Clinton To Go To Athens and Ankara, Will "Deal Directly" With Cyprus
Pledges to "Do All I Can" For Negotiations With No Preconditions
President Bill Clinton will pay state visits to Greece on Nov. 13-15 and thereafter to Turkey on Nov. 15-17. Prior to his departure, White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart said, "The President will deal directly with the situation in Cyprus on this trip. Its an important part of the agenda, an important part of the trip."
The President's two day stops in Athens and Ankara come as attempts by the U.S., the United Nations, the Group of Eight (G-8) and the European Union (EU) to resume comprehensive negotiations with no preconditions, have all been thwarted by Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. They are refusing to join any talks unless the illegal regime in Turkish-occupied Cyprus is recognized, and the government of Cyprus withdraws its application for EU membership.
Expectations that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan
would open talks last month came to nought when Denktash
and the Turkish government insisted on the unacceptable
precondition of recognition of the illegal regime. The
U.N. Security Council has condemned the seccessionist
entity which only Turkey recognizes and has declared it
"null and void." All relevant U.N. resolutions are
premised on a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal
single federal state.
Nonetheless, the administration remains determined to go ahead with its initiative on Cyprus. In a reply to a letter from the President of the Cyprus Federation of America, President Clinton said "I will continue to do all I can to encourage the beginning of negotiations and ensure they move toward a fair and successful conclusion."
The U.S., he added, continues to believe that "negotiations without preconditions between Cyprus President (Glafcos) Clerides and Mr. Denktash are the best way to move forward, and that a just and lasting settlement on the island can be reached."
The President noted the high caliber of his team dealing with the Cyprus question, who, he said, are working to bring the "Government of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriots" to the negotiating table this fall.
That team of Presidential Envoy Alfred Moses and State Department Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston recently completed stops in Ankara, Athens and Nicosia, and will brief the President prior to his upcoming trip to the region. State Department Spokesman James Foley has termed the Moses/Weston mission "productive" and "helpful."
In Ankara, Moses met with President Suleyman Demirel, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. His visit was a direct result of the Clinton-Ecevit meeting where he was tasked "to explore ways for moving forward a negotiated settlement." However, statements from Ankara following the visit of Moses there show no change in Turkey's positions.
In Athens, Moses said that the present situation is
"not acceptable" and that President Clinton's commitment
is to see an end to the 25-year old division of the
island with all Cypriots "living in peace and harmony
under one government."
Arriving in Nicosia on Oct. 18, the team met with President Clerides and Denktash, saying that "this is the best time to move forward for a number of reasons," citing improving Greek-Turkish relations and Turkey's aspirations to join the EU. The EU strongly backs a federal solution, and would like to see Ankara alter its position and withdraw its occupation forces from Cyprus.
"We are looking for a com- prehensive settlement, in-depth talks in accordance with U.N. resolutions and the statement earlier this year by the G-8 (strongly endorsing the U.N. position)," Moses said.
While failing to make any definitive progress during his two days of talks because of continued obstructionism on part of Denktash, Moses said upon his departure that the U.S. will press ahead. "Both sides have encouraged us to continue our efforts, both sides have repeated their commitment to try and find a solution on the island, this is an ongoing process, this is not a one-day or two-day undertaking."
Following the Moses/Weston trip State Department Spokesman Foley said that the emissaries clearly still have a lot of work ahead of them. After briefing President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Foley said the two envoys would look ahead "with a view to moving forward toward comprehensive negotiations."
Foley added that the U.S. government "will evaluate
the next steps on preparing the way for successful Cyprus
talks. Certainly, our commitment to a Cyprus solution
based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation remains very
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary William Cohen added his voice to the U.S. drive to break the current deadlock. In a recent letter to Congress, he wrote that, in regard to Cyprus, "I can assure you that we have made clear our view to the Turkish leadership, including the military leadership, that the Turkish side must drop its preconditions for talks and come to the negotiating table."
Cohen was responding to a letter from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, calling on him to pressure the Turkish government "to bring about a swift and equitable resolution to this decades-old issue."
In Nicosia, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou reiterated that the Greek Cypriot side remains ready to attend U.N.-sponsored talks, according to the relevant U.N. resolutions and the G8's call for unconditional talks on Cyprus this fall.
But he also said that should the U.S. initiative fail,
invitations from U.N. Secretary General Annan for
comprehensive negotiations in accordance with U.N.
Security Council Resolution 1250 should be sent. And if
Denktash again fails to respond positively, the Secretary
General should publicly apportion blame.
Prospects for the economy in 2000 are bright, Finance Minister Takis Klerides told the House Finance Committee on Oct. 22. The growth rate will be around 4 percent, unemployment 3 percent and inflation 1.7 percent, he said.
For 1999 growth will end up at 4.5 percent, investment at 0.4 percent, and outside demand for goods and services will rise by 5.3 percent--compared to a 1.8 percent drop last year. "In 1999 the services sector recorded the most economic growth, at 74.3 percent," he said. Among other economic news and developments:
The Budget. The Council of Ministers has approved the budget for 2000. For the first time in the Republic's history, the budget is unified with the separate budgets for state expenditure, development, refugee relief and defense merged into one.
Public spending is set at $4,074.616m, an increase of $548.34m or 17 percent over 1999, and revenue at $2,487.03m, $453.18m more than in 1999. This increase is due to $330m in defense spending. Development spending of $106m will be spent on roads, $40m on water development, $260m on airports, $36m on town and sewage planning, $36m on education, an additional $28m on the University of Cyprus, $6m on culture, $31m on agriculture, $29m on health, $28m for industry and $33 on government buildings.
Excellent Hub. Minister of Commerce and Industry Nicos Rolandis says Cyprus is already a well-developed European country with a strong economy. Speaking at a Conference of the Inter-continental Consultants (ICC), he said, "In recent years our strategic location coupled with the excellent political and economic relations with our neighbors, our well developed socio-economic infrastructure, excellent telecommunications, the sophisticated banking system, a wide range of high quality professional services and the favorable economic and business environment, have rendered Cyprus an ideal hub for business activities." Rolandis said that attracting foreign investment is among the primary objectives of Cyprus's development policy. He noted that foreign investors are now allowed greater participation in investment projects, and cited new incentives for the introduction of high technology into Cyprus.
Tourism. Minister Rolandis also announced that the number of tourists visiting Cyprus during Sept. 1999 marked an increase of 14.3 percent over the same month last year. Rolandis also said the number of tourists between Jan.-Sept. 1999 increased by 8.5 per cent over the same period last year.
Industrial Output. Increased local demand boosted
industrial output by 1.1 percent in 1998, according to
the Department of Statistics and Research. The greatest
contributions came in food, beverage and tobacco,
followed by textiles and clothing. The mining and
quarrying sector increased by 15.8 percent over the
previous year, with production of sand, gravel and road
aggregate accounting for most of the output.
On Oct. 6, Cyprus's Ambassador to the United States Erato Kozakou- Marcoullis presented her credentials as Ambassador to Brazil to its President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in Brasilia. Brazil's affairs in Cyprus are handled by its Embassy in Israel.
A demographic report for 1998 issued by the Department of Statistic and Research estimates the population in government- controlled areas of Cyprus at 663,300 at the end of 1998 recording an increase of 0.8 percent over the previous year. According to the demographic report, it is estimated that 68.9 percent of the population resides in urban areas.
At a meeting of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris on Oct. 30, Minister of Education and Culture Ouranios Ioannides noted that illiteracy in Cyprus has been eradicated. He said that attendance in both primary and secondary education is 100 percent while 60 percent continue beyond the secondary level.
In late October, the government's National Machinery for Women's Rights and the British Council organized a four-day workshop entitled "Election Campaign School." The purpose of the workshop, which was conducted by London-based Eyecatcher Associates/Shevolution, was to increase women's role in political and public life to achieve a 30 percent increase in women's participation by the year 2005 in line with U.N. goals.
The charity Radiomarathon organized to collect funds
for children with special needs took place on Nov. 1-2
and brought in funds of nearly $2.5 million. Nine-time
Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis attended the event, and
was received by President Clerides.
The Cyprus Veterans' Association awarded President Glafcos Clerides with a silver medal for his services in the British Air Force during World War II.
The President accepted the award with pride "because it comes from my comrades-in-arms who put their lives in danger and suffered much for humanity's freedom."
In July 1942 Clerides's plane was shot down, and because he delayed opening his parachute, his life was saved. Unfortunately, however, he was captured by the Nazis and remained a prisoner for three years.
At the ceremony the President told the audience that "We continue to struggle for justice for all the people of this island, based on the same principles and values and ideals for which the allies had fought."
President of the Veterans Association Andreas
Christofi, who presented the award, assured the President
that veterans were behind his efforts "for a settlement
in Cyprus based on U.N. resolutions."
Cyprus will host the 49th annual Miss Universe pageant in May 2000 at an estimated cost of about $5 million.
On Oct. 27, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis announced that the contest will take place at four o'clock in the morning local time in Nicosia and will be broadcast live by CBS to more than 100 countries to an estimated audience of 300 million. Eighteen representatives of the contest and CBS were visiting the country to select sites for use in publicity films.
Rolandis said that hosting the event was like a "homecoming of mythology, legend and history" since, according to myth, the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, was born off Cyprus's shores.
He added that Miss Turkey has been invited to join the
On Oct. 21, President Clerides stated that "Cyprus adopts and implements all international measures to fight crime, including assistance to the authorities of other countries."
The President was addressing the 4th Conference of
Specialized Services in the fight against corruption of
the Council of Europe in Nicosia. He added that Cyprus is
a signatory to the Council of Europe Criminal Law
Convention on corruption and "is currently in the process
of preparing the enabling legislation for its
In early November, the American and Cypriot leaders of scientific teams charged with exhuming and identifying remains of missing persons and war dead announced that the remains of one person listed as missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus had been identified by examination of DNA.
The remains are that of a 16-year old who is one of eight persons exhumed this summer from unmarked graves at two Nicosia cemeteries. This is only the second time the fate of a person listed as missing was established through DNA testing. The first was U.S. citizen Andreas Kasapis whose remains were found in the Turkish-occupied area.
The identifications were made through the efforts of
the DNA Identification Laboratory of the Cyprus Institute
of Neurology and Genetics and the Physicians for Human
Rights Forensic Team.
On Nov. 3 in New York, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan informed the Security Council of his intention to designate Peruvian diplomat Alvaro de Soto as the new Special Advisor on Cyprus.
De Soto has been Assistant Secretary General for
political affairs since January 1995.
The European Commission's report on Cyprus issued in mid-October considers Cyprus's progress to be positive and encouraging and concluded that Cyprus is ahead of the other candidate countries in its course for accession to the EU. It also notes that the Republic fulfills the Copenhagen political criteria and adds that the EU has repeatedly regretted the absence of the Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus's negotiating team. Since March 1998, President Clerides has repeatedly extended an invitation for the Turkish Cypriots to join in the negotiating team.
George Vassiliou, Cyprus's Chief Negotiator in the accession negotiations said that the report, "praises us where we did well and criticizes us where they think we should do better," noting that more work needs to be done.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou reacted in writing to the report by saying,"I want to express the government's satisfaction that Cyprus has been described as the country which is ahead of other countries and that it is ready for this [accession] procedure." He further noted that the report states that "pending issues can easily be overcome" which "proves that the target of Cyprus joining the EU in the next wave of enlargement is absolutely realistic and feasible."
Cyprus also has recently received renewed support from the governments of the U.K., Spain and others in Europe reiterating that the division of Cyprus should be no obstacle to its EU accession.
On Oct. 13 the European Commission also recommended that an additional six countries be considered for membership negotiations and proposed making Turkey an official candidate. The Commission recommended that Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia should begin full membership negotiations. These six nations have been preparing their bids while another six--Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia--have been holding formal accession negotiations since March 1998.
Although the Commission said that Turkey should be considered as a candidate country, it made clear that there was no question of opening negotiations at this stage. The proposals will be considered at the EU Summit in Helsinki in December.
Turkey's long-standing bid to join the EU has been given a cold shoulder because of its human rights record, territorial disputes with Greece, an EU member, and its continuing occupation of Cyprus. The EU, however, has been encouraged by a recent improvement in relations between Athens and Ankara.
In addition, as a result of a meeting of European leaders held in Tampere, Finland, on Oct. 15, the Cyprus government now believes that Greece will have a greater opportunity to successfully pursue policies which could help pave the way for a Cyprus settlement.
Spokesman Papapetrou pointed out that it is "evident
from the statements of various European leaders after the
Tampere meeting that the Cyprus problem is at the center
of the concerns of the EU in regard with Turkey's
In September, Cyprus informed the EU that it will be
ready to implement the acquis communautaire on the
environment by Jan. 1, 2003. Cyprus started substantive
accession negotiations in November 1998 and has completed
ten of the 31 chapters included in the harmonization
A short article in the October 1999 issue of the Cyprus Embassy Newsletter described a new book by Vassos Karagiorgis on the excavations at Salamis entitled Salamis of Cyprus--1952-1974.
On Oct. 20, the author delivered a lecture at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., co-sponsored by Cyprus's Ambassador to the United States Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis.
During the lecture, which was sold out, Karagiorgis--the former director of Cyprus's Department of Antiquities--described Cyprus's history. "The insular character of Cyprus and the fact that she had rich copper mines always conditioned her political, economic and cultural evolution. The island's first inhabitants crossed by small boats the narrow straights which separate her coasts from those of Asia Minor and the Syropalestine . . . and ever since Cypriots never ceased to have relations with their neighbors throughout the Mediterranean," he said. "Even today when the sea no longer plays the same role as before, the island of Cyprus has a new role to play, no longer as the limit which separates but the bridge which unites the enterprising world of Europe with the old wisdom of the Orient," he concluded.