Embassy Newsletter Washington, DC September1999
U.S. Diplomatic Team Promises to "Do All That it Can"
President Glafcos Clerides will travel to New York Sept. 17 to address the United Nations 54th General Assembly on Sept. 23., and meet with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, amid hopes that a renewed effort will be made to restart negotiations to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1250 requests that the Secretary General invite the leaders of the two Cypriot sides to negotiations in the autumn of 1999. It calls upon the leaders to give their "full support to such a comprehensive negotiation, under the auspices of the Secretary General" and to commit themselves to unconditional talks, with all issues on the table and full consideration of relevant United Nations resolutions and treaties. The Group of Eight (G-8) major powers has also endorsed the effort and called for talks.
Annan met with Turkish Cypriot leader Raul Denktash in early September. President Clerides has long called for a renewal of the intercommunal talks without preconditions, but Denktash has refused, while demanding inter- national recognition of the illegal entity in occupied Cyprus, which no country save Turkey recognizes.
Consultations will also take place on finding a successor for the U.N.'s Special Representative for Cyprus, Dame Ann Hercus who is leaving her post at the end of September.
U.N.-led efforts in the past 25 years to reach a negotiated settlement in Cyprus have yielded no results due to unacceptable demands by the Turkish side contrary to U.N. proposals.
While in New York Clerides will also have a series of meetings with U.S. officials.
Meanwhile, new U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler restated the U.S. government's resolve on the issue, when presenting his credentials to Clerides Aug.23. After their meeting he said, "I would like to reaffirm that achieving a just and durable resolution of the Cyprus problem remains one of President Clinton's and Secretary Albright's major foreign policy priorities."
"The United States remains determined to encourage a Cyprus settlement that establishes a stable bizonal, bicommunal federation with adequate security guarantees for all," adding, the U.S. "will do all that it can," to reach a settlement.
Receiving the credentials, President Clerides stressed that he expects the international community and especially the U.S. to exert the necessary influence on Turkey so that it will negotiate a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.
"We recognize the commitment of President Clinton to contribute effectively, in the remaining part of his mandate, to the finding of an acceptable and just solution which will end the division of the island and promote peace and stability in the region," he said.
President Clerides said his government is ready to participate in negotiations within the parameters contained in the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, but stressed that he will not accept the preconditions demanded by the Turkish side, nor accept the legalization of the destructive invasion and occupation of Cyprus by Turkish forces.
"Cyprus's accession to the European Union opens a window of opportunity which can have catalytic effects on the efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem for the benefit and well-being of both communities on the island," the President concluded.
After meeting with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Bandler said, "We are off to a good start. I know that President Clinton and the whole government is determined to lend active assistance to the parties to the dispute in Cyprus and to try to bring about a durable and a just solution to the problem."
"Moreover, we place a lot of weight and value on our relationship with Cyprus, there are a lot of human connections between Cyprus and the U.S., we share the same basic values and I will be trying during my time here in Cyprus to build upon that relationship and make it even more positive." the U.S. Ambassador added.
On Aug. 19 President Clinton submitted to Congress his periodic report on progress on the Cyprus question. "My administration will continue efforts to bring about a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation" the President wrote.
The diplomatic team on the ground is taking shape as Thomas Weston, the new Special Coordinator for Cyprus met with President Clerides Sept. 6, and the new Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus replacing Holbrooke was named Sept. 3. He is Alfred H. Moses, a former U.S. Ambassador to Romania.
Meanwhile after meeting with President Clerides in Nicosia, two U.S. Congressmen, Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) said that Ankara's intransigence is unacceptable to Congress.
Noting that 25 years of occupation is too much, Congressman Menendez said, "Efforts must be made to bring an end to the division and occupation of Cyprus, seek a reunited government, a federation deriving its powers from the central government and ultimately in many ways try to seek the very same goals that the United States sought in Kosovo, where there are so many similarities."
Ambassador Bandler "has very clear instructions directly from the President about what he wants to see in the rest of his term as President in terms of a Cyprus solution," the two said.
Also, 11 members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee have sent letters to Secretary of State Albright, and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, requesting him to urge the Turkish military to help bring about a solution to the Cyprus problem.
They said there is strong support in the Committee "for the administration increasing its efforts, particularly with the Turkish military, to achieve an overall military and political settlement." Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit is expected to ask President Clinton in a meeting later this month to forgive some of Turkey's $6 billion military debt. But given the Committee's position, that could prove difficult. Turkey's Foreign Minister was recently quoted in Defense News as saying, "We are not happy with the U.S. attitude on Cyprus and we won't yield to possible U.S. pressure on Cyprus."
"We expect [Kofi] Annan to reach a decision as to whether he will call for talks, and when these will take place." --Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who will also be in New York
On Aug. 17 a massive earthquake devastated Turkey leaving as many as 15,000 dead and injuring 25,000. On Sept. 7, another earthquake hit the Athens area in Greece killing over a hundred people. The response by both sides to the humanitarian crises, has "created a new climate," in the words of Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
The President also noted that "The Cyprus government has also informed the International Red Cross it is ready to send through the organization medical assistance."
On Aug. 25 Cyprus's cabinet approved a Health Ministry proposal to send Turkey $100,000 in aid. Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides explained that the assistance "in medicine or other items considered necessary," would be sent, and that "one forensic expert, two general surgeons, two nurses and a civil engineer from Cyprus were on their way to Turkey to offer help, on a voluntary basis."
The private sector also offered assistance. A three-member medical team from the Cypriot branch of Doctors of the World traveled to Turkey. In addition, the Union of Cyprus Journalists (UCJ) sent condolences to the Turkish Progressive Association of Journalists and to the Journalists Syndicate in Turkey and promised financial assistance to victims of the quake. Greece also sent emergency aid to Turkey.
And, immediately after the Athens earthquake, President Clerides telephoned Prime Minister Costas Simitis and told him that all state services were at his disposal, a team of disaster-relief experts were on their way and the government had approved $1 million in emergency aid. The Turkish government also offered any assistance possible.
Speaking at a conference in Finland, Minister Papandreou said, "Human warmth came out of this tragedy . . . A message came out that we should work for peace." He said that the compassionate responses by both sides could lead to closer ties with the EU and Turkey.
He added that he had spoken to Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and told him that Greece would no longer oppose closer integration of Turkey into Europe. In addition, Greece would not block the EU grants and loans to help Turkey rebuild after the tragedy.
The 11th World Conference on Overseas Cypriots met between August 22-26 in Nicosia. The delegates were briefed on the status of the Cyprus issue by Foreign Minister Kasoulides. At the end of the conference, the delegates called on world leaders to show the same sensitivity in the case of Cyprus as they have in Kosovo, help curb Turkish intransigence and pave the way for a Cyprus settlement.
Newly appointed U.S. permanent representative to the U.N., and outgoing emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke made clear where he places the blame for the current impasse. Speaking by phone to the conference, Holbrooke said the Turkish side has "caused so many problems and has been so intransigent," while reiterating that "the U.S. and our friends will not change our support for a bizonal, bicommunal federation."
White House Chief of Staff John Podesta also assured the delegates that "President Clinton will be personally engaged in the Cyprus issue," and said "we are working hard on this problem."
On August 19, Cyprus signed the Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The protocol is of particular importance to Cyprus as its cultural heritage in the areas occupied by Turkey is being systematically destroyed and looted.
After an eight-year legal battle Cyprus has won exclusive rights to the Halloumi cheese certification mark in the U.S. The United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board struck down a Danish challenge in mid-August identifying Cyprus as "the source of Halloumi cheese."
Retail sales of Halloumi in the United States alone exceed $5 million annually and the decision paves the way for the introduction of other Cypriot cheeses.
On Aug. 30, the government reported that Cyprus's merchant fleet ranks 6th in the world with more than 2,600 ship of gross tonnage exceeding 26 million being registered by the end of March.
On Aug. 31, Minister of Labor and Social Insurance Andreas Moushouttas announced that Cyprus's unemployment rate in the first six months of the year was 3.6 percent.
According to a report from the Department of Statistics and Research published in early August, nearly one in every four citizens in Cyprus were studying on a full-time basis during the 1997-1998 academic year. During the same period 168,800 pupils were attending Cyprus's 1,208 educational institutions. In addition, another 10,800 students were studying abroad.
On Aug.19, a vessel which operates the "Mediterranean Peace Cruise" arrived in Cyprus. The event is aimed at promoting cooperation and brotherhood among the youth of Mediterranean countries.
On Aug. 26, the Overseas Cypriots announced their intention to set up a world bone marrow-donor-bank in order to facilitate worldwide efforts to find donors for Cypriots in need of bone marrow- transplants.
In early September, the government asked the EU for one million Euro for the restoration of the Halka Sultan Tekke, one of the Muslim monuments in Larnaca.
On Sept. 1, Antonios Malaos became director of the European Institute in Cyprus which promotes EU issues in relation to Cyprus.
Both major banks in Cyprus--the Cyprus Popular Bank and the Bank of Cyprus--recorded significant increases in operating profits in the first six months of this year.
In mid-August the European Commission strongly reiterated its full support for the initiative launched by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and by the G-8 to restart talks on the Cyprus problem which were suspended in August 1997.
The Commissioners Designate for Enlargement, Guenther Verheugen, and for Foreign Affairs, Chris Patten, replied to questions from the European Parliament by saying, "the Com- mission, together with the member-states and other parties involved, will try to persuade Turkey to participate in this initiative."
With regard to the accession of Cyprus to the EU prior to a settlement of the Cyprus issue the Ministers expressed the hope that recent efforts within the framework of the United Nations and the ongoing accession negotiations will reinforce each other and create conditions under which "the accession of Cyprus should benefit all communities."
They also reiterated that the EU negotiations with Cyprus should continue normally but that the Turkish Cypriot community should be called on again to accept President Clerides's invitation to take part in these negotiations.
"In addition," they wrote, "we should continue to finance bicommunity projects and so support the initiatives of Cypriot civil society to reestablish dialogue."
In November a program for the rapprochement of the two com- munities will be presented to the MED Committee which would establish a liaison office in Brussels where Greek and Turkish Cypriots could work together on areas of common interest, such as Cyprus's accession to the EU.
On Sept. 2, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook met with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in London. Speaking after the meeting, Cook said that the two had had a "useful and fruitful exchange of views on the situation in Cyprus."
The Secretary further noted, "We both hope that these recent initiatives will create an environment in which we can take forward a mutually acceptable solution to the division of the island." In addition, he expressed the hope that this will "enable both Turkey and Cyprus to proceed with their aspirations as candidates for membership in the European Union."
A report by the Commission of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, made public in early September, finds Turkey guilty of gross violations of human rights in Cyprus. [The complete report is available on the Internet at http://www.dhcour.coe.fr]
While upholding the legitimacy of the Republic of Cyprus government, the Commission placed responsibility on Turkey for all human rights violations in the occupied areas.
The Commission also reaffirmed three earlier rulings against Turkey and the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Titina Loizidou. The "report is of truly historic significance" said Attorney General Alecos Markides because it upholds the "first three inter-state cases" and the Court decision in the Loizidou case.
With regard to missing persons, the Commission was of the opinion that there can be no time limitation regarding the duty to investigate and inform on the fate of the missing. And, that the absence of an investigation constitutes continuous violation of the right to freedom and safety.
The commission also concluded unanimously that there has been continuing refusal by Turkey to allow Greek Cypriot property owners access to their homes in the occupied areas. It further concluded that such violations of property rights was not warranted by the search for a Cyprus settlement.
The Commission also observed that the living conditions for enclaved Greek Cypriots were adverse. There is, they reported, an absence of normal means of communication, access to the Greek Cypriot press, restrictions on education, religion, and inheritance and an aggravated interference with their right to respect for their private and family life and for their home.
The report adds that the treatment of enclaved people is tantamount to adverse discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin, race and religion.