U.S. Remains "Heavily Engaged"
G-8 Foreign ministers Recommend Comprehensive Negotiations
As the Clinton administration continues its heavy involvement in the search for a solution to the Cyprus problem, President Bill Clinton announced on May 28 some major changes in the U.S. diplomatic team directly involved. The President intends to nominate Donald Bandler to be the new Ambassador to the Republic, replacing Ambassador Kenneth Brill who is expected to depart in July.
The President also announced he will nominate current State Department Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Miller, to be American Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. His replacement has not yet been named.
The moves come as anticipation builds that a new initiative on Cyprus will be forthcoming in the next few months. President Glafcos Clerides has said that he expects a U.S., EU and U.N. effort by September at the latest, to find a settlement. That will be based on Security Council resolutions calling for a solution built around a "single sovereignty," and a bizonal, bicommunal federal state.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Bandler is currently on the National Security Council staff.
At Bandler's confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill June 9, Sen. Joseph Biden, Jr. (D-DE) greeted the appointment by saying, "This August will mark a sad anniversary: an entire quarter-century since the Greek inhabitants of northern Cyprus were ethnically cleansed from their homes by the Turkish Army. Something obviously must be done to rectify this tragic situation."
Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) echoed that sentiment, praising both Bandler and Miller for their diplomatic skills. "This is a very important time for Cyprus," he said, "as the 25th anniversary of the brutal Turkish invasion approaches, a new initiative by the G-8 is being discussed, negotiations for Cypriot accession to the EU proceed and a new government takes over in Turkey."
Bandler promised the administration's continued efforts stressing that, "The only way to find a just and durable settlement of the Cyprus problem is through an intensive negotiating process," adding that a settlement should be based on "bizonal, bicommunal federation."
He also said that the prospective accession of Cyprus to the EU "does introduce a new dynamic and in that sense works against the status quo on Cyprus." He further stated that "Cyprus is not just a problem; it's a country with which we have excellent bilateral relations and common interests on a wide range of issues."
Following a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou in Washington on May 26, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright intimated that a new initiative lies ahead noting that the U.S. is working for a solution and that the G-8 will discuss Cyprus in June. After meeting with Papandreou in New York, U.S. Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke also said that the United States "remains heavily engaged" in the Cyprus effort.
In Nicosia, outgoing Ambassador Brill summed up the
diplomatic effort this way: "The U.S. is doing a number
of things to put in place the pieces of the mosaic, which
will lead to a comprehensive negotiation process."
G-8 Recommend Negotiations
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministers of the G-8, meeting in Germany, and reportedly frustrated over the stalemate on the Cyprus issue 25 years after the Turkish invasion, recommended on June 10 that the upcoming "G-8 summit urge the U.N. Secretary General to invite the leaders of both parties to enter into comprehensive negotiations without preconditions."
The Cyprus government welcomed the G-8 Foreign
Ministers' joint statement, noting its readiness to
engage in negotiations without preconditions, toward a
comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem, based on
the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. The
official statement said that the Cyprus government
"believes that this time the international community,
within the framework of the United Nations, should move
systematically and decisively to exert its influence on
the Turkish side for finding a comprehensive solution,
based on the U.N. principles."
In addition to the diplomatic track, when Ambassador Bandler takes up his post, he will continue to emphasize the increasingly important economic link between Cyprus and the United States. America remained the leading supplier of total imports to Cyprus in 1998 for the fourth straight year, even as Cyprus continues to bring its economy closer in line with those of Europe under the EU accession process.
Total exports from Cyprus to the U.S. are also growing, recording a 42.8 percent increase in 1998, from $14 million to $20 million according to the U.S. Embassy.
In keeping with this trend, the U.S. had the largest
single country pavilion at the 24th Cyprus International
State Fair which opened on May 13.
On June 10, Cyprus welcomed the peace accord for Yugoslavia as "a step in the right direction and towards peace." Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides pointed out that a U.N. peacekeeping force and the role played by the G-8 "could be a sign of certain positive developments for us if the international community realizes that hotbeds of instability, as in the case of Cyprus, should not be allowed to create problems in a region in which humanity as a whole reposes its hopes for peace and stability."
Earlier on May 13, President Glafcos Clerides said that Cyprus could benefit positively from efforts to settle the Kosovo crisis, and from Greece's resulting upgraded role in the Balkans. Elements of any Kosovo solution which restores refugees to their homes, he said, coincide with the positions of the Cyprus government's efforts to find a settlement for the Cyprus problem.
Speaking to the 24th Cyprus International Trade Fair, the President also called on the international community to exercise effective influence on the Turkish Cypriots to negotiate seriously and to participate in European Union accession negotiations.
The President said, "this time a greater effort needs to be made in this direction (for effective influence on the Turkish side to find the political will) because of the new correlation of political forces which has resulted from the recent elections in Turkey."
Outlining future developments in the Balkans, he said these will project Greece even more as a major stabilizing factor in the Balkans, resulting in the upgrading of its role in the region. "I believe this upgrading, by extension, will affect more positively the course of the Cyprus problem," he said.
Referring to Kosovo, he noted with satisfaction that the philosophy and the principles of the emerging solution coincide with Cyprus's position. From the outset, he said, Cyprus has called for a solution to the Kosovo crisis through peaceful means, based on the principles of respect for human rights, autonomy for Kosovo within Yugoslavia, the return of the refugees and the stationing of a multiethnic force with a U.N. mandate.
"If these positions are implemented," he said, "they will constitute a good precedent which will strengthen our positions as regards the Cyprus problem."
The President reiterated his conviction that the Cyprus problem must be solved through peaceful means within the framework of the United Nations resolutions and Cyprus's accession to the European Union (EU). He again called on Turkish Cypriots to join forces with Greek Cypriots in the EU negotiations, and added "once they accept our European course, finding ways for us to cooperate in the framework of the negotiations already taking place will not be a problem."
The President said the Greek and Turkish Cypriots have
a duty to themselves and future generations as well as
the international community to "exhaust all possibilities
On May 20, the Turkish Cypriot daily Avrupa criticized the destruction and desecration of churches in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. The churches, it said, should either be "protected or they should be completely destroyed so that the Turkish Cypriots are not internationally portrayed as vandals."
The article appeared after photographs showing the desecrated interior of a church and a second church which had been turned into a stable, and the destruction of two Greek Cypriot cemeteries was also mentioned in the paper.
The Avrupa piece points out that if Greek Cypriots
treated mosques in this manner Turkish Cypriots would
"have immediately reacted and said they are trying to
eradicate anything Turkish from Cyprus."
During the first week of June a team of international experts belonging to "Physicians for Human Rights" began the process of exhuming and identifying the remains of those who perished during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
The team, which includes anthropologists, archaeologists and pathologists, is led by Professor William Haglund. The work will take place in two cemeteries, Ayios Constantinos and Eleni Cemetery in Nicosia and the Military Cemetery in Lakatamia.
This project is made possible by the advent of DNA-aided identification which has revolutionized forensics works. In fact, the remains of Andreas Kassapis, a missing American, were identified by this technique in early 1998.
The official Cyprus government announcement of the
undertaking pointed out that this effort did not "relate
to the agreement of 31 July 1997 on the missing and
exhumations provided by the said agreement" between
President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf
Denktash. But it hoped that, this "procedure will
contribute to creating the appropriate climate so that
the Turkish side will take the necessary decisions to
implement the humanitarian provisions of the July
President Clerides made an official visit to China June 6-11 during which he met with Chinese officials including President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Zhu Rongji.
During the visit, China reaffirmed its commitment to a
peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem in accordance
with relevant U.N. resolutions. Prime Minister Zhu hailed
Cyprus-China relations as "balanced." Other matters of
mutual interest were discussed including trade, the need
for reform and enlargement of the U.N. Security Council
and the crisis in Yugoslavia.
A series of seminars sponsored by the Central Bank of Cyprus on "Cyprus: An International Business Center," will be held in San Francisco on June 24, in San Diego on June 25, Washington, D.C. on June 29 and in New York on June 30. For more information contact the American Hellenic Institute, (202) 785-8430.
The Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CYTA) announced May 20 the introduction of automatic service through the "Iridium" mobile satellite system. CYTA subscribers can now communicate with Iridium subscribers anywhere in the world. Iridium is the first, and at present the only, system of worldwide personal communication via satellite. The required handsets will be available in Cyprus before the end of the year.
A new company, "Iris Gateway Satellite Services Ltd." has been set up to provide satellite turnaround and fiber connectivity facilities between Asia and Europe. A joint-venture between CYTA and Merlin Communications Int. will provide a high-quality ground link between Asian and European satellites and communications systems, with CYTA operating the ground station and Merlin performing sales and marketing functions.
On May 25, Finance Minister Takis Clerides inaugurated the electronic trading system for the Cyprus Stock exchange (CSE) which will help deal with the demands of modern capital markets. "It is a substantial step forward which the government welcomes," he said --a step toward making Cyprus a regional business hub.
A new international banking unit, DePfa Investment Bank Ltd, has opened in Nicosia. DePfa Investment Bank was recently established in Cyprus by Germany's largest public sector bank, DePfa Deutsche Pfandbrief Bank AG.
On May 27, the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers called on Turkey to appear before it and explain why it has not complied with a European Court decision to compensate Titina Loizidou for denying her access to her property in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.
On June 8, the U.N. General Assembly approved the allocation of $45.6 million to finance the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for the period July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2000.The government of Cyprus con- tributes one-third of the total cost.
On May 27,the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign of Great Britain announced its award of a research grant to the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics. The grant, worth some $160,000, will last for three years. This is the first grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign outside the U.K. this year.
Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Costas Themistocleous announced on May 26 that the government's desalination program would be completed in about 18 months at which time current water restriction measures will be lifted.
On May 20, the Cyprus Council of Ministers approved the signing of the "2nd Additional Protocol of the Hague Convention (1954) for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in case of armed confrontation." Much of Cyprus's cultural heritage has been destroyed since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
On May 7, Cyprus signed the sixth protocol of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights of the Council of Europe. The protocol, which provides for abolition of the death penalty, was signed by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides during the Budapest meeting of the Council of Europe's Committee of Foreign Ministers.
In mid-May, the Cyprus government decided to align itself with additional measures the EU intends to implement against Yugoslavia. Government Spokesman Costas Serezis announced that, "The government decided to align itself, as far as possible, with the new measures the EU has decided to enforce."
The EU measures relate to a ban on the entry into EU member states of some 300 Yugoslav politicians, military officers, journalists, bankers and members of Slobodon Milosevic's family.
They also refer to a ban on commercial and private flights between Yugoslavia and EU airports, a freeze on funds held by Yugoslav and Serbian officials to cover individuals close to Milosevic, as well as Yugoslav and Serbian-controlled companies and a ban on providing private sector export finance to Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile on May 18, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides addressed the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm. His speech, entitled "Cyprus on the Way to European Union Membership" outlined Cyprus's accession process and the reasons Cyprus sought EU membership. As to what Cyprus will bring to the EU, Kasoulides said, "Cyprus . . . will be transformed into Europe's contact point with the troubled but extremely important region of the Middle East. Cyprus feels confident that as a full member the EU, it will contribute to the stability and welfare of the big European family.
The Foreign Minister also traveled to the Netherlands and Denmark in late May for talks on Cyprus's accession course. At the conclusion of his trip he expressed the hope that,"in the mean- time, the right messages will be sent to Turkey, which must regard Cyprus's accession as inevitable."
At the conclusion of its Cologne Summit on June 4, the European Council welcomed "the positive results of the second round of substantive negotiations in the first half of 1999 with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia on a number of important and complex areas." The Council also pledged to "open negotiations in all areas covered as early as possible next year."
More Chapters Discussed
With regard to Cyprus specifically, on May 19, the third round of accession talks with the EU in areas concerning health and consumer protection, external relations and the Customs Union were concluded in Brussels. The Customs Union chapter is considered important, in view of the reservations Britain, France and the Netherlands had previously raised.
In addition, on May 27, Cyprus's Council of Ministers
approved government positions on another four chapters of
the EU acquis communautaire, which were submitted to
Brussels the following week. The four chapters deal with
the free movement of capital, economic and monetary
union, social policy and energy.
Science and Research
Meanwhile, the committee of senior officials of the
European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and
Technical Research (COST) approved Cyprus along with
Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia as full members on May 28.
COST is a framework through which EU member-states
cooperate with third states on issues of research and
technology. In addition, on May 20, Cyprus signed the
protocol to the Association Agreement entitling its
participation in the 5th framework Program for Research,
Technological Development and Demonstration.
In addition, the Third All Trade Union Forum met in Nicosia in late May, with participation of 17 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot trade unions. Their declaration stated that a future federal Cyprus needed to have a unitary economy with "one type of system of employment and labor relations, a unitary system of social insurance, unified standards of wages and salaries, the right of freedom of movement, freedom of association and choice of employer in any part of Cyprus, and no discrimination whatsoever in respect of employment or emoluments, due to ethnic origin, religion, color or sex." These objectives they stated "assume renewed significance in view of the accession process" which is "a necessary prerequisite for harmonization with the basic principles and practice applying in the EU."
The trade unionists' declaration also called for "unobstructed and free movement" of trade union members to carry out trade union activities and called on the "political leaders of Cyprus, international and regional trade unions, the U.N., the EU and other international organizations, as well as on all parties involved in the effort to facilitate a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem, to work for the obtainment of the above objectives."