NEWS

Clerides, Denktash to meet in Nicosia today, after four years

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are to hold their first face-to-face meeting in four years today, in Nicosia. Attending the talks will be the UN special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto. The meeting comes at a time when international pressure is growing for a solution to the Cyprus problem, given that the EU is to decide in a year’s time on Cyprus’s accession to the union. Cypriot government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that Clerides «is ready to face any scenarios presented by Denktash… The object of (today’s) talks is to bypass difficulties to achieve progress on the basis of the Security Council resolutions.» Denktash met yesterday with political party leaders in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus that he leads. «I will not say anything on what we will talk about or not talk about with Clerides. We are going to the meeting with good intentions,» he told reporters. Meanwhile, representatives of some 40 left-leaning organizations submitted a letter to Denktash’s office urging him to make peace with Clerides «for the common benefit of both communities on the island, the European Union, Turkey and Greece.» Deputy Labor Minister Rovertos Spyropoulos hinted yesterday that the government wants to end working women’s privilege of earlier retirement to that of men yesterday, earning the applause of women participants in a conference on «Social Security Reform and Gender Equality» and criticism from (male) union leaders. Socialist Euro-MP Anna Karamanou, the conference organizer, said earlier retirement for women reflected their second-class status in the labor market and criticized unionists for «regarding motherhood… as a sort of severe disability.» «Until we achieve equality in women’s access to the workforce, we are obliged to defend women’s rights,» replied Christos Polyzogopoulos, president of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE). Other unionists criticized Spyropoulos and said that if the government held such positions, a dialogue on social security reform could prove impossible