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U.S. Sees Unique Opportunity for Progress

The United States "hopes to be able to take an initiative on Cyprus this year," U.S. President Bill Clinton said in his May 1 bimonthly report to Congress on the Cyprus problem.

Affirming that progress towards a comprehensive Cyprus settlement is a foreign policy priority, Clinton said on May 9 that Cyprus "has been of special interest to me since I became President" and that "a breakthrough in Cyprus could pave the way to further progress and be a model to other nations that are seeking peace."

In this context, President Clinton has invited Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides to the White House on June 17, where the two leaders will "review the situation on the island and discuss how the United States can promote prospects for a lasting and peaceful settlement," according to a White House statement. The meeting follows recent discussions that Clinton has held with the leaders of Greece and Turkey on the need for Cyprus progress.

During the White House meeting President Clerides "will stress to President Clinton that the U.S. must direct its attention towards Ankara, to encourage Turkey to change the positions it holds today and allow a breakthrough in the Cyprus problem," Cyprus Government Spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said on May 21.

The fact that the two Presidents will discuss the Cyprus problem in relation to regional security issues is "constructive," Clerides said on June 10, and although in view of the political instability in Turkey, there may not be "rapid developments concerning the Cyprus problem in the near future," the meeting can still play an important role in U.S. efforts to break the current deadlock in U.N. talks.

Unlike earlier efforts, the Cyprus government believes the growing involvement by the United States is an important new factor which may finally force Ankara to display the flexibility needed to reach a comprehensive settlement.

Cyprus Settlement Benefits U.S. Interests

"The United States has an interest in peace on Cyprus," the State Department spokesman said on June 6, stressing that "we have worked very hard and we give a lot of diplomatic attention" to the Cyprus problem.

Washington is deeply engaged in Cyprus "because of fundamental U.S. interests," outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Richard Boucher said on June 5, and he underscored the importance of properly preparing the U.S. initiative to ensure that, once launched, it will result in an agreement. "The importance of a solid foundation for talks is that talks should not only involve discussions, but rather are prepared and designed to reach agreement. We will be doing what we can to make sure that happens," he said.

A "unique opportunity" for progress exists, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum said on May 8 "because the conditions for moving forward are now falling into place." He emphasized that "the U.S. is committed to taking an important step and playing an important role . . . to ensure that Cyprus does not remain the last major unresolved conflict in Europe."

Turkey Key to Cyprus Settlement

There is widespread, bipartisan Congressional support for an intensified U.S. effort to pressure Ankara to end its 22-year military occupation of 37% of Cyprus. Turkey "remains the key to progress on Cyprus," U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN) said on May 9, emphasizing that "only energetic U.S. diplomacy will help move the process forward."

Representative John Porter (R-IL) summed up the sentiment of many in Congress when he said on May 23 that "the time has come for all of us to be outraged at the lack of progress on Cyprus . . . we must say that the Cyprus issue must, and will, be resolved."

Congressional support for heightened American involvement was forcefully expressed last September, when the House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of Turkey's occupation forces from Cyprus, for a settlement based on the relevant U.N. resolutions, and for the demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus.

During a June 5 debate on the House foreign aid appropriations bill, members of Congress repeatedly cited Ankara's actions in Cyprus as a reason to cut U.S. aid to Turkey. "The illegal occupation of northern Cyprus must end. Turkish illegal actions and lack of support for the proposed demilitarization of . . . Cyprus must end," Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) demanded while Representative Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) said it is unacceptable that "the amount of U.S. aid we send to Turkey each year is roughly equal to the amount needed to maintain the 30,000 plus troops illegally occupying Cyprus."

E.U. Sees Window of Opportunity

Although the U.S. is playing a central role in facilitating U.N. efforts to achieve progress, the European Union has been hoping that the months prior to Cyprus' accession to the E.U. will be used to achieve a settlement.

"There is a certain momentum now and I think we should use the window of opportunity in terms of Cyprus' accession to have discussions in relation to finding a solution," Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring said after meeting with Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides on June 6. Ireland assumes the E.U. Presidency in July. Michaelides has emphasized that both the U.S. and Europe can play essential though different roles in achieving a comprehensive settlement. The U.S. can play an important role on resolving security issues, particularly in pressing for Turkey to be flexible, while the E.U. "can play a unique role because it can provide valuable advice in defining the structures and functioning of the solution," and in ensuring a settlement is in agreement with E.U. principles and is "workable and lasting,"

Michaelides told the E.U.-Cyprus Association Council meeting in Brussels on May 14. At the conclusion of the Council meeting, the E.U. affirmed that the status quo on Cyprus is unacceptable and that any settlement must be based on the U.N. Security Council resolutions. The Council also emphasized "that the period remaining before the start of the accession must be put to good use in efforts to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus question."

It is clear that "Cyprus' course towards Europe is . . . irreversible," Michaelides said afterwards, adding that "it is not a question of if, but how" the Union will support the U.N. effort.

In January the E.U. Council of Ministers took an important step in exploring ways to achieve progress by appointing a European Presidency Representative for Cyprus, Italian Ambassador Federico di Roberto.

Last year President Clinton appointed Richard Beattie as his Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, and Beattie, along with other U.S. officials, have worked closely with the E.U. in pressing for an overall settlement. "The United States supports E.U. expansion and we believe that E.U. membership would benefit Cyprus," the State Department spokesman said on May 23, in reaffirming the U.S. view of Cyprus joining the European Union.

In addressing other apparently intractable international disputes, "recent experience has shown that a concerted international effort can bring results," British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind explained on May 22 as he announced the appointment of Sir David Hannay as Special Representative for Cyprus the first time Britain has appointed such a representative. Hannay has already completed a round of consultations in Nicosia on June 4 and is expected to soon begin to confer with European Union leaders.

Ghali Seeks Talks on Overall Settlement

To gauge whether the common ground needed to resume talks now exists, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali will be meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides in Geneva on June 11. Ghali met with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on June 6 in Turkey.

Ghali "is obviously concerned by the lack of progress during these many months and years," U.N. Resident Representative on Cyprus Gustave Feissel said on June 4, adding that prior to talks there must be clear indications that the parties are "determined to move forward."

U.N. talks on Cyprus broke down over a year and a half ago, when the Turkish side insisted on maintaining positions outside the framework set by the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus. The Turkish side has also refused to respond positively to efforts by the Cyprus government to address the key issue of security, including President Clerides' proposal for the complete demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus.

The security issue was brought into sharp focus on June 3, when a Turkish soldier killed an unarmed Greek Cypriot in the U.N. buffer zone.


Parliamentary elections held on May 26 saw a coalition of the right-wing DISY and the Liberal Party win the largest number of seats, 20, the same number of seats they won in the 1991 elections.

The second largest party in the House, the left-wing AKEL party, added a seat to its 1991 count for a total of 19, while the center-right Democratic Party (DIKO) took 10 seats, one less than in 1991.

The socialist EDEK party now has five seats, having lost two, and the Free Democrats Movement (KED), which contested elections for the first time, won two seats, one by its leader, former Cyprus President George Vassiliou. The rest of the votes were received by three smaller parties and several independents, none of which received enough votes to win a seat.

More than 92% of Cyprus' 410,00 registered voters participated in the elections, and on June 6 former Cyprus President Spyros Kyprianou (DIKO), supported by DIKO and DISY, was elected President of the House of Representatives, defeating Vassos Lyssarides (EDEK) supported by the other three parties. Kyprianou said he would work for the reunification of Cyprus and for protecting Cyprus' interests through membership in the European Union.

Party Vote Seats Gain/Loss DISY/Liberals 34.47% 20 +0 AKEL 33.00% 19 +1 DIKO 16.43% 10 -1 EDEK 8.13% 5 -2 KED 3.69% 2 +2


The Cyprus government has strongly protested to the U.N., the U.S. and the other permanent Security Council members over the murder of an unarmed 19-year-old member of the Cyprus National Guard. On June 3 Stelios Panagi entered the U.N.-controlled demilitarization zone unarmed and was wounded by two shots fired from an observation post in the occupied area.

U.N. peace-keepers were shot at by Turkish soldiers and prevented from going to aid Panagi, according to U.N. spokeswoman Sylvania Foa, and he died before arriving at the hospital.

"The Cyprus government considered that the Turkish occupation forces bear full responsibility for this callous act," the U.N. Secretary-General was told in a letter of protest. The Cyprus government also underscored that "this unprovoked criminal act . . . underlines once again the inherent dangers to peace and security emanating from the continued presence of the Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus."

IN BRIEF . . .

U.S. Representatives Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Michael Forbes, (R-NY) Martin Hoke (R-OH), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) were honored for their leadership on the Cyprus issue during the annual conference in Washington of the International Coordinating Committee-Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA), May 21-24. The conference participants from around the world discussed the prospects for a Cyprus settlement with U.S. Administration officials and, in their remarks to the conference, many members of Congress from both parties said they would continue to hold Turkey responsible for its illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus. Cyprus Ambassador Andrew Jacovides briefed the conference on recent Cyprus developments and emphasized the important role that the United States can play in pressuring Turkey to end its occupation of Cyprus. Ambassador Jacovides also addressed the Pan-Cyprian Federation of America's Freedom Award Dinner on May 18, which honored U.S. House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY) with its 1996 Freedom Award. The Ambassador called Gilman "an eminent leader of principle, substance and commitment" and said the people of Cyprus are fortunate that among the good causes Gilman espouses is justice for Cyprus. Gilman has repeatedly stressed that more must be done to end Turkey's occupation and division of Cyprus.

On May 9 Cyprus Ambassador Andrew Jacovides told a Washington conference on the "Greek-U.S. Relationship and the Future of Southeastern Europe" that Turkey's continued occupation of Cyprus is "a tragic anachronism in today's post-cold war world and its perpetuation . . . needs to be addressed as part of the urgent need to build new peace and security structures in the Eastern Mediterranean." Also participa-ting on the panel "The Future of Cyprus" was the State Department's Special Cyprus Coordinator, James Williams, who said a U.S. initiative may initially focus on individual items relating to security.

On a fact-finding mission on behalf of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Dutch Senator Eric Jurgens said on May 12 the fact that Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, are being held in partial imprisonment contrary to European norms and he urged the Turkish occupation authorities to improve their living conditions. In recent months the U.N., U.S. and the E.U. have called on the occupation authorities to implement the provisions of the Vienna III Agreement, meant to protect the living conditions of the enclaved.


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