Cyprus, Greece Launch Ship Replica
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LIMASSOL, Cyprus (AP) _ Cyprus and Greece on Sunday launched a replica of an ancient ship as a symbol of hope the Mediterranean island, divided between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, soon will be reunited.
The presidents of Cyprus and Greece, Glafcos Clerides and Costis Stephanopoulos, acted as godfathers at the christening and launching of the ship Kyrenia-Eleftheria, Greek for Kyrenia-Freedom. The Greek president was represented at the ceremony by Greek Minister of Shipping Giorgos Anomeritis.
The wreck of the 2,300-year-old Greek sailing ship was discovered 40 years ago off the town of Kyrenia in the Turkish-occupied north of the island.
``The original ship lay at the bottom of the sea for more than 2,000 years before it was discovered and recovered,″ Clerides told a crowd of more than a thousand people attending the launching ceremony conducted according to the ancient Greek tradition.
``The launching sends a message of optimism and hope for tormented and long suffering Cyprus. It is also a symbol of our determination to continue striving for a just and viable settlement that will benefit both Greek and Turkish Cypriots,″ he said.
The ceremony came a day before U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to present a detailed settlement plan to Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to end the 28-year-long division of the island.
Cyprus has been split into a Greek Cypriot-controlled south and a Turkish-occupied north since Turkey invaded after an abortive coup by supporters of union with Greece. A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north is only recognized by Turkey which maintains 40,000 troops there.
``Just as the ancient ship resurfaced after hundreds of years we hope and pray that the Kyrenia-Eletheria will one day sail into the harbor of a free Kyrenia,″ said Constantinos Orologas, the Greek Cypriot mayor-in-exile of Turkish-occupied Kyrenia, who was the main speaker at the ceremony.
The Annan plan is intended to break the prolonged deadlock in U.N.-sponsored reunification talks between Clerides and Denktash.
The deadlocked is caused by the insistence of Denktash, who is backed by Ankara, for the recognition of his breakaway state before reunification as a confederation of two independent states.
Clerides insists on reunification as a single state with Greek and Turkish Cypriot federal regions, as demanded by Security Council resolutions.
On its first voyage, the Kyrenia-Freedom will carry ingots of Cypriot copper to Athens to be used for the casting of the bronze medals for the 2004 Olympic Games.
Several members of the International Olympic Committee and former King Constantine of Greece also attended the ceremony.