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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 01:10 GMT
Profile: Tassos Papadopoulos
Tassos Papadopoulos
Cyprus faces a defining moment in its history
The new Greek Cypriot President, Tassos Papadopoulos, is a 69-year-old lawyer by training with more than four decades of experience in politics.

I want to send a special message to the Turkish Cypriots and tell them not to listen to what my opponents say about me

Tassos Papadopoulos
He immediately faces two challenges - taking over faltering negotiations on reunifying the island, and steering it into the European Union.

A key plank of his campaign was that he would negotiate harder than the man he replaces, veteran leader Glafcos Clerides, in negotiations over the divided island's future, and secure a better deal for the Greek part.

"I want to take a united Cyprus into Europe ... and I am ready to negotiate a better settlement which is viable and functionable," he said as he cast his vote.

With a UN plan on the table to reunify Cyprus, he will now come under intense international pressure to get a deal by the target date of 28 February.

The deadline is part of proposals setting a timeframe according to which a united Cyprus would enter the European Union next year.

But if no deal is reached, the Greek Cypriot part of the island will join on its own.

'Team in tatters'

Mr Papadopoulos first made his mark in domestic politics when, still in his 20s, he became the youngest minister to serve in a government in Cyprus after independence from British colonial rule in 1959.

Turkish Cypriots demonstrate in support of reunification plans
The election outcome may not go down well in the north

Since then, he has held a variety of cabinet posts under Archbishop Makarios - the island's first post-independence president - and has been involved in various phases of negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot community over the years.

However Mr Papadopoulos - who trained in London and is credited with being a constitutional expert - has criticised the current team, saying it is "in tatters".

He accused Mr Clerides of being too ready to yield on issues of principle in the reunification talks.

"We can deal with any developments in a construction, effective and decisive manner," he declared.

'Myths'

Mr Papadopoulos was backed by three parties: his own centre-right Democratic Party (Diko), the communist Akel and the socialist democrat party, Kisos.

Observers say Diko has historically taken a hard line on the peace process, and that Mr Papadopoulos has tried to allay fears that he should not be trusted with it and to dispel perceptions about his policies.

"I want to send a special message to the Turkish Cypriots and tell them not to listen to what my opponents say about me, that I stand for inequality and division," Mr Papadopoulos said.

Although he does not officially becomes president until 1 March, he has been given the go-ahead to deal with the reunification negotiations before the 28 February deadline, according to a statement released by Mr Clerides.


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28 Jan 03 | Europe
02 Jan 03 | Europe
02 Jan 03 | Europe
03 Jan 03 | Europe
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