CYPRUS EMBASSY

Cyprus Embassy Newsletter, Washington, DC, September 5, 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).

Turkish Demands Prevent Progress in U.N. Talks

Security Council Critical of Turkish Stance During Second Round of Talks

The Security Council felt “concern and disappointment that further substantive progress at this time was impeded by the attempt to bring preconditions to the table by the other party and here, of course, I mean the Turkish Cypriots,” Security Council President Sir John Weston said on August 20.

He made the remarks following a briefing on the second round of U.N. direct talks on Cyprus by the Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Cyprus, Diego Cordovez.

Weston used unusually direct language to criticize the inflexibility and intransigence of the Turkish side, while emphasizing that “commendation was due to President Clerides for the flexibility and cooperation that he had showed at this round of talks.”

Held in Glion, Switzerland, from August 11-15, the second round of direct talks failed to achieve progress following the Turkish side’s insistence on new preconditions.

As a result, “there was a sense of disappointment that it hadn't been possible . . . to make more progress” during the second round of talks, Weston said, and he expressed the hope that direct talks would resume early next year, following Presidential elections in Cyprus. He also reaffirmed that “the present status quo [on Cyprus] is unacceptable,” and he called for continued efforts by the Secretary-General in “pursuit of the comprehensive settlement we all seek, in accordance with the Security Council resolutions.”

In light of a series of serious provocations in recent weeks by Turkey–provocations which subverted the U.N. effort–Weston also urged the parties in the coming months not to take actions “to raise the level of tension further on the island or diminish the chances of making progress toward a peace settlement.”

Clerides Proposal to Reduce Military Tensions Rejected

“We are exactly where we were when we came here,” Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said at the conclusion of the second round of talks on August 15, and he detailed the refusal of the Turkish side either to endorse documents prepared by the U.N. or to discuss ways of reducing the threat of a military confrontation on Cyprus.

Following the first round of discussions in New York, the Secretary-General’s advisor had prepared two documents: a joint statement to be issued by the parties and a document containing guidelines. “Our assessment is that we could accept these documents if both sides showed goodwill,” the Cyprus President said. Had the Turkish side similarly agreed to them “it would have been a good step forward,” he continued.

The Cyprus President also confirmed that in Glion he had proposed to Mr. Denktash that they make “a joint declaration that the Cyprus problem would be solved through negotiations and not by the use of force . . . that we should meet and discuss reduction of military forces, (and) . . . a program of demilitarization of the island. Mr. Denktash rejected my proposal.”

Reaffirming his support for a negotiated settlement, Clerides also stressed the need for the international community to take stronger measures against the recalcitrant party. “The talks will be effective only if the Security Council puts the blame on those who are placing obstacles to a solution and if the Security Council exercises its right under the U.N. Charter to impose sanctions,” he said.

“The key for a solution is in Ankara,” Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on August 25, speaking  to the World Conference of Overseas Cypriots. He elaborated on the need of the international community to pressure Turkeyeven, if necessary, through the imposition of international sanctionsuntil Ankara displays the goodwill necessary to reach a Cyprus settlement.

The foreign minister also reaffirmed that the Cyprus government will continue to show “constructive political will for a solution and at the same time its commitment to internationally accepted principles and human rights.”

International Community Criticizes Turkish Role in Talks

In light of the high expectations of the international community that the talks in Glion might constitute a critical point in the current U.N. effort, many countries have echoed the disappointment of the Security Council and emphasized the responsibility of the Turkish side to ensure that progress is achieved.

“Responsibility for the failure of the significant efforts undertaken at this stage by the U.N. Secretary-General and his Special Advisor on Cyprus, as well as third countries interested in promoting a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem, weighs on the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on August 20.

The position of the Turkish side was “clearly obstructionist in relation to ideas of a procedural and a substantial character, proposed by the Special Advisor,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted, adding that Russia condemned Turkey’s recent threats to further integrate the areas of Cyprus under Turkish military occupation as being contrary to the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus.

United Kingdom officials also expressed their disappointment with the lack of progress, while reaffirming their commitment to facilitate the U.N. effort. Affirming that he will be working intensively on Cyprus in the coming months, including during a visit to Ankara, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Doug Henderson said on August 18 that the Turkish government has a special responsibility “to give every support they can to the peace process. I will be making clear to them that I believe they have a serious obligation.”

“We believe that President Weston's statement accurately reflected the sense of discussion in the Council,” State Department deputy spokesman James Rubin said on August 21, in commenting on the statement by the Security Council president criticizing the Turkish side for undermining the process “by the attempt to bring preconditions to the talks.”

Contrary to Turkish claims that the start of negotiations for Cyprus’ accession to the E.U. is a reason to break off U.N. talks, on September 2 the State Department spokesman reaffirmed that “the prospect of Cyprus accession to the E.U., we believe, can be a positive factor in helping produce progress towards a negotiated settlement.”

U.S. to Intensify Cyprus Effort

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright continues to consult closely with her European allies on ways to promote a settlement and to emphasize to E.U. leaders that the prospect of Cyprus’ admission “increases the chances that we will be able to resolve this long-simmering dispute,” the State Department spokesman said on August 15.

In recent weeks U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke has held a series of meetings in preparation for an intensified U.S. effort and on September 12 U.S. diplomat Thomas Miller, recently appointed as the State Department’s Special Cyprus Coordinator, will visit the region, followed by a visit by Holbrooke later in the year.

The American effort will “focus on the substance of the problem” and engage in “sledgehammer diplomacy” Miller said on September 4, in a persistent effort to reach a settlement and thus defuse regional tensions.

U.N. efforts will also continue and in the coming weeks U.N. representatives will confer with officials on Cyprus. “We have a mandate and the Secretary-General intends to continue with his good offices efforts,” U.N. Special Advisor Cordovez said on August 15. He emphasized that the U.N. effort “will proceed on the basis of a sustained process of negotiations” on the documents that will comprise a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

EU Rejects Interference by Turkey

The European Union has rejected new Turkish demands that the E.U. delay the start of Cyprus accession negotiations, which will begin early next year.

“The relevant decision (to begin negotiations) has been confirmed at European Council summits and E.U. ministerial councils, and the relevant assurances have already been given to the Cypriot government,” the President of the European Council, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jacques Poos, said on August 29.

The European Union Presidency has also stressed that Turkey should be supporting, not opposing, Cyprus’ accession to the E.U.

Regarding the prospects of Turkey’s own accession to the E.U., Poos said in Ankara on September 1 that Turkey must meet several conditions before it will be eligible to join the European Union, “including a constructive attitude towards Cyprus.”

The Turkish side is now using Cyprus’ accession to the European Union, a process which started more than five years ago, as a pretext to derail direct U.N. talks. First, the Turkish side is now claiming that Cyprus—one of six countries the E.U., in its “Agenda 2000,” included as part of the next phase of E.U. enlargement—can only join the Union once Turkey does. (Political developments prevent Turkey from being eligible for E.U. membership at the present time, according to “Agenda 2000.”)

Second, Turkey is insisting that Cyprus’ accession to the European Union can only occur after a resolution of the Cyprus problem.

Turkish Demands “Unacceptable”

“The precondition set by [Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf] Denktash, implying the freezing of the E.U. undertaking to start the accession negotiations with Cyprus in early 1998, was unacceptable,” European Commissioner for External Relations Hans Van den Broek stressed in a statement on August 22.

He also stressed that the lack of progress achieved during the second round of U.N.-sponsored direct talks “deeply concerned” the E.U., and Van den Broek warned that “attempts to frustrate any progress . . . as demonstrated last week in Glion-sur-Montreux, are detrimental to the whole population of Cyprus.”

The European Union has made a special effort to show the Turkish Cypriot community the benefits of E.U. accession, and in his recent statement European Commissioner Van den Broek stressed that “a window of opportunity now exists to build a framework for a mediated settlement to the Cyprus issue, before the start of accession negotiations, and that the accession of Cyprus to the E.U. would be in the interest of both communities on the island.”

He also pledged that the European Commission will, “in consultation with the government of Cyprus, continue its bi-communal activities and its projects aimed at informing the Turkish Cypriot community about the advantages of accession of Cyprus to the European Union.”

Turkey’s Role in Cyprus Settlement Emphasized

Turkey’s threat in July to further integrate the occupied areas of Cyprus “had not been conducive to creating the right negotiating climate for the direct talks,” Van den Broek said, and he again underlined that important role of Turkey in achieving progress on Cyprus.

Recalling the “recent pledge by the Turkish government to play a constructive role in the search for a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus issue,” he stressed that this role would “favor the deepening of the relations between the E.U. and Turkey.”

In its recent resolutions, the U.N. Security Council has emphasized that Cyprus’ accession to the E.U. can serve as a catalyst for a comprehensive settlement.

Members of Congress Demand an End to Turkish Human Rights Violations on Cyprus

During a recent visit to Cyprus several members of the U.S. Congress reiterated bipartisan Congressional support for the withdrawal of Turkey’s occupation troops from Cyprus, and insisted that Ankara respect the fundamental human rights of all Cypriots.

“We have time and time again sent messages from the Congress,” that Turkey must “observe international law and human rights and that we expect them to move forward” on Cyprus, U.S. Congressman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said on August 27.

In Cyprus as part of a Congressional delegation to confer with government officials and address a conference of Cypriots from around the world, he criticized Turkey’s threats to break off the talks if E.U. accession negotiations begin, emphasizing that “all of us agree Cyprus should be able to pursue accession to the E.U. and no one should stop this process as the standards set by the E.U. have been met.”

“We are here to call attention to the ongoing abrogation of human rights by the occupiers in the north, here we have a clear-cut unmistakable case of human rights violations,” U.S. Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) said on August 24, emphasizing that “it is imperative for the U.S. government to bring to an end this occupation.”

Following a meeting between the members of Congress and President Clerides, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) reflected the sentiments of many of his colleagues that “the Cyprus problem is a human rights problem. It's not a Turkish Cypriot or a Greek Cypriot issue, it's a human rights issue and we want to see human rights respected in Cyprus."

Pattern of Turkey Undermining U.N.-Sponsored Talks Being Repeated

In recent months the international community has stepped up efforts to resume direct talks, hoping that several new factors now facilitate a settlement, and there were high expectations that these talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would be crucial in helping to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive settlement.

The previous effort to reach a settlement through direct U.N. talks ended in 1994, after months of intensive effort by the U.N. Secretary-General. The Turkish side torpedoed those talks by refusing to display any flexibility and by insisting on positions outside the U.N. framework for a settlement, prompting  the U.N. Secretary-General to report to the Security Council that the failure was “due essentially to a lack of political will on the Turkish Cypriot side.”

Today, three years later, the Turkish side has repeated this pattern, bringing up new preconditions which not only spoil the atmosphere of goodwill needed for talks to succeed, but by advancing new demands outside of the U.N. framework.

Almost immediately following the first round of talks in July, Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash threatened to boycott the second round of talks because of the E.U. decision to start Cyprus accession talks. (See page one story.)

Next, Turkey carried out a series of military maneuvers in July which violated Cyprus’ airspace and territorial waters.

Finally, only five days before the start of the talks in Glion, Turkish officials announced that they were taking steps to further integrate the occupied areas into Turkeya development which the U.S. and other countries warned was damaging the U.N. effort.

Given these provocations, it appears that the Turkish side had no intention of seriously negotiating in Glion.

In Brief . . .

In August Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S. Andros Nicolaides conveyed the greetings of the Cyprus government to the annual convention in Atlanta of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest organization of Americans and Canadians of Greek descent. The Ambassador thanked the AHEPA members for their many years of service on behalf of a just and lasting Cyprus settlement and stressed the need for the international community, particularly the United States, to press Turkey to display the goodwill needed to reach a settlement.

 


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