ups will be avoided in the future, because it would be a shame to allow a thoughtless statement, made with the best of intentions, to destroy the good climate being created. Such views will not only antagonise Talat, but also provide ammunition to the Greek Cypriots opposed to progress who are constantly looking for ways to stop progress. Christofias needs Talat on side if his objective is a settlement.

He cannot publicly insult the man with whom he will be negotiating in a few months’ time.


(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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