EMBASSY OF CYPRUS NEWSLETTER, WASHINGTON DC (March 5, 1996)

CYPRUS NEWSLETTER
March 5, 1996

EMBASSY OF CYPRUS, WASHINGTON DC

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

CYPRIOT MISSING WERE KILLED

Murder of Prisoners a War Crime

Greek Cypriots captured during Turkey's 1974 invasion of Cyprus were murdered by Turkish Cypriot paramilitary forces a violation of the Geneva Accords Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash admitted on March 1. Asked about the fate of Greek Cypriots captured by the Turkish army during the invasion, Denktash told a Greek Cypriot television station:

"What happened was this. As the Turkish army moved, it captured Greek Cypriots. Unfortunately they were handed to our fighters [Turkish Cypriot militia] among whom there were people who had lost family over the years. Instead of taking them to police stations and prison camps, they were killed."

Fate of All Missing Must Be Accounted For

"If the Turkish side claims that the missing are dead," Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said on March 3, "we will demand to know the circumstances of their death and where they are buried." He said the issue could not be considered closed until the U.N. committee on the missing had resolved the status of each and every missing person. Cyprus government spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said the government was considering whether to press for the prosecution of these acts as war crimes. If "prisoners of war were executed in cold blood [it] violated the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war," he said. He also disputed the claim of the Turkish Cypriot leader that prisoners taken to Turkey were all accounted for. "Even among the people taken to Turkey and registered by the International Red Cross, some never came back," and he questioned whether Denktash was now attempting to "exonerate the Turkish army, which under the Geneva Convention bore sole responsibility for prisoners of war."

Responsibility for War Crimes

Strong condemnation of the Turkish admission also came from leaders in Europe, who stressed that Turkey's army, as well as Turkish Cypriot irregulars, bear responsibility for the killing of civilians and prisoners of war. Sharing the concern of the Cypriot people with the disclosures by Denktash, the European Union-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee said in Nicosia on March 5 that "the main responsibility for the disappearance of these persons still lies with the Turkish army, a fact which has been verified by international organizations."

"If Mr. Denktash and Turkey carry responsibility for the killings, this definitely constitutes a war crime," Euro-parliamentarian Mechtild Rothe, who co-chairs the joint committee, said. The head of the European Parliament's socialist group, Pauline Green, also expressed her outrage at the revelations, saying on March 2 that "the criminals must be brought to justice." The Turkish Cypriot leader's admission was "new proof of the bestiality" of Turkey's invasion, a Greek government spokesman said on March 2, adding that "international law and order remain crippled as long as international organizations fail to effectively deal with the tragedy of the Cyprus missing." There are 73 Greek nationals among the missing and the Greek government, in a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General, called the issue "one of the most tragic aspects of the Cyprus problem." Greece plans to raise the issue during a meeting between Turkish and E.U. officials on March 26. The joint parliamentary committee, as well as the U.N. Resident Representative on Cyprus and the British High Commissioner, have emphasized the need to fully cooperate with the U.N. committee on the missing. The U.S. State Department spokesman on March 5 also expressed support for the work of the U.N. committee and said the U.S. "investigation into the fate of the five missing Americans continues."

U.S. Congressmen Express Outrage

In 1994 the U.S. Congress adopted legislation, co-sponsored by Congressmen Eliot Engel (D-NY) and John Porter (R-IL), to investigate the fate of the missing Americans. In a statement on March 4 Engel and Porter expressed their "shock . . . that missing Americans and Greek Cypriots may have been killed in cold blood," and said it was "inconceivable that it has taken 22 years for the Turks to admit these horrible actions." The revelations by Denktash come at a time when, according to press reports, American investigators looking into the fate of the five U.S. citizens (among the 1,619 listed as missing and unaccounted for since the Turkish invasion) have ascertained details about a massacre of civilians, possibly including the missing Americans.

U.S. INITIATIVE MUST BE BASED ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

"There is truly a U.S. interest for the solution of the Cyprus problem and some kind of an initiative will take place in two or three months time," probably after Cyprus' May 26 parliamentary elections, Cyprus House of Representatives President Alexis Galanos said on March 2. The House President made the remarks after a series of meetings in Washington and New York with high-ranking U.S. Administration officials, including Special Presidential Envoy for Cyprus Richard Beattie, Congressional leaders, and U.N. officials.

The Cyprus government welcomes the U.S. initiative, he said, but stressed that negotiations cannot undermine basic rights and principles. "Sovereignty, human rights, and the rule of law are indivisible," he told journalists at the National Press Club on February 29, adding that it was impossible to "tackle human rights and the respect of the rule of law in a selective manner."

Reiterating the need to address the basic issues of the Cyprus problem, he said that "any initiative that is not focused on the respect of Cyprus' sovereignty, on respect for the rule of law, on basic freedoms and on the termination of any foreign intervention, including the termination of the policy of illegal settlers in Cyprus, is bound to fail."

On Capitol Hill, where efforts to end the division of Cyprus continue to enjoy strong bipartisan support, Galanos briefed the House International Relations Committee and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the reasons for the current deadlock. In other meetings with Congressional leaders, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Galanos outlined Turkey's continuing human rights violations in occupied Cyprus, and explored ways the U.S. Congress might contribute to a lasting settlement, one based on respect for human rights and the U.N. resolutions.

Settlement Promotes Regional Stability

"U.S. interest in a settlement is driven by its desire to reduce tensions between two American allies and to allow Cyprus to assume its regional role," U.S. Ambassador Richard Boucher said in Nicosia on February 29, emphasizing that "Cyprus sits at a crossroads of a region of strategic concern, a region of great importance to the U.S.," he continued, adding that "all of us Cypriots, neighbors, outside powers have an interest in a federal, demilitarized and European Cyprus, and that must be our common goal."

Although the American initiative originally scheduled for early this year was delayed largely because since December elections no government has been formed in Turkey it has not been abandoned. A Cyprus effort will be launched at an appropriate time; in fact, recent events have only underscored the need to defuse regional tensions through progress on Cyprus. "Given recent tensions between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean, the imperative to achieve progress on Cyprus has increased," Carey Cavanaugh, the director of the State Department's Office of Southern European Affairs said in Cyprus on February 19.

One of the difficulties in achieving progress are the positions of the Turkish side on many of the key issues positions which are outside the U.N. framework for a settlement. Cyprus government officials have repeatedly stressed that a resumption of direct talks is useless unless the common ground needed to address the key issues of a settlement has been reached.

Ambassador Boucher also stressed the need to fully prepare the U.S. initiative to increase the likelihood of its success. "We should not expect a high-profile U.S. visitor until we start to do a little more preparatory work. We want to make sure that whatever we do, we are well prepared," Boucher said, and he reaffirmed the American position that a settlement must be based on the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus.

President Clinton, who continues to emphasize that the U.S. initiative will be launched at the most opportune time, will review U.S.-Cyprus relations and efforts to achieve a settlement during a meeting at the White House with Cyprus President Clerides on June 18. Cyprus is also one of the topics Clinton is expected to discuss in Washington with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis in April and Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos in May.

CYPRUS ACCESSION TO E.U. CANNOT BE DELAYED

The E.U. "cannot delay indefinitely the aspirations of the majority of the people of Cyprus" who seek to join the E.U., European Commissioner Hans Van Den Broek said on March 5 in Nicosia, where he attended a meeting of the E.U.-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee.

"We are all in agreement that it is far preferable to have a united Cyprus join the E.U. than a separated and divided Cyprus," Van Den Broek stressed on March 4, but added that Cyprus will join the E.U. regardless of whether or not an overall settlement has been reached.

Now that accession talks with Cyprus will begin soon, "the E.U. has a special responsibility to help solve the Cyprus problem," the E.U. Commissioner said, adding that it was "important for the E.U. to strengthen its ties with Turkey," since Turkey's cooperation is needed to reach a Cyprus settlement.

"This, however, can never mean that Turkey has a veto forever on Cyprus' accession to Europe," Van Den Broek said. The Cyprus government, which also prefers the accession of a unified Cyprus, has repeatedly stressed that it cannot be hostage either to Turkey's inflexibility, or to strains in Greek-Turkish relations. Furthermore, any settlement must be consistent with the regulations and provisions which apply to member-states of the E.U. The growing involvement of the E.U. in Cyprus is a consequence of the decision made last year by the E.U. Council of Ministers that Cyprus accession negotiations will begin six months after the conclusion of the E.U. intergovernmental conference, which is expected to end in 1997. Given the timetable for Cyprus' accession, one of the top priorities of the current E.U. Council of Ministers President, Italian Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli, is "to reach or facilitate significantly a solution of the Cyprus question," E.U. Presidency Representative for Cyprus Federico Di Roberto said in Nicosia on February 21. He added that he would suggest ways that the Union, in concert with other international actors, can help achieve a settlement based on the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus. E.U. accession was also one of the issues discussed in a series of meetings in Athens on February 8 between Cyprus President Clerides and Foreign Minister Michaelides and Greece's political leadership, including the new Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

President Clerides said, after the meeting with Simitis, that Cyprus and Greece will continue to closely coordinate their approach to the Cyprus issue. "The handling of the Cyprus problem without coordinated actions cannot bear fruit," Clerides said on February 8.

U.S. WELCOMES CYPRUS ANTI-DRUG ENFORCEMENT COOPERATION

"The U.S. government anticipates continued excellent cooperation from both Cypriot police and customs officials in drug enforcement efforts," said the U.S. State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, issued on March 1.

Emphasizing that Cyprus "strictly enforces its tough domestic anti-drug laws," the report stressed that the effectiveness of the government efforts are hampered "by the de facto division" on Cyprus imposed by Turkey's continuing occupation.

Efforts by the Cyprus government to prevent the use of Cyprus as a drug transit point have been thwarted by this division and "there were occasions in 1995 . . . when heroin seized in London was identified as transiting northern [occupied] Cyprus from Turkey."

The report welcomed the fact that Cyprus has ratified the Council of Europe's convention criminalizing money laundering and it was hopeful a new extradition treaty between the U.S. and Cyprus will be concluded in 1996.

IN BRIEF . . .

Turkish occupation authorities have again been condemned for the living conditions of the Greek Cypriots enclaved in the occupied Karpass Peninsula. Lord Finsberg, rapporteur on Cyprus for the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, said on February 9 that he was "shocked" at the "inhumane" treatment of Greek Cypriots he found in occupied Cyprus. "I did not expect to find at the end of the twentieth century people having to endure the sort of restrictions on their lives that I found." Finsberg described the expropriation of Greek Cypriot property as "legalized theft" whose purpose is to "ensure that the Greek Cypriot population [in the enclaves] withers away, and this is not acceptable." A European Union parliamentary delegation was to visit the enclaved on March 4, but occupation authorities denied them access a move strongly condemned by the E.U.-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee, which expressed its indignation at the refusal "by the illegal regime . . . for members of the human rights subcommittee of the European Parliament to visit the enclaved."

The "United States, as the sole remaining superpower and a country with vital interests and influence in the region, has a most significant role to play in persuading Turkey and, if persuasion does not prove sufficient, to pressure Turkey to comply with the rule of law and the dictates of the international community," Ambassador Andrew Jacovides said in an address to the AHEPA Congressional Banquet on February 12, adding that Cyprus believes that for progress to be achieved, "more can and should be done in the direction of Ankara." At an American Hellenic Institute awards banquet on March 2, the Ambassador paid particular tribute to "Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award" honorees Congressman Ron Klink (D-PA), and the President of the Human Rights Alliance, Kathryn Cameron Porter, for their dedicated support of Cyprus. Ambassador Jacovides also presented his credentials on February 19 as Cyprus' High Commissioner to Guyana, where he conferred with the prime minister, foreign minister, and other Guyanian officials.

U.S. Senator Robert Dole (R-KS), who is seeking the Republican nomination for President, recently reaffirmed his support for "the efforts of the U.S. government to help resolve the Cyprus problem in a just and viable manner at the earliest possible time." Asked about President Clerides' proposal for the demilitarization of Cyprus, Dole pointed out that "since the late 1970s, I have supported the demilitarization of Cyprus as a key step to a just settlement of the divided island."


 


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