Marking the 24th Anniversary of Turkish Invasion of Cyprus
U.S. Congress Calls for End of Aggression
In a televised address to the nation marking the July 20, 1974 invasion, President Glafcos Clerides stressed that the existing status quo cannot stand. In view of the Turkish military threats, he told those who criticize the govern- ment's decision to upgrade its defense capability that he will not accept any restrictions on Cyprus's right to defend itself against Turkish aggression.
Noting that "already we are on the threshold of the 21st century," the President called on Greek and Turkish Cypriots to make the necessary compromises to enable them to live together again in peace and security, stressing that the past although "useful to make us wiser," should not dictate "our lives."
In a parallel move, the President appealed to the international community and especially the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to move in a more concerted manner towards Ankara to facilitate a negotiated settlement.
The President pledged to do all that he can for a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus question and renewed his invitation to the Turkish Cypriots to participate in accession negotiations with the European Union (EU).
He said the tragic events of 1974 send the message that there must be "absolute respect for democratic institutions and continuous dialogue among all political forces, tolerance of opposite views, mutual understanding and a consistent effort to reach consensus wherever possible."
Reiterating his intention and determination to reach a compromise with the Turkish Cypriots on the basis of U.N. resolutions and international law, he expressed regret that "unfortunately, as the international community has repeatedly established and confirmed publicly, the Turkish side does not have the necessary goodwill to find a solution."
The President pledged to do everything in his power to
"improve the prospects for a peaceful settlement which
will safeguard the future of the Greek Cypriots in their
ancestral lands and secure a better future for all the
inhabitants of this long-suffering country."
I will soon complete my tour of duty as Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States and having reached the compulsory retirement age, I will be leaving the diplomatic service at the end of August. My wife and I will return home where I plan to remain active in public affairs, and especially in the efforts to end the division of Cyprus.
My tenure in Washington has been most challenging and I leave with many fond memories. I am fortunate to have had the cooperation of numerous friends and colleagues and I want to express my appreciation to them for enthusiastically assisting the work of the embassy. Cyprus and the United States enjoy excellent relations and cooperate in a great number of fields of mutual interest. Our close ties are based on a shared commitment to the ideals of democracy, freedom and justice. I am also encouraged by the determination of President Bill Clinton and his administration, as well as the U.S. Congress, to continue their efforts for a solution to the division of Cyprus whose 24th anniversary we sadly mark this year.
President Clinton has stated that he wants "a solution of the Cyprus issue very badly." Congress has repeatedly declared that the "status quo on Cyprus is unacceptable and detrimental to the interests of the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean," and that "lasting peace and stability on Cyprus could be best secured by a process of complete demilitarization leading to the withdrawal of all occupation forces."
To achieve such a solution on Cyprus the international community should impress upon Turkey that it must adopt a policy based on the rule of law. Only then can we expect peace in Cyprus and stability in the region.
Cyprus has entered this year, a decisive period in its history, when it started formal negotiations for accession as a member of the European Union. As a result, Cyprus, at the dawn of the new millennium, will be taking its rightful place within the European family. The accession process can help resolve the division of Cyprus if the Turkish side adopts a constructive attitude and allows the reunification of our country. A united Cyprus, within the EU, will provide prosperity and security for all Cypriots and serve vital interests of Europe and the United States. Unfortunately, the Turkish side refuses to join this process. Nevertheless, we must remain steadfast in our struggle.
As I bid farewell, I want to say that it has been an honor and privilege to represent my country in the United States. My sincere thanks to the countless friends who made my mission easier and who stand with us in the just cause of Cyprus.
Together we must continue to work tirelessly to see that the colossal wrong that has been inflicted on Cyprus be righted.
Andros A. Nicolaides
On August 3, the U.S. House of Representatives held a "special order session" to mark the anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The session was convened by Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) who highlighted American interests in Cyprus. "It is fundamentally important to have international stability in the global economy. A divided Cyprus continues to cause tension between Greece and Turkey. . . . A divided Cyprus also weakens American security interests in the region and serves as a source of instability in an important part of the world."
The participants were clear about Turkish aggression. Donald Payne (D-NJ) said, "Aggression should not be allowed after 24 years to still remain. Territory taken by war should be returned." Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was equally clear about the results of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus. "This act of terror has brought nothing but sadness and sorrow," she said.
The representatives placed the blame for lack of progress in efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem squarely on Turkey's shoulders. "The Turkish side remains intransigent in its refusal to renew negotiations. . . . Turkish demands have become so inflexible that we are no closer to a Cyprus solution today than we were two decades ago," declared Rep. Bilirakis.
Brad Sherman (D-CA) reiterated this position, "Rather than negotiate in good faith, the Turkish side set ridiculous preconditions, demanding recognition as a state and withdrawal of the Cypriot application to the EU."
Carrying the thought further Frank Pallone (D-NJ) added, "Turkey's new demands represent a clear step backward and must be met with equal resolve by those who support an independent and sovereign state of Cyprus."
Robert Andrews (D-NJ) defended Cyprus's right to self-defense. "The decision by President Clerides to try to defend the free people of Cyprus is self- defense and not provocation and I am disappointed that our government has gone on record indicating its reluctance to see that happen. The proper policy should be for us to recognize the right of the free people of Cyprus to have that self-defense."
During the session a number of representatives set out what the United States should do to help find a resolution of the Cyprus situation. Michael Pappas (R-NJ) urged the Clinton administration "to be more active in seeking the peaceful resolution that is so desperately needed."
Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) suggested, "I am not convinced that all in the Turkish leadership truly believe that the U.S. is absolutely serious about resolving Cyprus, and the message needs to be reinforced."
John Porter (R-IL) was even more critical of the U.S. government's Cyprus policy saying that, "If we genuinely hope to solve the Cyprus problem, which has plagued us for nearly a quarter of a century, we must change this haphazard approach."
Other representatives who either spoke on the floor or submitted statements were: Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Thomas Manton (D-NY), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), and Peter Visclosky (D-IN).
Members of the Senate echoed their colleagues in the House. On July 20, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) spoke for them when she reminded the Senate that, "Little has changed in the past quarter century. Today, 40,000 Turkish troops remain in Cyprus. The Greek-Cypriots who remain in the northern part of the island are denied basic human rights. . . . We must continue to make the resolution of the Cyprus problem a priority."
In his July 30 bimonthly report to Congress on Cyprus, President Clinton noted that despite efforts, "Unfortunately, the Turkish side took the position that talks could not begin unless certain preconditions were satisfied," when talks were held with both sides. "Although progress was not possible during Ambassador [Richard] Holbrooke's May visit, he assured both parties that the U.S. would remain engaged in the search for a solution," the report noted.
U.S. efforts continued when Ambassador Thomas Miller, State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus, visited the island for consultations in late July. In meetings with President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Dentkash, Miller sought to find grounds to restart the intercommunal talks suspended last year by the Turkish side.
On his arrival in Cyprus, Miller said the only way the "U.S. Government knows that we can make progress on the Cyprus problem is through direct negotiations."
Miller reiterated the U.S. commitment to work with the U.N., the international community and the parties in an effort to resolve the Cyprus problem.
Among the items on Miller's agenda were Cyprus's decision to deploy antiaircraft missiles to defend against Turkish airstrikes. President Clerides has said the deployment would be reconsidered if progress is made on settling the Cyprus issue.
Meanwhile, in early July, the U.N. Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Diego Cordovez, held two days of talks in Cyprus. He expressed the hope that a "reasonable, practical and fair formula" could be found to restart direct negotiations later this year.
The next steps in the process are visits by Miller to Ankara in mid-August and an expected return to Cyprus by Cordovez in September.
The Cyprus government strongly protested the presence of Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz at events marking the 1974 invasion in the occupied area of Cyprus and a July 25 visit of Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, calling their visits "illegal."
Cyprus also condemned other provocative actions such as the dispatch of naval vessels and aircraft from Turkey, as well as renewed threats from Turkish officials. "No blackmail, difficulty nor pressure will force us to surrender to the Turkish Attila," said Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides. "Attila" was the codename Turkey gave its invasion against Cyprus, which forced 00,000 Greek Cypriots to flee their homes and properties. "Cyprus cannot and should not remain the only divided country in Europe, when Europe itself is working towards its unification," he said.
Cyprus has repeatedly protested the systematic violation of its air space and territorial waters by Turkey to the U.N. The government further noted the numerous U.N. resolutions demanding the withdrawal of all Turkish troops and the return of all refugees.
In August, the United States and Cyprus finalized a bilateral agreement on legal cooperation.
The agreement regulates cooperation between the legal authorities of the two nations in preventing and investigating crimes and in prosecuting offenders.
Included in the agreement are provisions for obtaining statements, exchanging documents and identifying persons or items.
The new agreement will be signed in the near future
and complements existing arrangements on extradition of
Talks between Cyprus and the European Union are progressing well and Cyprus should join the EU as soon as possible, said Padraig Flynn, EU Commission member responsible for employment and social matters. He noted during his late-July visit that "Cyprus is in good standing, economically and socially" and that any political issues can be resolved. He noted that the "social acquis is an essential element for accession. It is not an `add-on'."
Flynn continued that the screening process on all issues "is progressing well and I look forward to a speedy and successful conclusion to these negotiations." He added that there is "great determination here that Cyprus should join the EU at he earliest possible time and that is a shared view, it is my view and the view of the Commission."
Flynn said there is still some legislative work to be done on outstanding issues relating to health, safety, equal opportunities and social dialogue.
He said the current six-monthly rotating Austrian presidency is "very active in promoting the enlargement process and there is nothing to stop it from going ahead," and that Cyprus plans to be in the first wave of the new enlargement of the Union.
Flynn met with Labor and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Moushouttas, on whose invitation he visited Cyprus. A second EU official accompanied Flynn for talks on EU-Cyprus relations, with specific reference to economic and social matters. Tom Jenkins, President of the Economic and Social Committee of the EU, had meetings with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, the Planning Bureau Permanent Secretary Panicos Pouros and chief negotiator to the accession talks George Vassiliou, as well as Minister Moushouttas.
On 20 July Sir David Hannay, the envoy of the EU Austrian presidency for Cyprus and Britain's Special representative for Cyprus, arrived in Cyprus. He was accompanied by Dr. Walter Hagg, head of the Southern European Affairs Department of the Austrian Foreign Ministry. During their visit Hannay discussed Cyprus's EU accession process, security matters, and the breakdown of intercommunal talks. "I've come to talk about three areas of policy which are of great importance both to the EU and Britain. The first if these is to try to find some way out of the impasse over the U.N. negotiating process," he said.
Hannay expressed regret over Denktash's refusal to participate in Cyprus's EU accession process. "The EU made it quite clear at that time that we are not prepared to take `no' for an answer and it remains our objective to involve the Turkish Cypriots in having a real say in this matter," he said.
Hannay emphasized the many advantages of EU membership, noting that if they were to join the accession process the Turkish Cypriots would benefit disproportionately. "There would be substanital benefits in trade, inward investment and competitiveness. The EU's various structural funds could make a real contribution to remedying imbalances which 35 years of separation have greatly exacerbated," he pointed out.
Rauf Denktash refused to see Hannay on this visit as he did earlier this year. Hannay reacted by saying, "Mr. Denktash is not prepared to see me. He prefers isolation to dialogue which I think is a pity. . . . I have never known any international problem that has been helped to be solved by not talking about it."
"Cyprus should join the EU at the earliest possible time and that is a shared view, it is my view and the view of the Commission."
During July, three significant new archaeological discoveries were made in Cyprus.
Multicolored mosaic floors with elaborate geometric compositions were uncovered at the Early Christian Basilica in Kourion. They date back to the end of the 5th and beginning of the 6th centuries A.D.
An eight-tomb cemetery has been found near the settlement of Ancient Idalion. It dates from the Early Cypro-Geometric period. Scattered Phoenician inscriptions were also found.
Neolithic fortifications were revealed at the site of Nissia the longest found at any Neolithic settlement in Cyprus.