- Resumption of Proximity Talks Is Set
for January 31 in Geneva
Twelve days of U.N.-sponsored proximity talks on
the Cyprus problem were adjourned in New York on Dec.
14, and it has been announced that a second round
will be held on Jan. 31. The Spokesman for Secretary
General Kofi Annan said the talks will be held at the
Palais de Nations in Geneva.
In the New York talks, The Secretary General and
his Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto met
separately with President Glafcos
Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader
Rauf Denktash, with both sides laying out
their positions on the four core issues--security,
territory, separation of powers and
property--identified by the Secretary General.
The completion of the first round and the
agreement of the two sides to keep talking won
widespread endorsement and raised hopes that the
climate may be shifting toward a concerted effort for
a comprehensive resolution to the division of the
island, dating from Turkey's 1974 invasion and its
continual occupation of more than a third of the
Upon his return home from New York on Dec. 16,
President Clerides refrained from commenting on the
substance of the talks, which were held under a
strict news blackout requested by Annan.
Clerides explained, however, that both the Greek
and Turkish Cypriot sides had set out their positions
on all issues, with neither side knowing what the
other had said. In the next phase, expected to last
about 10 days, Clerides said that according to the
Secretary General, both sides would be asked for
clarifications on the issues that they have already
Speaking at a press conference in New York
Annan said, "proximity talks on
Cyprus are adjourning today after 12 days during
which both parties have engaged very seriously with
the whole range of issues that divided them." He
expressed the hope that the new dynamic between
Turkey and the European Union (EU) and between Greece
and Turkey would facilitate the search for peace in
Annan was referring to the decision of the EU
summit in Helsinki Dec. 10-11 to grant Turkey
candidate status for membership--a development that
will necessitate a more flexible approach by Ankara
toward a Cyprus settlement.
As the New York talks ended, Foreign Minister
Ioannis Kasoulides was upbeat
saying, "The fact that the proximity talks
are continuing in January and have not collapsed is
an encouraging sign." He stressed this is an
"adjournment of talks" and not a stoppage, and that
the talks will continue "on the same basis as far as
the four core issues are concerned."
Kasoulides predicted that there will be no
deadlock in the next round, nor a major breakthrough,
as no agreement is anticipated to be concluded in
Geneva. That objective will be left to a later phase
of negotiations, he said.
"The Secretary General and his Special
Adviser will have the chance to examine in greater
detail the views of the two sides on the basic
aspects of the problem and try to establish the
points on which there is common ground,"
Kasoulides said. The third and potentially decisive
round of the talks is scheduled for the period after
"elections" are held in the Turkish occupied areas in
- Breakout Box
"The presence of Turkish occupation forces
must be eliminated to create a single national
government on Cyprus and clear the way in the EU for
Los Angeles Times, Dec. 17,
- EU Scrutiny
Kasoulides noted that many issues relating to
Cyprus and Turkey have now been placed under the
scrutiny of the EU, as both countries are now
candidates for accession, and called on Turkish
Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to go with the flow.
Kasoulides also said he doesn't expect Denktash to
abandon the talks. "Today's circumstances and
conjunctures, relating to the Helsinki summit and
Greco-Turkish relations, are such that enable us to
make every possible effort to seek a settlement in
Cyprus," he said.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that this is the
only way forward, even if it does not yet allow room
for great optimism. Turkey, Cyprus, Greece and the
EU, the Minister said, are all heading towards one
specific direction and he called on Denktash to
follow suit. "It is incompatible for Denktash to be
looking the other way,"he said.
Despite the encouraging developments, Ankara and
Denktash continued to take a hard line position,
contrary to the U.N. framework for a Cyprus
President Clerides, however, noted that a Security
Council Resolution passed Dec. 15 reaffirmed all of
the world body's previous resolutions on the Cyprus
question--all of which call for reunification in a
Clerides stressed that these resolutions all talk
of a single sovereignty, a single international
identity, and a single nationality. The new
resolution is a reply to Denktash's assertions that
the U.N. resolutions are not valid, the President
The Cyprus government welcomed a reference in the
UNFICYP resolution, extending the peacekeeping
mandate, calling on the parties "to assess and
address the humanitarian issue of missing persons
with urgency and seriousness."
Foreign Minister Kasoulides said "this rectifies a
very unfortunate omission in last June's resolution"
and urged the international community to help resolve
this humanitarian issue. "We have already started
unraveling the string as far as the fate of missing
persons are concerned and have acted in good faith.
More goodwill gestures will follow on our part."
- High White House Priority
Commenting on the proximity talks process the
White House said in a report on President Clinton's
leadership role on Nov. 29: "Brokering an
agreement for new peace talks settling the decades
long-conflict between our two allies, Turkey and
Greece, over the political status of Cyprus is a high
priority on the President's foreign policy
Noting that "tireless mediation, and
President Clinton's personal involvement bore
fruit," the report says that "there
is new hope for peace in Cyprus." Clinton
discussed the Cyprus issue with the leaders of Greece
and Turkey in November. He has often described the
status quo in Cyprus as "unacceptable."
"As we look forward to the New Year and the
continued talks process, I have confidence that
Cyprus will join Greece and Turkey, Ireland and the
Middle East, in showing that it is possible to settle
differences and build a durable peace."
U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler,
Dec. 31, 1999
In his Dec. 31 bimonthly report to Congress on
Cyprus Clinton described the talks as a "positive
step toward bringing about a just and lasting
solution for all Cypriots and improving Greek-Turkish
relations for a more secure southern Europe." The
goal of the talks, he added, "is to prepare the
ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a
comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem."
And, in another report to Congress--transmitted
Jan. 4--entitled "A National Security Strategy for a
New Century" the President said , "Our goals are to
stabilize the region by reducing long-standing
Greek-Turkish tensions and pursuing a comprehensive
settlement on Cyprus."
Cyprus Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou
said the Cyprus government hopes that "the U.S.
interest on a settlement in Cyprus will move in the
right direction and will reinforce efforts to
implement U.N. decisions."
After a Security Council briefing by the Secretary
General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro
de Soto, Council President, Britain's
Permanent Representative Sir Jeremy
Greenstock said the Council commended the
commitment shown by the participants and encouraged
all concerned to continue their efforts towards a
comprehensive settlement. "The Council has
stated repeatedly that the status quo in Cyprus is
unacceptable," he said.
Mr. de Soto said, "The issues are very
complex and difficult, and they have to be examined
in great depth and with great care, in order to
ensure that the comprehensive settlement that is
eventually reached down the road is indeed one that
is solid and will stick."
He said that when the talks resume they would
again be on the basis of proximity talks. "We
look forward to keeping the parties engaged . . .
nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. . . .
What is significant about the talks is that the
climate that now prevails has chances, and we are
fairly confident that the parties are indeed prepared
to lend to this effort the constructive spirit that
would be needed for the talks to eventually come to
fruition," he said.
On Dec. 29, United Nations Acting Resident
Representative James Holger said in Nicosia, after a
meeting with President Clerides, that efforts to
settle the Cyprus question are on the right track and
for the first time there are elements pointing to the
direction of a settlement.
- Process Realistic
And, on Dec. 23, Britain's Special Envoy for
Cyprus Sir David Hannay described
the first round as "the beginning of a
serious sustained effort . . . it was very useful and
fruitful," and added that the process is a
"realistic one." Hannay said the EU
summit was "an extremely important development," and
that Cyprus, Greece and Turkey are
"travelling to the same destination."
- President Clerides's Message as the Year
In his New Year message to the nation President
Clerides expressed the wish that, "the way will open
up in the year 2000 for a just, viable and workable
solution" to the Cyprus problem, as well as "the
unhindered continuation of Cyprus's accession course
to the EU."
The President said the strategy on both issues
"has set in motion various forces which can make a
decisive contribution to a solution."
"We have to devote all our energy to turn into
reality in the first years of the new millennium our
common vision for a new Cyprus. A Cyprus which,
despite its small size, will secure an enviable place
among the developed states in Europe," he said.
"Tonight not only pleasant but also unpleasant
memories come to our mind more vividly. One of these,
which continues to be a painful reality, is the
continuing occupation of about one-third of our
homeland by Turkey with all its repercussions which
still affect us."
"I am certain, however, that this painful memory
strengthens our endurance and determination to
struggle and keep our optimism and hope alive and
that, finally, justice will be restored in our
long-suffering country, to the benefit of all
Cypriots," the President said.
At his initiative, President Clerides also
exchanged New Year's greetings by telephone with
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
- Did You Know?
Cyprus and the United States signed a Mutual Legal
Assistance Treaty on Dec. 21 designed to strengthen
relations between the two nations' law enforcement
authorities. Minister of Justice and Public Order
Nicos Koshis said after the signing, "crime has no
borders and it is our duty to ensure that borders do
not prevent the administration of justice."
The Metropolitan Museum in New York has announced
that special Cyprus galleries will be inaugurated on
April 5. The exhibit will include the Cescnola
collection--some 6,000 artifacts dating from 1500 BC
to 300 AD. The collection, acquired by American
Consul to Cyprus Luigi Palma di Cescnola, was sold to
the museum in 1874 and has been in storage ever
On Dec. 2, Cyprus signed Protocol 7 to the
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms, which guarantees the right of
aliens to procedural guarantees in the event of
expulsion from the territory of a state, and the
right of a convicted person to have his sentence
reviewed by a higher court.
The 4th Young Leaders Network Conference met in
Paphos Dec. 2-6. The conference was led by experts
from Harvard University and UNESCO and was attended
by some 60 participants.
On Dec. 22, Major General Victory Rana of Nepal
assumed command of UNFICYP replacing Argentine Major
General Evergisto Arturo de Vergara.
In late December remains of a child unearthed in
1994 have proven to be the oldest identified in
Cyprus dating back to 8300 BC.
Tourist arrivals until the end of November
increased by 9.9 percent over the corresponding
period last year.
- Cyprus Breezes Through Y2K
Cyprus celebrated the coming of the millennium
with fireworks and music, food and dancing throughout
the free areas without any Y2K difficulties.
The Cyprus Telecommunications Authority and the
Electricity Authority continued to function normally
Cyprus Airways conducted successful test flights
over Beirut and Paphos carrying members of the Board
of Directors and journalists. Another flight headed
toward Greece. Both were uneventful. Newly appointed
Chairman of Cyprus Airways Haris Loizides praised the
carrier's employees saying, "The results certify the
high professional standard of Cyprus Airways' staff
which has made the company one of the safest in the
Meanwhile, financial markets reported a smooth
transition into 2000 with no Y2K problems affecting
the banking sector or the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
Andreas Phillipou, chief senior manager of the
Central Bank of Cyprus's supervision and regulation
division reported a "complete absence" of
Banks and the exchange closed on Jan. 3 to conduct
tests as a precaution, and systems were found to be
working with no problems.
On Jan. 9, more than 1,600 Turkish Cypriot
pilgrims crossed into government-controlled areas to
visit the Hala Sultan Mosque.
Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs
Takis Christopoulos said that a group of Greek
Cypriot pilgrims are expected to visit the
Turkish-occupied monastery of Apostle Andreas on the
Karpas Peninsula on Easter Monday, May 1.
The Hala Sultan Mosque was built in memory of the
Prophet Mohammed's aunt Umm Haram and is considered
to be one of Islam's holiest shrines.
- Cyprus & the EU
Helsinki Action Brightens Outlook
The European Union agreed on Dec. 11 at the
Helsinki Summit to upgrade Turkey to a candidate
country while giving assurance that a solution to the
Cyprus problem is not a precondition for the island's
In the conclusions of the European Council's
Summit, EU leaders welcomed the launch of U.N.-
sponsored proximity talks which began on Dec. 3 in
New York. They made clear that a political settlement
would facilitate the accession but added that,
"If no settlement is reached by the
completion of accession negotiations, the Council's
decision on accession will be made without the above
being a precondition. In this the Council will take
account of all relevant factors."
Greek Prime Minister Costas
Simitis welcomed the Council's statement
saying, "It is clear that from now on the
process of Cyprus's accession to the EU will be
unimpeded and that a solution of the Cyprus problem
will not be a condition for Cypriot
British Prime Minister Tony Blair
also endorsed the Council's statement noting that
Cyprus's accession to the EU is a matter for decision
by the EU member states and there should be no
President Clerides stated that
the EU decision "provides that the solution
of the Cyprus problem is not a precondition to the
accession of Cyprus to the EU." He
continued, "I wish to emphasize that we will
spare no effort to find an agreed, just viable, and
workable solution compatible with the acquis
communautaire and the code of human
rights." He also said his "invitation to the
Turkish Cypriot community to participate in the
delegation negotiating Cyprus's accession to the EU
is still open."
- Cypriots Satisfied
Chief Cyprus EU Negotiator George Vassilou said
that decision of the Council, "should satisfy every
Cypriot, because we have been asking for so long for
the dissociation of the accession course from the
Cyprus settlement course and at last it is clearly on
the table." The Council, he said "underlines that a
political settlement will facilitate the accession of
Cyprus to the EU."
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said Greece
and Cyprus should make full use of the results of the
Summit as it has created a new political climate
which the Turkish side cannot ignore, and he
underlined that the process of proximity talks is the
only way to settle the protracted Cyprus problem.
For his part, Greek Foreign Minister
George Papandreou said that "the
decision will have a positive effect on Cyprus. . . .
We hope that better conditions will be created so
that the internal and external problems Turkey faces
will be addressed."
Meanwhile, the heads of the negotiating teams of
the six countries that opened accession talks with
the EU last year welcomed the decision to accept new
states from the end of 2002. In a joint statement
issued at the conclusion of the 9th meeting of the
six negotiating teams held in Bled, Slovenia, on Dec.
16-18, the negotiators said that "all efforts should
be made to finalize negotiations at the latest in
2001 in order to make accession to the EU possible by
- On Schedule
In that regard, Foreign Minister Kasoulides
pledged on Dec. 7 that Cyprus would be able to fully
implement the acquis communautaire by Jan.
1, 2003. Cyprus has already completed the study of
the acquis and the screening process and
initiated negotiations on 23 out of 29 chapters.
- Interest Rates To Be Liberalized in
On Dec. 28, Cyprus's House of Representatives
announced that Cyprus will scrap the ceiling on
interest rates in 2001 in the first major shake-up to
its monetary system in almost half a century.
With its anticipated entry into the EU, the House
took action to ease restrictions on commercial bank
rates which are currently 8 percent for borrowing and
6.5 percent for deposits.
The Jan. 1, 2001 date for abolishing the ceiling
is to give the government time to consider safeguards
for various groups that might be vulnerable to
possible severe rate swings.
New Taxation for Stock Exchange
The House of Representatives has also approved new
regulations concerning the taxation of profits from
investments in the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
The new regulations, approved on Dec. 28, provide
that for 1999 the first 35,000 pounds (1 Cyprus pound
= US$1.8) in profits will not be subject to taxation.
Profits over that limit will be taxed at the rate of
5 percent for individuals and 20-25 percent for