Kypros-Net: Cyprus' Embassy News Letter - February 2000


CONTENTS

  1. A Third Round of Talks Will  Be Held in New York in May
  2. Face-To-Face Meetings Possible
  3. Clerides's Written Statement
  4. U.S. Players
  5. "External" Factors
  6. Hope For A Durable Peace
  7. Breakout Box
  8. Breakout Box
  9. Up, Investment Rules Eased
  10. Did You Know?
  11. U.S. Human Rights Groups    Take A Stand on Cyprus
  12. Water Shortage Experts 
  13. More Cases For the European
  14. Restoration of Religious Sites
  15. Cyprus & the EU
  16. Book Note

  1. A Third Round of Talks Will  Be Held in New York in May

    U.N. Envoy Says Process "On Track," Will Visit Next Month

    The second round of U.N.-sponsored proximity talks for the reunification of Cyprus ended in Geneva on Feb. 8, and a third round has been scheduled for New York on May 23.

    In making his announcement, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, said "the two sides have accepted in principle to continue the [proximity] talks in New York on May 23" adding that "the talks are on track." De Soto said the possibility of direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will be left for later consideration.

    The two parties explored "in greater depth the range of issues that are before them," de Soto said. He added that the current stage of the process aims to "prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement."

    There are "factors, external to Cyprus such as improved relations between Turkey and Greece which give grounds for hope," the U.N. official said, referring to a recent thaw in Greek-Turkish relations and Turkey's aspirations to join the European Union (EU).

    Entry to the Union would require Ankara to pursue a more positive policy on Cyprus, where it illegally maintains 37,000 troops, following its forcible seizure of a third of the island in 1974, and its role as sole benefactor of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus headed by Denktash.

    De Soto also said that he will visit Cyprus next month to be briefed by officials of the U.N. peacekeeping force. "I have a lot of learning to do on the ground," he said, noting, however, that he is not traveling to Cyprus "to continue the talks." De Soto further added that he will report to Annan on the second round. The Security Council will also be briefed on Feb. 15.

    The format for the third round will remain the same, with U.N. officials meeting separately with each side on the four core issues of security, territory, separation of powers and property outlined by Annan.

  2.  
  3. Face-To-Face Meetings Possible

    On direct talks, Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said in Geneva, "I would not rule out a face-to-face meeting between the two leaders during the third round of talks . . . direct negotiations will begin when Alvaro de Soto believes the time is ripe for such negotiations and this will not be decided in advance."

    The second round was marred by public statements by Denktash repeating hardline positions and misrepresenting the nature of the talks, despite Annan's request for a strict news blackout.

    The Cyprus government, the U.S., the U.N., the EU and the Group of Eight (G-8) all reject any proposed framework contrary to U.N. resolutions stipulating that a bizonal, bicommunal federation be the basis of any settlement.

  4.  
  5. Clerides's Written Statement

    President Clerides was compelled to respond on Feb. 2. In a written statement outlining his adherence to relevant U.N. resolutions, he said, "The object of the negotiations," is to reach a settlement "based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal communities . . . on a bicommunal and bizonal federation."

    A settlement, he said, "must exclude union . . . with any other country or any form of partition or secession . . . confederation is excluded and cannot be accepted. . . . I wish to make it absolutely clear that as far as we are concerned the question of sovereignty is not a negotiable issue."

    As for Denktash's remarks that Cyprus must "accept the realities of the situation," the President responded: "The Greek Cypriot side would never recognize the reality of the Turkish aggression and occupation of the territory of the Republic, the ethnic cleansing . . . by Turkish forces of the Greek Cypriots living in the north, which resulted in one-third of the population being refugees in their own country, the importation of illegal settlers . . . who have been installed in Greek properties, and the change of the demographic character . . . contrary to the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions."

    He concluded, "The Greek side is ready to negotiate a settlement within the parameters established by Security Council resolutions."

    Upon his return from Geneva on Feb. 9, Clerides reiterated, "We are working on a solution which will be based on a bizonal federation, will safeguard human rights, secure the acquis communautaire [of the EU] and that the issue of sovereignty will not be negotiable."

  6.  
  7. U.S. Players

    U.S. Presidential Emissary Alfred Moses, State Department Coordinator Thomas Weston and U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler were in Geneva to lend diplomatic support to the process. De Soto said emissaries from the U.S. and other nations collaborate with the U.N. Secretary General in a variety of ways including, "intellectual input, advice and sometimes diplomatic assistance."

    And, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 8, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reiterated the U.S. "diplomatic backing of U.N.-based talks on Cyprus." Earlier, on Jan. 12, Assistant Secretary of State Marc Grossman stated that in these talks, "Our goal is clear--bizonal, bicommunal, federated."

  8.  
  9. "External" Factors

    De Soto's reference to "external" factors got a boost with the Feb. 3 arrival in Athens of Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, returning Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou's trip to Turkey in January. While the two signed five cooperation agreements, the Greek Minister noted that Cyprus is at the core of their difficulties. "In Greece we are still living under the shadow of a national tragedy, that of Cyprus. The invasion and division of the island have resulted in poisoning our relations for a whole generation," he said.

    Cem said that on Cyprus it "is obvious we still have differences of opinion . . . But if we had been slaves to our differences we wouldn't have been able to make it here today."

    And on the Cem visit, Minister Kasoulides said: "It has been made abundantly clear to Mr. Cem that the improvement in Greco-Turkish ties cannot have any meaning unless there is parallel progress in the Cyprus question," and that will only become clear when the third round of talks begins.

    Meanwhile on Feb. 7, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the aim was for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem and reiterated Greece's position that Cyprus should have a "unified state status, with a bizonal and bicommunal federal state structure."

  10.  
  11. Hope For A Durable Peace

    Earlier, in a Feb. 2 speech in Athens, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering summed up the U.S. position: "We are heartened that Greece and Turkey have made tremendous progress over the past year . . . A durable peace in the Aegean and in Cyprus, based on respect for international law and safeguarding democratic rights, will be a powerful force for regional stability and development."

  12.  
  13. Breakout Box

    "We should be proud of America's role in promoting reconciliation between Greece and Turkey and in Cyprus."

    U.S. President Bill Clinton, State of the Union Address, Jan. 28

  14.  
  15. Breakout Box

    "And while Greece ended its long-standing opposition to Turkish membership in the EU, it seems inconceivable that Turkey would be admitted to the EU while maintaining an army of occupation in Cyprus's northern third."

    Providence Journal, Feb. 2

    Budget Approved, Growth

  16.  
  17. Up, Investment Rules Eased

    Following a three-day debate, parliament approved the budget with slight cuts for fiscal 2000 on Feb. 5, which sets expenditures at some $3.4 billion on net income of about $2.3 billion.

    In the past the state budgets were divided into three, the Ordinary Budget, the Development Budget and the Relief Fund for Displaced and Afflicted Persons. Measures were included this year to take into account any negative effects on various income groups resulting from Cyprus's harmonization with European Union rules.

    Growth. During the debate, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said that the economy in 2000 is expected to grow in the 4.5 percent range for the second consecutive year. Klerides said unemployment has been held to 3.6 percent and inflation to 1.7 percent.

    Investment. Meanwhile, the Central Bank has lifted restrictions on European Union residents investing in Cypriot companies as part of the EU harmonization process. Formerly those investments were restricted to 49 percent, and a huge new flow of investment into the country is expected. Restrictions on Cypriot nationals investing abroad have also been lifted, but only for direct investment in foreign firms, with portfolio investments still restricted.

    Tourism. Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis has announced that more than 2.4 million tourists visited the island in 1999, up 9.5 percent over 1998, and that an increase of 8 percent is expected this year. Revenues from tourism reached some $1.7 billion last year, an increase of 16.4 percent. One out of seven Cypriots is currently employed in the tourism industry, the country's second largest sector, providing more than 20 percent of GDP.

  18.  
  19. Did You Know?

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment announced on Jan. 30 that Cyprus would spend over $1,200 million on environmental projects over the next decade.

    The annual conference of the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus will be held May 16-18 in Washington, D.C.

    House President Spyros Kyprianou, who underwent major heart surgery on Jan. 20 at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States, was discharged from the hospital on Jan. 28. He returned to Cyprus in early February.

    In January, Cyprus ratified the sixth protocol for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which calls for the abolition of the death penalty. It came into effect on Feb.1.

    On Jan. 19, Cyprus submitted the document for the ratification of the Council of Europe agreement on illicit drug traffic by sea, thus implementing Article 17 of the U.N. Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

    On Jan. 26 Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis accepted relief assistance worth over $1 million for earthquake victims. Cypriot Ministers of Finance and Education and Culture, Takis Klerides and Ouranios Ionnides, presented the funds.

    On Jan 24 two members of Cyprus's House of Representatives were elected as vice presidents of two of the committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)--Takis Hadjidemetriou for the Committee of Agriculture and Rural Development and Doros Christodoulides for the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.

  20.  
  21. U.S. Human Rights Groups    Take A Stand on Cyprus

    Twenty prominent human rights organizations in the United States expressed their support for a Cyprus "settlement along the lines presented in United Nations resolutions and supported by the United States and other nations."

    The groups sent a letter to President Clinton as the second round of Cyprus settlement talks continued in Geneva stating that they supported a "settlement which unites the last divided capital city and nation in Europe [and] will enable both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to enjoy human rights realized by citizens of other democracies around the world."

  22.  
  23. Water Shortage Experts 

    On Jan. 21, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Costas Themistocleous and U.S. Ambassador Donald Bandler announced that U.S. water experts would visit Cyprus to work with experts in both the Greek and Turkish communities.

    Noting that the long-standing shortage of water plagued both communities equally, Themistocleous expressed the government's readiness to contribute in promoting bicommunal efforts to solve the problem.

  24.  
  25. More Cases For the European

    Court of Human Rights

    Three new applications have been filed with the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe by Cypriot-born citizens of the U.K., the U.S. and Australia. All three nations claim violations by Turkey of their right to peacefully enjoy their property since the 1974 invasion. The Turkish army constructed a military airport on the properties involved in 1986.

    The applications rely on the principles propounded by the 1996 judgment of the Court in the Titina Loizidou case which holds Turkey responsible for human rights violations in the area under its military control.

    Turkey has been ordered to pay more than $800,000 to Loizidou for human rights violations and to allow her access to her property. Turkey has yet to comply with the judgment.

  26.  
  27. Restoration of Religious Sites

    On Jan. 17, the United Nations announced an agreement to proceed with a project to restore the Apostolos Andreas Monastery in the Turkish- occupied areas of the island and repair the Hala Sultan Mosque in Larnaca.

    Most of the funds for the project are provided by the United States through the United Nations Development Program. The U.S. State Department welcomed the agreement as a "constructive step forward on Cyprus."

    The Monastery, located at a hazardous site on the edge of a cliff, is in need of major structural repair due to neglect. The Mosque, however, has been regularly maintained by the Cyprus Antiquities Department, but work is needed on the surrounding grounds and gardens.

  28.  
  29. Cyprus & the EU

    Negotiations Unhindered

    In late January a 12-member delegation from the European Commission's Accession Negotiations Team for Cyprus, led by negotiator Leopold Maurer, visited Nicosia in order to prepare the chapters of the acquis communautaire to be opened for negotiation under the current Portuguese presidency, and to record the progress achieved to date toward harmonization with the EU.

    The chapters addressed included competition policy, regional policy, fisheries, justice and home affairs, information society, free movement of workers and agriculture. During the Portuguese presidency, it is expected that a number of chapters will be closed and all problems with regard to negotiations will have been put on the table.

    During his visit, Maurer commented positively on the work done by Cypriot authorities, but added that on certain areas, such as telecommunications, more work was still needed. Another area is the need for Cyprus to change its taxation system and increase its value-added tax (VAT). That process, Maurer said, would likely be a long and painful one.

    Efforts for a meeting between the EU officials and Turkish Cypriots were rejected by the Turkish side, although Maurer underlined the importance of informing Turkish Cypriots about Cyprus's accession course. "We have to see how we could involve the Turkish Cypriots in the negotiations," Maurer said. President Clerides has repeatedly invited the Turkish Cypriots to join in the negotiations.

    Referring to the proximity talks, Maurer said that they should be in conformity with the EU rules and regulations and noted that talks and Cyprus's accession negotiations run on parallel tracks.

    With regard to the participation of the Turkish Cypriots in EU negotiations, Maurer said that the EU holds negotiations with the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots have been invited to join the Cypriot negotiating team. "It is not possible for Brussels to have two different voices from the same country," he said.

    He also welcomed the Website of the Cyprus-EU negotiating team in Turkish to enable Turkish Cypriots to become informed about EU matters. (www.cyprus-eu.org.cy)

    Meanwhile on Feb. 4, Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, indicated his support for more active involvement of the EU in efforts to reach a Cyprus solution. He pointed out that "Cyprus will join the EU and, consequently the EU should intensify its efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus issue."

    On Jan. 25, the European Commissioner responsible for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, announced that Cyprus's accession course will continue unhindered irrespective of a solution to its political problem. Speaking after a meeting with Greek Foreign Affairs Minister George Papandreou, Verheugen reaffirmed that all moves will be based on the conclusion of the EU Helsinki Summit.

    Verheugen also said that the EU would offer financial support for Cyprus's harmonization with the acquis communautaire and for funding of non-governmental organizations' programs seeking rapprochement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

    Referring to the progress report on Cyprus's accession course, he expressed satisfaction with the progress so far. Cyprus has concluded negotiations on more chapters than any other candidate country, he said.

    The Commissioner also announced his intention to visit Cyprus in March.

  30.  
  31. Book Note

    A new book on Cyprus's cultural heritage, edited by John A. Koumoulides, has just been published. It is entitled, Cyprus: The Legacy; Historic Landmarks that Influenced the Art of Cyprus. The book was published in 1999 by the University Press of Maryland.

    Cyprus is a land with a varied cultural heritage as the book's jacket explains: "To visit Cyprus is to visit a very rich and dense intersection of culture and history. This book presents glimpses of that culture, through its history, art and architecture."

    Excavation at Neolithic Site

    In January, the Department of Antiquities announced the completion of the 1999 excavations of the French Mission at the Neolithic settlement of Parakkleshia-Shillourokambos under the direction of Professor Jean Guillaine.

    The year's work yielded new skeletal material dating from the 8th M.C. The circular huts used for domestic purposes were also investigated.

    The mouth of a well and numerous querns, pounders, stone tools and vessels, as well as several rare objects, such as a small schematized female anthropomorphic figurine, were found by the team.


 


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