May 9, 1997
EMBASSY OF CYPRUS, WASHINGTON DC
Embassy of Cyprus
Press & Information Office
2211 R Street NW
Washington DC 20008
(202) 234-1936 Fax
U.N. SEEKS DIRECT TALKS THIS SUMMER
U.S. Welcomes Cyprus Government Decision on Overflights If the current proximity talks achieve sufficient progress, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan believes "in June I would expect to have a face-to-face meeting" between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. This first direct meeting in two years, if successful, could be quickly followed up by others, Annan added during an interview with CNN on April 29, so that by August or September there should be clear indications "whether we are going to make real progress or not." Annan expressed the hope that during direct talks the parties will show the political will needed to achieve a settlement, adding that he would personally open the initial meeting, but that his newly-appointed Special Advisor for Cyprus, former Ecuadorian foreign minister Diego Cordovez, might chair any subsequent meetings.
Common Ground for Direct Talks Has Not Yet Been Reached Over the last two months a U.N. representative has been holding regular separate meetings with President Clerides and Mr. Denktash to achieve progress towards a settlement based on the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus, and on the 1977 and 1979 High Level Agreements. There is no evidence, however, that the Turkish side has abandoned its positions many of which are contrary to the U.N. framework for a settlement so that the common ground needed for direct talks to begin can be achieved. Direct talks are now "not on the agenda, because we are still in the process of proximity talks," Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on May 9. The Secretary-General's efforts are being strongly supported by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, who discussed current Cyprus efforts in depth on April 29. In a statement after the meeting, the permanent five reaffirmed "the unacceptability of the status quo in Cyprus . . . underlined the importance of achieving a comprehensive settlement to all outstanding issues," and "discussed in detail how this objective might be achieved." The permanent five also discussed a Russian document on ideas for a settlement which drew many of its elements from the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus. It called for the establishment of a bicommunal, bizonal federation which would safeguard the existence of an independent and territorially integral state, with a single sovereignty, international status and citizenship. The Cyprus government welcomes the "effort of coordination by the Security Council, something that was not present in the past," President Clerides said on April 30, adding that "this coordination should not only continue but be strengthened."
U.S.: Cyprus Decision "A Significant Step Forward" In line with an earlier pledge that as the U.N. effort progresses Cyprus would unilaterally adopt goodwill measures to improve the atmosphere for the talks, the Cyprus government has announced that Greek aircraft will not overfly Cyprus during joint military exercises a decision greeted by the international community as an important step to help ease military tensions on the island. "The U.S. welcomes the decision of the Government of Cyprus not to invite Greek aircraft to overfly Cyprus during the Toxotis-Vergina exercise," State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said on May 9, adding that evidently the government of Turkey intends to also discontinue its overflights of Cypriot airspace. Burns added that the U.S. hopes this will "install some confidence in the negotiating process; we think this is a significant step forward." The Cyprus government has repeatedly protested to the U.N. that violations of Cyprus' airspace through overflights by Turkish military aircraft are not only contrary to international law, but pose a risk to air safety. The Cyprus government did "not want to give (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash the chance to desert proximity talks, using as an excuse a military exercise," President Clerides said in explaining the decision on April 23, "I do not want to give him the chance to find excuses for his intransigent position." "These are our decisions, self-imposed, and they indicate our disposition, our good faith and our determination to go ahead with the proximity talks in the best manner," the Cyprus government spokesman said. Recent weeks have witnessed the growing active participation of other countries in efforts on Cyprus. Presenting his credentials as Cyprus' new High Commissioner to Canada on May 6, Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S. Andros Nicolaides welcomed the recent appointment of Michael Bell as Canada's Special Representative for Cyprus, calling it a further indication of that country's continued support for a just and lasting Cyprus settlement. Canadian Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc responded that the appointment was a reaffirmation of Canada's interest in a peaceful Cyprus and said that the coming months offer a unique opportunity to reach a Cyprus settlement. The Special Representatives of Canada, Britain, and the E.U., and U.N. Under-Secretary General Sir Kieran Prendergast are expected to visit Nicosia in the near future; the newly-appointed Special Representatives of Germany and Sweden recently consulted with officials in Nicosia, and France is expected to appoint a Special Representative soon.
E.U. Warns Turkey Over Lack of Cyprus Progress The European Union member-states have not only heightened their involvement through direct support for the U.N. effort on Cyprus, but by underlining Turkey's responsibility in helping to achieve progress. The E.U. has also warned Ankara that failure to achieve such progress will undermine E.U.-Turkish relations. These positions were emphasized in the European Union's common policy towards Turkey, endorsed and issued by the 15 E.U. member-states, and discussed during an E.U.-Turkey Association Council meeting in Luxembourg on April 30. The E.U. added that it attaches the "highest importance" to U.N. efforts for a resumption of direct Cyprus talks this summer, talks leading to a comprehensive settlement based on the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus, and that "a solution to the Cyprus problem on this basis is urgently needed to remove the cause of lasting tension in Cyprus and the region. They also warned that the "lack of progress would be to the detriment of Turkey, the E.U. and E.U.-Turkish relations. The Union urges Turkey to join other states in promoting such a negotiated solution in direct talks this summer between the parties." The E.U. common policy emphasized that the date for the start of Cyprus' negotiations for full accession to the Union has not changed; the negotiations will begin six months after the end of the E.U.'s Inter-Governmental Conference, expected to be concluded in June.
KASOULIDES TO MEET ALBRIGHT IN JUNE
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides "will discuss the current situation in Cyprus, the latest U.N. mediation efforts which we strongly support they will also discuss ways by which the U.S. can make a positive difference in resolving the problems of Cyprus," U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said on May 8, in announcing the Albright-Kasoulides meeting in Washington on June 6. Burns added that Secretary Albright is looking forward to exchanging views with Kasoulides, since she is "intensely interested in the Eastern Mediterranean. She wants to do whatever we can to help Greece and Turkey reduce their tensions, and also to find a solution to the Cyprus problem." Foreign Minister Kasoulides said the Albright meeting occurs at an important time, when proximity talks will be ending and the future course of the U.N. effort will be decided. In recent months Albright and other U.S. officials have explored with U.N., British, E.U., and other officials the best means of resuming direct talks. During a meeting in Athens with Kasoulides on May 7, the State Department's Director for Southern European Affairs, Carey Cavanaugh, reaffirmed the U.S. will energetically work so the current opportunity to achieve a settlement in Cyprus will not be lost. "The U.S. remains committed to promoting a Cyprus settlement," President Bill Clinton said on April 25, in his bimonthly report to Congress on Cyprus. "The only way forward is direct, good faith negotiations between the parties themselves," he stressed, adding that the "U.S. will continue to work towards bringing these negotiations about."
CYPRIOT WOMEN CALL FOR LASTING PEACE ON CYPRUS More than 50 women half Greek Cypriot and half Turkish Cypriot participated in a "Give Peace a Chance" conference in Brussels from April 17-19 the first time in over 23 years that women from both communities had the opportunity to discuss ways to end the division of their country. "Lasting peace can only be found in Cyprus if security for both communities is established," the women said in a statement at the conclusion of the conference, adding that a settlement must be based on respect for human rights, democracy, and the cultural heritage of both communities. They also announced creation of a "Cyprus Link" promoting continued contact among all Cypriot women. Addressing the conference, co-sponsored by the European Union, E.U. Commissioner for External Affairs Hans Van den Broek emphasized on April 17 that the current division of Cyprus was "clearly untenable, . . . carries enormous political and economic costs and places an unacceptable burden on the people of the island." A political settlement "will enable all the inhabitants of Cyprus to live in peace and security," he continued, and will allow the Turkish Cypriot community "to break out of their isolation, which is the consequence of continuing political deadlock." Stressing "the overwhelming advantages of peace over permanent division," the E.U. Commissioner told the Cypriot women that Cyprus' accession to the E.U. "will reduce tensions between the communities and transform what is at present a zero-sum game, where one side's gain is the other's loss, into a situation offering a brighter future" for all Cypriots. In recent weeks Greek and Turkish journalists, trade union representatives, and political party leaders have met to express their desire for a peaceful, reunited Cyprus, and on May 19 the U.N. will host a "Friendship Through Music in Cyprus" concert for all Cypriot youth featuring Greek and Turkish musicians in the U.N.-controlled buffer zone dividing Nicosia.
Turkish Side Prevents Reciprocal Visit
Despite this increase in bicommunal contacts, Turkish occupation authorities continue to undermine other Cyprus government efforts to improve the climate of the current U.N. effort. Following a proposal for reciprocal visits to religious sites, on April 19, 450 Turkish Cypriots prayed at the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque in Larnaca, the first such visit by Turkish Cypriots to the free areas of Cyprus since Turkey's 1974 invasion, but when 800 Greek Cypriots were to celebrate Easter on April 27 at the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas in the occupied areas, they were unable to. Occupation authorities forced the cancellation of the visit by insisting on the right to censor the list of Greek Cypriots and to prevent the entry of any journalists. The Cyprus government has protested to the U.N. over the refusal of the occupation authorities to allow Greek Cypriots to undertake their pilgrimage on the same basis as the government had allowed the entry of the Turkish Cypriot pilgrims.
OCCUPIED AREAS USED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING Since Turkey's 1974 invasion, the occupation authorities have encouraged a wide range of criminal activities in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, and according to an April 12 BBC report, this includes the laundering of drug money. British drug dealers use the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus to launder their illegal proceeds. The occupied area "has more banks that its population needs . . . Regulations are loose and supervision light for this green destination of shady money," according to report. More than 90% of the heroin sold in Britain comes from Turkey, the BBC correspondent said, with the profits sent to the "welcoming climate" of the occupied area "where it can be bandied around until its ownership is confused and then it could be taken to Turkey." By contrast, the Cyprus government continues to work closely with the U.S. and other countries to further strengthen measures to prevent the laundering of criminal proceeds through banks in the free areas of Cyprus. A U.S. government team of experts was in Nicosia on April 18 assisting "the efforts of both of our countries in combating financial crime," a U.S. embassy spokesman said, adding that they "look forward to developing further cooperation" with Cyprus government officials.
IN BRIEF . . .
In an address to the 100th session of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides (formerly the government spokesman) stressed the importance of the Council promoting the rule of law and human rights through creation of a Human Rights Commissioner. The Council of Europe has repeatedly condemned Turkey's invasion and continuing occupation of Cyprus as violating international law and denying Cypriots their fundamental human rights. In recent speeches at major American universities, including Harvard, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and New York University, and at the National Strategy Forum in Chicago, Cyprus Ambassador Andros Nicolaides emphasized that the start of negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the E.U. early next year adds a new dynamic to the U.N. effort on Cyprus, with the result that the coming months provide a unique opportunity to reach a comprehensive Cyprus settlement. Pointing to the continuing failure of Turkey to display the flexibility needed for progress to be achieved, the Ambassador stressed that the "concerted efforts of the U.N., the U.S., and the E.U. can bend Turkish intransigence and achieve a breakthrough towards a lasting solution . . . we must not be discouraged by past failures," but "must instead approach these new efforts especially in view of the accession process of Cyprus to the E.U. with determination, decisiveness and a constructive attitude." During his v! !
isits Nicolaides met with a number of state and local officials, including Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson. The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING) has contributed to upgrading the medical services "in the highly demanding fields of clinical neurology and hereditary diseases in general," Cyprus First Lady Lila Irene Clerides told a meeting of the CING on May 3. The Institute recently published its annals, which cover the scientific research conducted over the last 5 years. The CING, which offers medical treatment and support for 12,000 patients yearly, was established as a bi-communal medical center specializing in diseases such as thalassemia, mental retardation, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, dementia, epilepsy, and other disorders. Among those funding the Institute are the U.S. Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, established by comedian Jerry Lewis, which donated $400,000 last year.