March 6, 1997

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


Unconditional Commitment to Start Accession Talks

The European Union is calling for an intensified international effort this year to reach a comprehensive Cyprus settlement. With negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the E.U. beginning in 1998, E.U. External Affairs Commissioner Hans Van den Broek emphasized in Nicosia on February 26 that "1997 should be a crucial year for Cyprus." Reaffirming E.U. support for a peaceful sett lement based on the U.N. resolutions, he said the E.U. will have to be engaged now "to try to make real progress regarding a political solution." "The international community, and the E.U. in particular, want to contribute to a lasting settlement of differences on Cyprus and to see a bizonal, bicommunal federation become a reality," the Commissioner said on February 27, adding that the difference b etween this and previous efforts to reach a settlement is that "the Union has offered Cyprus membership, and that prospect could be the key that helps unlock a solution to the Cyprus problem." A Cyprus that remains divided will be a continuing source of regional conflict, Van den Broek said, since "if there is and remains separation (on Cyprus), the country will be in for constant conflict and there will be others outside the country benefiting from the hostile situation." He called on the parties "to embark on comprehensive talks, look at a comprehensive solution . . . an incremental approach has not been successful in the past." Following a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, the E.U. Commissioner said that Clerides is prepared "to resume negotiations if there is good preparation and some convergence of minds that makes it worthwhile to negotiate." Calling for "flexibility and some sort of compromise certainly on the side of the Turkish Cypriots," Van den Broek also urged Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to "lift the isolation of his community" and display the statesmanship needed to reach a set tlement.

The status quo on Cyprus is unacceptable, the E.U. Commissioner told the Turkish Cypriot leader. No one questions that the Turkish Cypriot community is entitled to its own cultural identity, Van den Broek said, but added that the E.U. and the rest of the world only recognize a single state on Cyprus. "Do not ask from us to recognize" the occupation areas as some kind of separate entity, he said, "nobody in the world does that except Turkey and we want to abide by the rules and U.N. resolutions." British Foreign Secretary Rifkind reaffirmed on March 5 that Great Britain and all E.U. member-states only recognize the Republic of Cyprus: "We do not recognize" the occupation authorities as a separate entity "nor will we do that in the future." Ankara continues to undermine E.U. attempts to facilitate a settlement, demanding that Cyprus not join the E.U. until Turkey is a member. In Nicosia, Van den Broek affirmed that accession negotiations would start in accordance with the previously set t imetable (six months after the conclusion of the E.U. Intergovernmental Conference, expected to end this June) and would not be contingent on the approval of any third parties. "This commitment to Cyprus is a serious one and will be kept. There is no ques tion of any other country exercising a veto on the accession of a new member-state to the European Union," he said on February 27. In an address to Turkish Cypriot businessmen in the occupied area on February 27, Van den Broek stressed the numerous political, social, and economic benefits all Cypriots would reap from E.U. accession. Accession to Benefit All Cypriots

E.U. membership will "reinforce the political and legal protection afforded by the political settlement," giving all Cypriots recourse to important E.U. institutions, including the European Commission, the E.U. Council, the European Parliament, and the Eu ropean Court of Justice; while economically Cyprus would "become a European hub' in the eastern Mediterranean," Cypriot companies would have full access to the vast E.U. single market, and European investments on the island would increase. For Turkish Cypriots in the areas of Cyprus under military control by Turkey, the E.U. Commissioner stressed that E.U. membership of a united Cyprus would end their current isolation resulting from living in territory illegally-occupied by a foreign power and provide them with the freedom of movement and settlement throughout the Union. Once the isolation, which has forced thousands of Turkish Cypriots to flee the occupied areas, has ended "the new opportunities created would give young Turkish Cypriots an incentive to stay and make their lives here, stemming the exodus which has occurre d in recent years."

Turkish Cypriot participation in the E.U. accession process was discussed during a meeting of representatives of the E.U. member-states on February 24. What "everyone in the E.U. would like to see is progress that also enables all Cypriots to be involved in accession negotiations," British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said after the meeting, but "that is something which is not possible at this precise moment." E.U. Commissioner Van den Broek also stressed on February 28 that Turkish Cypriot participa tion depends on whether the "progress towards a political settlement" would be sufficient to allow such participation. If the Turkish Cypriot community "would like to know how the negotiations are going, we are ready to include Turkish Cypriots in our team," President Clerides said on February 20, reaffirming the government's interest in Turkish Cypriot participation if s ubstantial progress has been made towards a Cyprus settlement. "If there is agreement on the fundamental aspects of the Cyprus issue," the government spokesman elaborated on February 28, and "perhaps we only have to sort out the details of a constitutio n, conditions for Turkish Cypriot participation in accession negotiations may be created."


On March 10 U.N. diplomats will begin a series of proximity consultations aimed at creating the "common ground to allow direct negotiations," Cyprus Government Spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said on March 6. The consultations, which will be based on the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus and the 1977 and 1979 High-Level Agreements, should indicate whether the Turkish side finally has the political will to allow common ground to be reached on the key issues of a settlement. To augment the efforts of the U.N. Secretary-General s representatives, in the coming weeks the permanent Security Council members are expected to increase their involvement. Britain s Special Representative for Cyprus, David Hannay, who has held a series of consultations in the region, returns to Cyprus next week to continue his efforts.

Albright: Cyprus "A Very High Priority"

"We consider this as a year of opportunity because of the potential of E.U. accession. We are highly involved in trying to find a settlement and we will continue to see it as a very high priority," U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washin gton on March 6, before a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos. Albright and other Clinton Administration officials have been exploring the most effective means of achieving a breakthrough on Cyprus this year, fulfilling President Clinton s commitment to facilitate efforts to achieve a lasting settlement (see story on page 3).

Secretary Albright has consulted with British and E.U. officials on the best means of resuming direct talks, including a meeting between Albright and E.U. officials in Brussels on February 18, during which it was agreed to further coordinate American and European efforts on Cyprus.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides and British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind also stressed, during a meeting in London on March 4, the importance of coordinating and intensifying international efforts aimed at ending the division of Cyprus. Be ginning in March, Michaelides has been exploring with his European counterparts how the E.U. can more effectively participate in efforts to achieve substantial progress this year. The international community is hopeful that proximity consultations will lead to the common ground needed to begin direct talks and that direct talks will result in a comprehensive Cyprus settlement. Direct negotiations will hopefully begin during the fir st half of the year and continue "as long as is required, with the maximum help from the international community," British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said on March 5. The Cyprus government has repeatedly urged greater involvement by the permanent Security Council members and the E.U. member-states, particularly in overcoming Turkey s unwillingness to negotiate in good faith. Finally, "there is great interest in Cyprus and everyone realizes that a speedy solution to the Cyprus problem not only helps Cyprus, but strengthens stability in the region," Foreign Minister Michaelides said on March 5.


"We look forward to working with you on efforts to achieve a solution for Cyprus and on expanding our bilateral relations even further," U.S. President Bill Clinton said in accepting the credentials of the new Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S., Andros Nico laides, during ceremonies at the White House on February 11.

"Cyprus can be assured of the backing and goodwill of the United States" in its efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement, the President said, emphasizing that during this year the Administration "will assess developments in the region and consider how the U.S. can join with the international community to facilitate" an agreement. Cyprus' "sad division has prevented the country from playing its rightful role in the region," Clinton stressed, pointing out that "no nation can flourish as long as U.N. peace-keeping troops are needed to patrol its territory, as long as a no-man's zone cuts across its land, and as long as its capital city is divided."

The "enormous potential" of Cyprus to become a regional center for business, communications, education, and health, "is one reason my Administration has placed such importance on efforts to end the island's division," Clinton said. Turning to bilateral re lations, he added that "Cyprus represents more than just a problem.' Our countries have enjoyed a solid and enduring friendship for many years." In presenting his credentials Ambassador Nicolaides stressed "the particular importance the government of Cyprus attaches to further strengthening the close bonds of friendship and cooperation that exist between the two countries" bonds which are based up on the shared values of peace, freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights.

Occupation Undermining Regional Peace

Nicolaides said the fact that Cyprus remains divided 23 years after Turkey's invasion has ominous implications for peace in the region. Referring to Cyprus' proposals to promote a lasting settlement, including Cyprus President Clerides' bold plan for the demilitarization of Cyprus, the Ambassador said the Cyprus government will "continue to do its utmost to pursue peace on the island, des pite the recent provocations for military confrontation" by Turkey.

Briefs . . .

India supports "a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue which represents the aspirations of all the Cypriot people within an overall framework of a single sovereign and international personality," Indian President Shanker Dayal Sharma said on Febru ary 10, in honoring Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, who was in India on a state visit. Thanking India for its continued support, Clerides said that "Turkey's continuing intransigence . . . has resulted in the non-implementation of a plethora of mandat ory U.N. resolutions." As a result Cyprus continues to face "the abhorrent consequences of the forcible division imposed by the Turkish invasion and continued occupation of 37% of our territory."

Charges have been brought against Turkey before the European Human Rights Commission in the brutal murder of Tassos Isaac, an unarmed Greek Cypriot civilian beaten to death along the cease-fire line last August. Cypriot and foreign television crews and ph otographers recorded the attack on Isaac and others by Turkish nationalist extremists, including members of the "Gray Wolves." A woman seriously injured during the August attacks, Georgia Andreou, has also filed charges against Turkey.

After centuries underground, four lions and two sphinx, guardians of their long dead king, were uncovered recently at the royal tombs of Tamassos, 15 miles southwest of Nicosia. The statues date from the Cypriot-Archaic period, around the sixth century B. C., and although archeologists know little about the Tamassos kingdom, they believe its economy was based on copper mining. Found in excellent condition, the lions are in a crouching position with their teeth bared, while the sphinx are similar to those f ound in Egypt from the same period.

After 23 years of enforced separation, increasing contacts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots are demonstrating the basic desire of Cypriots to unify their country. Greek and Turkish Cypriots living in the village of Pyla organized a bi-communal tree p lanting on March 4. "Pyla symbolizes what we are trying to achieve for the whole island, Greek and Turkish Cypriots living together in peace," U.N. Resident Representative Gustave Feissel said during the event. The largest exhibition of works by both Gree k and Turkish Cypriot artists opened in Nicosia on February 12, with U.N. Representative Feissel stressing that such events "make an important contribution towards creating an atmosphere conducive for a settlement." The opening began without the participa tion of the Turkish Cypriot artists, however, who were denied permission by the occupation authorities to cross into the free areas by Cyprus. Greek and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders, who have begun meeting on a more! ! regular basis, announced on March 5 that they were taking steps in facilitate direct contacts and communications between them.

On February 12 the Cyprus government lifted several restrictions on foreign investment, now permitting 100% foreign ownership in the services, industry, and commercial sectors. In addition to encouraging foreign investment, the move brings the government 's economic provisions further into line with E.U. provisions. With a low (4.25%) tax rate, Cyprus already has a highly developed offshore financial sector and since 1975 has become a base for over 26,000 offshore companies, including 1,200 with offices i n Cyprus.

On February 19 the House of Representatives approved the 1997 government budgets, setting expenditures estimated at 1.689 million Cyprus pounds against revenues of 1.106 million (1 Cyprus pound equals $US 2).