December 6, 1996

Embassy of Cyprus
Press & Information Office
2211 R Street NW
Washington DC 20008
(202) 232-8993
(202) 234-1936 Fax


In recent weeks international efforts spearheaded by the United States and Great Britain have aimed at preparing the groundwork for a resumption of direct talks next year, talks that will hopefully lead to a comprehensive Cyprus settlement. Concurrent with this effort, U.N. officials, with the support of the permanent Security Council members, are hosting military talks between the commanders of Turkey's occupation troops and the Cyprus National Guard, in an attempt to defuse tensions tensions resulting from a series of recent Turkish provocations, including the murder of four unarmed Greek Cypriot civilians along the cease-fire line.

Rifkind: Effort to Seek Comprehensive Settlement Next Year

From December 16-17 British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind will hold a series of discussions with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and other leaders on Cyprus to "focus on the prospects for achieving a comprehensive negotiated settlement of the Cyprus problem in 1997, before E.U. accession negotiations begin," according to a British Foreign Office announcement on December 6. In a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller on December 6, Rifkind told Ciller that "every effort should be made" to reach a solution next year. The Foreign Secretary stressed "the need for an equitable solution to be reached on Cyprus. Such a solution will be to the benefit of all sides concerned, including Turkey," a foreign office spokesman said. Rifkind's visit follows a visit to Cyprus by a U.S. delegation headed by the State Department's Director for Southern European Affairs, Carey Cavanaugh. The visit was "to reinforce the commitment of the U.S. Administration to working on pursuing a comprehensive settlement of Cyprus and to make clear that the engagement will continue to be very active in the months ahead," Cavanaugh said on November 13. After meeting with President Clerides on November 14 he said "we looked both at efforts that can be made to working on a comprehensive settlement and also to improve efforts that can be made in the near future to decrease tension on the ground.'' Cavanaugh added that taking concrete steps to reduce military tensions "will provide not only a greater sense of security but actual security on the island, and that is important." The Cyprus President and U.S. officials also discussed security as part of a comprehensive settlement, including Clerides' proposal for the complete demilitarization of Cyprus and the creation of a multinational force to be stationed on the island. Despite the refusal of the Turkish side to discuss it, Clerides continues to garner international interest in his demilitarization proposal. Addressing the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit meeting in Lisbon on December 3, he said that demilitarization would "go a long way towards diffusing a constant threat not only to the security of Cyprus, but also to the stability of the region." The OSCE, he continued, could play an important role in implementation of the proposal. Turkey's continuing occupation, Clerides also told the summit, is contrary to the OSCE's Code of Conduct stipulating that no member state can station armed forces on the territory of another state without its approval. "Still worse," he added, "Turkey has continued to increase and upgrade its military forces in the occupied part of Cyprus, to the extent that the U.N. Secretary-General felt obliged to state . . . that the northern part of the island is one of the most densely militarized areas of the world." On the sidelines of the OSCE summit in Lisbon, President Clerides and Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides continued discussions with Cavanaugh on ideas to reduce tensions on Cyprus, including a proposal to suspend overflights by military aircraft from Greece and Turkey. Cavanaugh separately presented the proposal to Turkish government officials. Following discussions with Greek government officials, Clerides told Cavanaugh that the Cyprus government's main concern was about "when the U.S. initiative [for a comprehensive settlement] would begin and about seeing the U.S. initiative proceed," Clerides said on December 5, adding that "our basic aim is to work on the substance of the Cyprus problem." State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns confirmed on December 4 that Cavanaugh "discussed a variety of measures aimed at reducing political tensions and the potential for violence on Cyprus." He added that the U.S. believes that these kinds of measures "would be particularly conducive to helping build an atmosphere that would facilitate movement toward some kind of comprehensive settlement of the problems on Cyprus."

Turkish Demands Prevent Further Talks

The Cyprus government made clear that it was interested in measures to reduce tensions and promote the success of direct talks, but it also expressed deep concern over the Turkish demand to unilaterally abrogate an agreement on overflights, and Clerides said that talks on such a proposal could not continue without the Turkish government providing clear assurances that it had withdrawn this demand. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns confirmed on December 5 that Cavanaugh was unable "to conclude an agreement on steps to reduce political tensions." Returning from Lisbon, President Clerides said on December 6 that "we cannot consent to an agreement which would ban flights by Turkish aircraft on one hand but on the other would give Turkey the right to pull out of such an agreement and strike us." Greek aircraft overfly Cyprus as part of the military cooperation between the two countries in view of the continuing military threat by Turkey, while Turkish planes overfly the island without Cyprus government permission as part of a series of continuing military provocations.


With the date for the
start of negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the European Union approaching, the E.U. is intensifying support for efforts to resume direct Cyprus talks. "The basis on which the E.U. would like to give all possible assistance to this process is on the understanding that the direct negotiations will lead to an internal settlement in Cyprus," E.U. Presidency Representative for Cyprus Kester Heaslip said in Nicosia on December 3, following a series of meetings with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and other Cypriot officials. Heaslip, who is expected to submit a report on the results of his contacts in Cyprus to the E.U. Council of Ministers summit in Dublin later this month, added that a successful conclusion to direct talks "will make it possible for a federal, bizonal, bicommunal Cyprus to negotiate with the E.U., and that these negotiations will certainly begin at the end of 1997 or beginning of 1998." The E.U. representative said that in the year before the start of negotiations the E.U. member-states "trust, hope and pray the parties in Cyprus will be able to reach a successful conclusion to the negotiations." Referring to the numerous visits to Cyprus recently by European officials, Heaslip said they are a "sign of the interest that the E.U. is taking in Cyprus and our concern that the . . . peace process, which has quickened recently, will be maintained, strengthened and quickened further." The Cyprus government believes that E.U. accession is integral to efforts to reach an overall settlement and that E.U. member-states can play an important role in working to break the current deadlock. "We call on our European partners to contribute to the resolution of the problem because, though seeking E.U. accession, our primary concern is to settle the Cyprus question," Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides said on November 29. E.U. accession is "a leverage for a Cyprus solution," he continued, and criticized statements implying that the Cyprus problem must be solved prior to accession. "Any statement designed to cast doubt on the conclusion of Cyprus' accession process hampers the peace effort for a settlement and the role which this process can play." Such a view prevents E.U. accession from serving as a catalyst for an overall settlement and encourages Turkish intransigence, Cyprus Government spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said on November 4, adding that "those who tell the Turkish side that Cyprus will not join the E.U. if a Cyprus solution is not found are doing the worst service to efforts towards this goal."

Economy Meets Convergence Criteria

The Cyprus economy continues to be a strong factor favoring Cyprus' early accession to the Union. Cyprus is the only E.U. applicant-country fully achieving the Maastricht criteria for economic and monetary convergence, European Commission President Jacques Santer said in Vienna on November 1. Praise for Cyprus' economic vitality was also expressed in Nicosia on November 4 by the chairman of the European Parliament's External Economic Relations Committee, Willy de Clercq. Noting that Cyprus' economy was "very prosperous" de Clercq said it met the Maastricht criteria, particularly in the areas of inflation, monetary stability, interest rate, and government debt. "Even if the island were not reunited, the people of Cyprus that wish to join the E.U. should be given this opportunity," the Euro-parliamentarian said, affirming the Union's position that Cyprus can join the E.U. prior to a comprehensive settlement. E.U. support for Cyprus is based on the fact that "the status quo in Cyprus is not acceptable and causes suffering to the population," Ireland's Deputy Permanent Representative told the U.N. General Assembly's third committee on November 18, speaking on behalf of the E.U. Presidency. Stressing E.U. support for the "full respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots," he also emphasized that the "E.U. strongly deplores the recent violence in Cyprus and the disproportionate use of lethal force by the forces in the north of the island against unarmed civilians."


On November
15 thousands of Cypriots throughout the free areas of the Republic protested the 13th anniversary of the "unilateral declaration of independence" (U.D.I.) of the Turkish-occupied area and demanded an end to Turkey's military occupation of 37% of Cyprus and the withdrawal of illegal settlers from the occupied area. In a message denouncing this secessionist act, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said the people of Cyprus placed great hope that a new international initiative, expected early next year, will finally achieve a Cyprus breakthrough. The government is preparing to respond with "imagination and responsibility to the new initiative," Clerides said, but "it is not enough that our side alone desires a solution . . . the Turkish side should also genuinely want it." He called on the international community to ensure that once direct negotiations begin the Turkish side will demonstrate the political will for progress to be achieved. Clerides concluded by expressing the hope that next year "we may celebrate the reunification of Cyprus, currently the only divided country in Europe." After the issuance of the "U.D.I." in 1983, the U.N. Security Council adopted resolution 541 on November 18, 1983 declaring any secessionist attempts "legally invalid" and calling on "all states to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus [and] not to recognize any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus."

Turkish Jets Violate Cypriot Airspace In November, Turkey responded to continuing calls for a reunified Cyprus by conducting a provocative series of military exercises over Cyprus. Turkish military aircraft repeatedly violated Cyprus' airspace, landing in an airport in the occupied area, conducting a mock attack on a village, and dropping parachutists into the occupied part of the island. The government protested these violations to the U.N. Secretary-General and to the permanent Security Council members, emphasizing that they constitute further proof that Turkey lacks the political will to reach a settlement.


Ambassador Andrew J. Jacovides next
week completes his second tour of duty as Ambassador of Cyprus in Washington and, having reached the compulsory retirement age, he will retire from the Cyprus foreign service at the end of this month. The most senior Cypriot Ambassador serving abroad, Mr. Jacovides has been a member of the foreign service since Cyprus became an independent state in 1960. After retirement he intends to remain active in public affairs.
From Washington, Mr. Jacovides served also as non-resident Ambassador of Cyprus to
Brazil, as well as non-resident High Commissioner to Canada, Guyana, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados. Before returning to Washington in September 1993, Ambassador Jacovides served as Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the U.N., as Ambassador to Germany, and as Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry in Nicosia, after a ten-year (1979-1989) assignment in Washington, where he was also briefly the Dean of the diplomatic corps. Reflecting on his service in Washington, Mr. Jacovides noted that "it has been a pleasant duty, an honor but also a heavy responsibility to represent Cyprus in the U.S. I believe I have done my utmost towards strengthening the mutually beneficial excellent relationship between the U.S. and Cyprus." The Ambassador noted, however, that he is also leaving with a sense of disappointment because the efforts to end the division of Cyprus, imposed by force of arms by Turkey since 1974, have yet to succeed. But, he added, "I am encouraged by the commitment of President Clinton and his Administration to press for a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem," noting that strong U.S. leadership can be crucial in bringing about a successful resolution. "I am pleased," the Ambassador underlined, "that the efforts to end the division of Cyprus enjoy strong bipartisan support in the U.S." Mr. Jacovides will be succeeded as Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States on December 12 by Mr. Andros A. Nicolaides, current serving as Ambassador to Germany.

IN BRIEF . . .

Cyprus ratified the Council of Europe's convention on laundering, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds from crime on November 15. The convention, which aims at improving international cooperation in the fight against organized crime, is meant to prevent the laundering of the proceeds from terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal weapons sales. Cyprus also recently signed a Council of Europe convention ensuring foreign nationals freedom of expression, assembly and association.

On November 22 the Cyprus government issued six arrest warrants for individuals four illegal Turkish settlers and two Turkish Cypriots involved in the murder of Anastasios Isaac, an unarmed Greek Cypriot civilian killed on August 11 in the U.N. buffer zone. Trapped in barbed wire as he was attempting to flee, Isaac was savagely beaten to death with stones and iron bars by Turkish extremists. Interpol has been asked to help apprehend the suspects and Attorney General Alecos Markides said the investigators were continuing to identify others involved in the murder. On October 30, the Cyprus police issued arrest warrants for five persons in connection with the murder of Greek Cypriot civilian Solomos Solomou, who was shot and killed in the U.N. buffer zone on August 14.


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