Wednesday, October 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cyprus extends unequivocal support to India
Tarun Basu

Nicosia, October 8
India today found a strong ally in Cyprus, which supports its political and diplomatic objectives, as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee held intensive talks with Cypriot President Glafkos Clerides on the second day of an official visit here.

Cyprus not only backed India’s claim to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council but also “fully supports” New Delhi’s position on Jammu and Kashmir, recognising “cross-border terrorism” as a major stumbling block to the search for a solution to the sub-continental dispute, senior Indian officials said.

The unequivocal support was not surprising, considering Cyprus does not have much love lost for Pakistan which for years has had an active relationship with the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.

The importance of Cyprus to India lies in its strategic location in the Mediterranean as the gateway to Europe — it is expected to be admitted to the European Union (EU) by year-end — and the Middle East and for its strong economy and emphasis on knowledge-based industries that make Indian software professionals a highly coveted community in this island nation.

To give an institutional dimension to their historic ties that date back to the close friendship between first Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios and Jawaharlal Nehru as founding fathers of the Non-Alligned Movement, the two countries signed several agreements and memorandum of understandings ranging from cooperation in IT to public health and medical sciences.

The agreements also covered cooperation in culture, posts and electronic communications and one MoU related to science and technology.

Mr Vajpayee, after a delegation-level meeting with the 83-year-old Clerides at the presidential palace, recalled how the two countries had historically enjoyed “deep-rooted friendship”.

He said their worldview was marked by a “confluence of outlook”. Mr Clerides in turn talked about his “deep gratitude” for India’s consistent support to the Cypriot cause.

The visit of Mr Vajpayee at this time is significant as Mr Clerides is involved in crucial talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for a resolution of the 28-year-old problem arising from the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

India has consistently stood for the independence, sovereignty and a territorially integrated Cyprus and has backed the 1974 UN resolution that called for withdrawal of foreign troops that control 37 per cent of the island, making Nicosia the only divided capital in the world.

In turn Cyprus has always supported causes of concern to India, with Mr Clerides telling Mr Vajpayee that his country did not support the use of religion to justify armed attacks anywhere in the world, including in Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal told Indian journalists accompanying Mr Vajpayee.

Mr Clerides also supported the ongoing elections in Kashmir, whose last phase of balloting was held on Tuesday, and called it a “prelude” to efforts to find an solution to the Kashmir problem on the basis of a “composite dialogue” between India and Pakistan based on existing agreements.

Mr Sibal said during the talks the Cypriot side expressed interest in facilitating greater interaction between the two countries by introducing bi-weekly Air Cyprus flights to India.

Mr Vajpayee, who is accompanied by Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra and senior officials, leaves on Wednesday for Copenhagen to attend the Indo-EU summit. IANS


Cyprus has strong Indian connection
Tarun Basu

Nicosia, October 8
The Cypriot Parliament is on Jawaharlal Nehru Avenue. Near it stands a statue of Mahatma Gandhi. And the Indian High Commission is on Indira Gandhi Street.

For a small island nation like Cyprus, situated at the northeastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian connection seems strong.

And it is to cement this Indian affinity that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has come here on a three-day visit that seeks to build on the traditional goodwill that dates back to the close ties Nehru had with Cyprus’s first President, Archbishop Makarios.

It is the first visit of an Indian Prime Minister since Indira Gandhi came here in 1983. At that time, there were only a handful of Indians in Cyprus. The number now stands around 2,000 and growing in a population of around 690,000.

With more and more Indian software professionals being hired here with lucrative contracts by international software firms, the population of Indian expatriates in Cyprus is expected to go up steadily.

Cyprus has traditionally supported India in major areas of concern, including Kashmir, cross-border terrorism, its quest for permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council and on the country’s nuclear status. IANS

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