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

  1. Resumption of Proximity Talks  Is Set for January 31 in Geneva
  2. Breakout Box
  3. EU Scrutiny
  4. High White House Priority
  5. Breakout Box
  6. Stalemate "Unacceptable"
  7. Process Realistic
  8. President Clerides's Message as the Year 2000 Dawns
  9. Did You Know?
  10. Cyprus Breezes Through Y2K
  11. Pilgrimages
  12. Cyprus & the EU
  13. Cypriots Satisfied
  14. On Schedule
  15. Interest Rates To Be Liberalized in 2001
  16. New Taxation for Stock Exchange Profits

  1. Resumption of Proximity Talks  Is Set for January 31 in Geneva
  2. 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 island.

    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 spelled out.

    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 Cyprus.

    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 the Spring.

  3. Breakout Box
  4. "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 Turkish membership."

    Los Angeles Times, Dec. 17, 1999

  5. EU Scrutiny
  6. 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 solution.

    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 federal state.

    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 said.

    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."

  7. High White House Priority
  8. 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 agenda."

    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."

  9. Breakout Box

  10. "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."

  11. Stalemate "Unacceptable"

  12. 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.

  13. Process Realistic
  14. 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."

  15. President Clerides's Message as the Year 2000 Dawns
  16. 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.

  17. Did You Know?
  18. 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 since.

    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.

  19. Cyprus Breezes Through Y2K
  20. 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 without glitches.

    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 world."

    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 trouble.

    Banks and the exchange closed on Jan. 3 to conduct tests as a precaution, and systems were found to be working with no problems.

  21. Pilgrimages
  22. 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.

  23. Cyprus & the EU
  24. 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 accession.

    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 membership."

    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 preconditions.

    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."

  25. Cypriots Satisfied
  26. 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 Jan.1, 2003."

  27. On Schedule
  28. 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.

  29. Interest Rates To Be Liberalized in 2001
  30. 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.

  31. New Taxation for Stock  Exchange Profits

  32. 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 companies.


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