Cyprus Embassy Newsletter, Washington, DC, August 8, 1997
Published by Embassy of Cyprus Press & Information Office, 2211 R Street, NW, Washington DC 20008, (202) 232-8993, (202) 234-1936 Fax. The Cyprus Government Web site is at http://www.pio.gov.cy/ (and mirrored in the U.S. at http://www.kypros.org/ which also maintains an electronic archive of the newsletter).
Critical New Round of U.N. Talks Begins
Turkeys Threat to Integrate Occupied Areas Undermines U.N. Effort
An intense round of U.N.-sponsored direct talks aimed at achieving progress towards a comprehensive Cyprus settlement will be held in Switzerland from August 11-16.
This round of talks is "of the utmost importance for a Cyprus settlement and an opportunity for an overall discussion on the Cyprus problem," Cyprus government spokesman Manolis Christofides said on August 5, adding that the government hopes "to continue these talks, which we believe offer a unique opportunity to break the deadlock and make progress towards a solution."
At the conclusion of the first round of talks, held in upstate New York from July 9-12, the U.N. Secretary-Generals Special Advisor on Cyprus, Diego Cordovez, presented Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash with a "non-paper" which contained suggestions about "the modalities for a sustained negotiating process."
During this round of talks the aim is to reach a common position on the ideas presented during the first round, U.N. Resident Representative Gustave Feissel said on August 8. The "non-paper" he continued, contained "ideas and suggestions for a joint statement . . . on how they propose to proceed towards an overall settlement."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan opened the New York talks by calling on the parties to "begin consideration of the actual documents and legal instruments that will constitute the comprehensive settlement." He therefore proposed a negotiating process "leading to the incremental construction of the juridical framework within which the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities will forge a new partnership."
Expressing his satisfaction that the first round had been conducted in a positive atmosphere, President Clerides announced that the government will submit a document during the second round outlining the Greek Cypriot positions on the issues presented by Cordovez. The Cyprus government also supports the U.N. suggestion that each party submit a draft constitution by the end of the year.
The Cyprus government has fully committed itself to the U.N. effort, and Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides stressed on July 26 that the Cyprus government looks "forward to a settlement in Cyprus on the basis of international law."
Turkey Undertakes Moves to Integrate Occupied Areas
The reaction of the United States, the U.K., and other members of the international community to the successful completion of the first round of talks has been favorable. Despite these developments, expectations that Ankara would finally display the goodwill to reach a Cyprus settlement have dampened as Turkey has undertaken a series of new provocations.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash threatened not to attend the second round of talks, following the reaffirmation by the European Union that Cyprus would be part of the next phase of E.U. enlargement (see page 4).
The Turkish government continues to violate Cyprus' airspace and territorial waters-including the docking of six Turkish navy vessels on July 20 in the harbor of occupied Kyrenia-and, during a provocative visit to the occupied areas on July 20, the anniversary of Turkey's brutal invasion of Cyprus, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash announced that Ankara would begin to take steps to integrate the occupied areas into Turkey.
On August 6 the Turkish government further escalated the situation when Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem arrived in the occupied areas and signed a wide-ranging agreement creating an "Association Council" to supervise integration of the occupied areas including, according to the agreement, "measures concerning an economic and financial integration . . . and a partial integration of security, defense, and foreign policy issues."
President Clerides said on August 8 he was concerned by recent Turkish actions: "I hope (Denktash) is not looking for excuses to cover a lack of political will on his and Ankara's part for a solution." He expressed concern on August 7 that the aim of the agreement "for partial integration with Turkey is to get . . . a response from us" that the Cyprus government would not attend the second round of talks--an option he has rejected.
Ankara was attempting to create a new fait accompli only days before the start of new talks, Foreign Minister Kasoulides said on August 8, an indication of "Turkey's intention to undermine efforts for a solution."
The government has strongly protested Turkey's latest provocations to the U.N. as a blatant attempt to consolidate the current division of Cyprus¾a division enforced by Turkey's occupation troops. Turkey's actions are in contravention of the U.N. Charter, the 1960 treaties establishing the Republic of Cyprus, and the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus. Coming on the eve of what is to be a critical round of U.N. talks, this attempt to create a new fait accompli is an affront to the international community.
Turkish Threat Widely Criticized
The United States, the U.K., Russia, and Greece criticized Turkey's threats to integrate the occupied areas. "We do not believe that was a helpful step," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said on August 8, "because we don't want to see steps taken which undermine the U.N. negotiating process." He emphasized that the Clinton Administration believes the current U.N. effort "is the correct venue for the resolution of differences."
"We do not think this announcement was helpful," the State Department spokesman said on August 7, adding that "we do not want to see any steps taken which undermine the U.N. negotiation process or which move toward the permanent partition of the island."
"The U.S. strongly supports the U.N. negotiations process to resolve the Cyprus dispute," according to a State Department statement on August 8, and it urges "the parties to work towards a positive outcome that bridges differences dividing the two communities on Cyprus."
Calling the attempt to prevent Cyprus from joining the E.U. until Turkey does "extortion on a grand scale," Cyprus government spokesman Christofides emphasized on July 29 that E.U. accession will benefit all Cypriots. "The Turkish Cypriot community will not have a problem of survival and safety within Europe," he said, since the E.U. "strictly adheres to the protection of the rights of its citizens." (See page 4.)
Cyprus will not be deterred from future E.U. membership, despite Turkey's provocations, the government spokesman added on August 7: "Our European course is of vital importance and we will take all necessary measures to safeguard it."
Albright: "Important Time" for Cyprus
The U.S. and other parties believe that one of the key factors currently facilitating a settlement is the prospect of Cyprus accession to the E.U.
"We believe that this is an important time" to achieve progress on Cyprus, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright emphasized on August 6, adding that currently and in the past she has "taken a great interest in the Cyprus negotiations . . . We believe that this very long-running dispute is in a place where there could be some resolution, especially as they move towards a desire to be part of the E.U."
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke also reaffirmed on July 8 that "the U.S. is very strongly in favor of an undivided Europe and the U.S. strongly supports Cyprus' accession talks with the E.U."
Fate of Cypriot Missing to Be Ascertained
President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash agreed in Nicosia on July 31 to ascertain the fate of all Cypriot missing¾the first time such an agreement has been reached since Turkey's 1974 invasion.
The aim of the agreement "is to determine the fate of every single missing person in the most convincing manner," Cyprus government spokesman Manolis Christofides said on August 1, adding that in cases where there is evidence that the missing persons might still be alive, the "investigations will continue until their fate is determined."
Clerides and Denktash also discussed the plight of the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas, including severe restrictions on their freedom of movement.
The meetings in Nicosia followed a proposal by President Clerides during the first round of talks that the leaders of the two communities meet to resolve humanitarian issues.
The agreement has been welcomed by the U.N., U.S., Russia, and others, with the U.S. State Department spokesman on August 1 characterizing the agreement as "a positive and important step."
U.S. Congress: Cyprus Occupation "Unacceptable and Detrimental"
The U.S. Congress has strongly reaffirmed that "the status quo on Cyprus is unacceptable and detrimental to the interests of the U.S. in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond . . . lasting peace and stability on Cyprus could be best secured by a process of complete demilitarization leading to the withdrawal of all foreign occupation forces."
Overwhelmingly adopted (417-4) by the House on July 22 and unanimously by the Senate on July 23, the resolutions, (H.Con.Res. 81 and S.Con.Res. 41), also emphasize that a Cyprus settlement must be based on international law, the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus, and respect for fundamental human rights.
The resolution also underlines the need for a settlement "in accordance with the norms and requirements for accession to the E.U."
It "is a situation that cries out for just redress and an end to the occupation of Cyprus by foreign troops," U.S. House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY) said on July 22, during House debate on the resolution. Gilman, and the ranking International Relations Committee Democrat, Lee Hamilton (D-IN), were among the original co-sponsors of the resolution.
Citing widespread bipartisan Congressional support for an intensified U.S. effort on Cyprus, Gilman said the resolution "puts the Congress firmly behind an energetic U.S. leadership role in seeking a realistic solution to the Cyprus situation."
In their remarks, many in Congress expressed their frustration that despite repeated promises of flexibility Turkey continues to undermine efforts to reach a settlement.
"The illegal occupation of Cyprus must end. The island must be demilitarized. Turkish troops must be forced off the island. The island must be unified, justice must be served, and the President of the U.S. must make it a foreign policy priority," Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said.
"The Cyprus problem is clearly one of illegal invasion and occupation," Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said, and he outlined several conditions which "I believe that U.S. must pressure the Turkish government to accept." These included acceptance of Cyprus' sovereignty as outlined in the U.N. resolutions, acceptance by Turkey that "any solution to the Cyprus problem must be based on internationally-accepted standards of human rights," and acceptance by Turkey that "all foreign troops should be withdrawn" from Cyprus.
In his remarks to the Senate Joseph Biden (D-DE), who co-sponsored the resolution in the Senate along with Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), also expressed concern with the dangers to regional peace created by Turkey's occupation army. "For 23 years Cyprus has been divided, with the northern part occupied by Turkish troops," Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) emphasized, adding that "since Cyprus has become one of the most heavily armed places in the world, the possibility for serious hostilities is high." He concluded by expressing the hope "that this resolution will serve to energize the parties to come to a just and lasting arrangement."
Intensified Pressure on Turkey Needed
During a Special Order in the House of Representatives, organized by Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), on the 23rd anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus many in Congress called on the U.S. Administration to further intensify efforts to pressure Turkey to end the occupation.
"In order for a lasting peace to be found, the Turkish militarization of the island and of the region must end," Bilirakis said. Referring to Turkish government threats "that it will take all necessary steps, including military actions . . . Without U.S.. leadership it is unlikely that a lasting peace can be negotiated," he stressed.
Given Turkey's continuing intransigence, Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) told his colleagues that he was sponsoring legislation "that would cut off all economic and military assistance to Turkey until that country complies with several conditions, including progress toward withdrawal from Cyprus."
Congressman John Porter (R-IL) said that Cyprus' accession to the E.U. "will be a catalyst for Greek and Turkish Cypriots of goodwill to find a lasting peace and reunite a divided country." He also called on U.S. military officials to urge their Turkish counterparts "to begin withdrawing the troops as a first step toward unification."
Cyprus & the EU: The Road to Accession
E.U. Says Cyprus Part of Next Enlargement
The European Union's reaffirmation that Cyprus will be in the first group of countries to be considered for E.U. enlargement has been welcomed by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, who said it would serve as "a catalyst towards a solution to the Cyprus problem."
On July 16 the European Commission published its blueprint for the next phase of enlargement, Agenda 2000, and recommended that this enlargement focus on Cyprus and five eastern European countries.
The report reaffirmed the Commission's 1993 opinion (avis) which found Cyprus eligible for EU membership, and recalled that the European Council had already determined that accession negotiations would begin six months after the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), expected later this year.
Turkey's Blackmail Rejected
Turkey has insisted that Cyprus not be admitted to the E.U. until an overall Cyprus settlement is achieved and Turkey itself is invited to join the Union, but the E.U. again rejected this position.
Instead, "the Union shares the view expressed by the U.N. Secretary-General that the decision to open negotiations should be seen as a positive development which would promote the search for a political settlement."
While noting that an agreement would facilitate E.U. accession, the report also reaffirms that "if progress towards a settlement is not made before the negotiations are due to begin, they should be opened with the government of the Republic of Cyprus, as the only authority recognized by international law."
"Determined to Play Positive Role"
The "Union is determined to play a positive role in bringing about a just and lasting settlement in accordance with the relevant U.N. resolutions," the Commission stressed, emphasizing that "the status quo, which is at odds with international law, threatens the stability of the island, the region, and has implications for the security of Europe as a whole."
Given Cyprus' advanced level of economic development, including full employment and moderate inflation, the Commission said that the Cyprus Republic "should not encounter any major problems in adopting the acquis communautaire (the EUs rules and regulations) or in coping with competition inside the EU," according to Agenda 2000.
Accession to Benefit Turkish Cypriots
The report emphasized that the political and economic advantages of E.U. accession are now becoming clearer to both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and it noted a low level of economic activity in the occupied areas (which have a level of per capita income that is only one-third that of the free areas of the Republic).
The report also observed that the occupied areas are heavily dependent on financial aid from Turkey.
European Union Commissioner Hans van Den Broek said on July 16 that if sufficient progress is made towards a settlement, it would "permit representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community to be involved in the accession process."
Turkey's Invasion Remembered
On July 20 people in Cyprus and throughout the world marked the twenty-third anniversary of Turkey's brutal military invasion of Cyprus by demanding the end of Ankara's continuing occupation, and by remembering the 200,000 refugees and thousands killed by the invading forces. They also demanded that the international community take immediate action to stop Turkish aggression.
Describing the coup and invasion as "the darkest periods of Cyprus' history," Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides emphasized that the time had arrived for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to "envisage and plan a common future."
"... As we enter the 21st century," he continued, "we must abandon the mentality and practices which have brought about so many ills to Cyprus."
Reiterating the government's interest in reaching a lasting settlement as soon as possible, he said a fair solution must be found that "will heal the wound of the past" and establish a climate of confidence, mutual understanding and cooperation.