EMBASSY OF CYPRUS, WASHINGTON DC
Embassy of Cyprus
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REUNIFICATION OF CYPRUS AIM OF U.S. POLICY
Secretary of State Albright and Foreign Minister Kasoulides Review Cyprus Developments on Eve of Direct U.N. Talks
We believe that the division of the island is unacceptable," U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in welcoming Cyprus Foreign
Minister Ioannis Kasoulides to the State Department on June 6.
The two ministers held an in-depth discussion on the status of the ongoing
U.N. effort on Cyprus, and on the role that the United States might play
in promoting the success of direct talks. The U.N. Secretary-General on
June 11 officially invited Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish
Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to hold the first round of direct talks in
New York from July 9-13.
"What we seek is the reunification of Cyprus. We believe that the division of the island is unacceptable," Albright said in a clear enunciation of U.S. policy aims on Cyprus. "The United States goal remains to encourage a Cyprus settlement that establishes a stable, bizonal federation, with adequate security guarantees for all."
Albright assured Kasoulides of "Americas interest in seeing the people of Cyprus achieve a lasting settlement . . . There could be no more dramatic a demonstration of that commitment than the Presidents decision to name Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as our special emissary to promote the Cyprus settlement." (See accompanying story.)
In her welcoming remarks Albright underlined that U.S.-Cypriot relations extend far beyond the confines of efforts to end the division of the island. "Cyprus is a valued partner in the fight against the new global threats of proliferation, terror, illegal narcotics and international crime," she said, adding that the two countries "have shared values and a shared commitment to building a world based on open markets, democratic principles and the rule of law."
Among the officials participating in the Albright-Kasoulides meeting, which also touched on bilateral relations, were U.S. Under-Secretary of State Thomas Pickering and Cyprus Ambassador Andros Nicolaides.
Kasoulides: Government Has the Political Will to Reach a Settlement
In the forthcoming talks, the Cyprus foreign minister reaffirmed to
Albright, President Clerides "will go to the negotiating table with a
positive and constructive attitude, having the political will to see
He also expressed to Albright "the hope that the U.S. government will work towards the government of Turkey" and towards the Turkish Cypriot leadership to ensure that they display the flexibility needed to reach an agreement.
If the Turkish side "comes to the negotiating table with the same political will, then the possibility for having a solution to the Cyprus problem is in sight," he added after the meeting. The people of CyprusGreek and Turkish"are ready to live together. They have always been ready. The Cyprus conflict was a very short-lived conflict in the history of Cyprus," Kasoulides said, "for centuries Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have lived together in peace, in mixed villages, in mixed towns, mixed neighborhoods, and I see no reason why they cannot do it again. So I think that reconciliation can come about."
Settlement Serves U.S. Interests
On June 5, the State Department spokesman underlined that one of the key
motivations for Washingtons intensified efforts on Cyprus is to promote
stability in the region.
The United States will be working to solve the Cyprus problem and other regional issues because "we dont think it is wise or prudent to simply sit by and think that these problems will be resolved on their own," Spokesman Nicholas Burns said. "It is too important to U.S. to protect our own interests and those of our allies in that region and to aggressively try to reach a solution on a problem that has existed now for 23 years." Given the inherent instability of the status quo on Cyprus, Buns continued that Secretary Albright "believes, as President Clinton, that the reunification of Cyprus is a necessity, the division of the island is unacceptable." The spokesman emphasized that "the United States will not support a solution to the Cyprus problem that will end with the island divided . . .we are not out to partition Cyprus. We are out to reunify Cyprus."
Since her appointment as Secretary of State earlier this year, Albright has discussed the best means of achieving progress on Cyprus in the coming months with U.N., E.U., and British government officials. In remarks in New York to the Cyprus Federation of American last September shortly after returning from a visit to Cyprus, Ambassador Albright, then U.S. permanent representative to the U.N., had underlined American support for U.N. resolutions "that affirm the territorial integrity of Cyprus, the illegality of the Turkish Armys occupation, the rights of the aggrieved, and the need for reach a comprehensive and just settlement." American involvement in Cyprus is not only important because of U.S. interests in the region, she said, "it is the moral and right thing to do."
New Factors Favor Cyprus Settlement
In Washington Kasoulides also conferred with National Security Council and
Defense Department officials and with U.S. Congressional leaders. In an
address to the National Press Club on June 6, Kasoulides emphasized that
several new elements should facilitate efforts to reach a comprehensive
settlement, including increased European Union involvement in a settlement
since negotiations for Cyprus accession to the E.U. will start early next
year, and heightened international interest in a comprehensive Cyprus
settlement in the near future.
Although President Clerides will attend the direct talks, Kasoulides expressed concern that "during the latest proximity talks, the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash remained inflexible, sticking to the positions he has held for the past 22 years," adding that the Cyprus government "would have preferred if these negotiations were better prepared in advance and common ground narrowing the gap" between the parties had been reached, as called for in recent U.N. resolutions. He warned of the danger that if direct talks fail, it will "erode faith in the negotiating process and give an opportunity to hard-liners from both sides to gain an advantage."
The Cyprus government fully understands "the anxieties of the Turkish Cypriots; our aim is not to dominate," he said, but for a lasting settlement to be reached the Turkish side must also acknowledge the legitimate concerns of the Greek Cypriots.
Bipartisan Resolution Calls for an End to Turkish Occupation
There has been longstanding Congressional support for increased American
involvement on Cyprus and for pressing Turkey to display the flexibility
needed to reach a settlement.
Reflecting this sentiment, on May 15 the chairman of the U.S. House International Relations Committee, Representative Ben Gilman (R-NY), introduced, along with ranking minority committee member Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and other original co-sponsors, House Concurrent Resolution #81. In the resolution Congress not only "reaffirms its view that the status quo on Cyprus is unacceptable and detrimental to the interests of the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond;" but "considers lasting peace and stability on Cyprus could be best served by a process of complete demilitarization leading to the withdrawal of all foreign occupation forces."
The resolution also welcomes President Clintons commitment "to give increased attention to Cyprus and make the search for a solution a priority of United States foreign policy." Representatives Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ) and John Porter (R-IL) have introduced H.R. 1361, which prohibits economic aid to Turkey for fiscal 1998 unless several conditions are met, including "withdrawal of troops from Cyprus and a good faith effort towards peace and reconciliation on the island."
HOLBROOKE NAMED U.S. EMISSARY ON CYPRUS
President Bill Clinton has named Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as the U.S.
Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, replacing Richard Beattie.
Interviewed by CNN on June 11, Holbrooke urged that the division of Cyprus
"which is an ugly scar across it like the Berlin Wall, should be erased."
"The President and the Secretary of State have repeatedly stressed the
importance they attach to resolving the Cyprus problem. The appointment of
one of our most capable negotiators demonstrates our commitment to help
promote a final political settlement on Cyprus," according to the June 4
State Department announcement appointing Holbrooke. State Department
Spokesman Nicholas Burns characterized the appointment as a "rebirth and a
renewal of the American policy in Cyprus."
As assistant secretary of state, Holbrooke in 1995 brokered an end to the
war in Bosnia. His appointment now as Clintons special envoy gives a
higher profile and immediate credibility to U.S. efforts on Cyprus.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright "would not be bringing Dick
Holbrooke in if we did not intend to make a very determined effort to move
forward in achieving a comprehensive settlement in the coming months,"
With the appointment of Holbrooke, Albright believes "that the U.S. is now in a position to play a very energetic role" in support of current U.N. efforts, Burns said on June 5, adding that Holbrooke will also be "prepared to be patient, take a longer-term view, spend a lot of time thinking about our strategy, and then beginning his own talks working very closely with the U.N." He added that "by virtue of his appointment, we are signaling a very aggressive effort in the Eastern Mediterranean." The Cyprus government has welcomed the Holbrooke appointment as confirmation of the importance the U.S. attaches to a Cyprus settlement, and the government spokesman said that the government now "looks forward to a just solution of the Cyprus question, which will be consistent with the declarations and the universal values that both the United Nations and the United States have committed themselves to uphold." The appointment "sends messages regarding the determination with which the U.S. government will work towards a solution to the Cyprus issue," Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on June 5, adding that "Ankara is the party involved who should be the main recipient of these messages." The appointment has been universally welcomed, including by the governments of Greece, Turkey, and Great Britain, and by leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community.
In recent months there have been strong bipartisan calls by Congressional leaders for President Clinton to appoint an experienced, high-profile diplomat as Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, and the Holbrooke appointment has been well-received on Capitol Hill. Eleven Senators, including Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Chuck Robb (D-VA), wrote Holbrooke that his appointment, "the imminence of the accession negotiations (between Cyprus and the E.U.), and recent positive developments in the relationship between Greece and Turkey give U.S. all hope that we stand on the threshold of genuine progress" on Cyprus.
U.S. LEADERSHIP NECESSARY FOR CYPRUS PROGRESS
Delegates from North America, Europe, and Australia discussed the
prospects for a lasting Cyprus settlement with high-level U.S.
Administration officials, members of Congress, and Cyprus government
officials during the annual conference of the International Coordinating
Committee -Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA), held in Washington from June 4-6.
If the people of Cyprus "are left alone without foreign intervention,
without the presence of the Turkish troops in Cyprus, we can live in peace
with our fellow Turkish Cypriots and we can have a bright future for
everyone," Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides stressed in his
address to the conference. Cyprus Ambassador Andros Nicolaides briefed the
conference on recent Cyprus developments and on the leading role the U.S.
can play in ensuring Turkish flexibility in the U.N. effort.
A large number of Republicans and Democrats in Congress also emphasized
the leading role the U.S. could play in securing a settlement. "If the
U.S. lent the full weight of its diplomatic influence to this effort, we
could effect a settlement," House International Relations Committee
Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY), told the conference. Gilman (R-NY), along with
Kasoulides, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), and Representatives Patrick
Kennedy (D-RI), David Bonior (D-MI) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) were honored
by PSEKA during the conference.
Cyprus Press and Information Director George Hadjisavvas urged the delegates to more effectively educate the public and government in their respective countries on the causes and consequences of the division of Cyprus, and he outlined plans to expand the Cyprus governments public outreach efforts.
E.U. MEMBERSHIP A KEY ELEMENT OF AN OVERALL SETTLEMENT
Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides completed a round of
consultations with European Union officials in Brussels on May 29, during
which he reiterated the important role the European Union can play,
particularly at this stage, in U.N. efforts to reach a comprehensive
After a meeting with Kasoulides on May 28, E.U. Commissioner for External Affairs Hans Van den Broek reaffirmed that negotiations for Cyprus accession to the E.U. will begin in early 1998. He also reiterated E.U. support for current U.N. efforts for direct talks this summer, and expressed the hope that important steps will be made towards a solution this year, since this will facilitate negotiations which begin next year on Cypruss entry into the Union.
Cyprus progress in the E.U.-Cyprus structured dialogue was the focus of a meeting between Kasoulides and E.U. Commissioner Christos Papoutsis on May 29.
Papoutsis conveyed the Commissions satisfaction with the progress achieved to date, and said the Commission is certain that the process of Cyprus harmonization with the acquis communautaire, the body of laws and regulations which make up the E.U. framework, will be completed before the start of accession talks.
Holbrooke: E.U. Important New Factor
The newly-appointed Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, Richard
Holbrooke, emphasized in a BBC interview on June 9 that Cyprus accession
to the European Union will play an important role in achieving a
comprehensive Cyprus settlement.
He called E.U. membership "a huge part of the equation" in reaching a settlement and "certainly the biggest new factor in this 30-year stalemate."
The decision that Cyprus will join the European Union is "of great importance to the Cypriot people, and by that I mean both communities," he concluded.
IN BRIEF . . .
Despite a recent pledge to end its illegal overflights of Cyprus, Turkish military aircraft violated Cyprus airspace during May and early June, a provocation which the Cyprus government protested to the U.N. "Turkey has opted to go down the road of provocative moves and violation of international law and order," the Cyprus government spokesman said on June 3, but he reaffirmed that the Cyprus government will maintain its earlier decision to suspend overflights by Greek military aircraft while U.N. talks continue.
Over 2,000 young Cypriots from the free and occupied areas of the Republic attended a U.N.-sponsored concert in Nicosia on May 19, featuring Greek singer Sakis Rouvas and Turkish singer Burak Kut. The event proved that despite efforts by the Turkish leadership to depict Greek Cypriots as enemies, "young Greek and Turkish Cypriots wish to live together," the Cyprus government spokesman said on May 20. A bicommunal event celebrating publication of a book jointly prepared by Greek and Turkish Cypriot architects, Twelve Traditional Cyprus Houses was held in Nicosia recently, the product of a four-year collaborative effort by architects throughout Cyprus On June 3 the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia sponsored "Our Cyprus," an exhibit of 69 prints taken by Greek and Turkish Cypriot photographers. "We thought this would be an excellent way for Cypriots to convey through photographs their images of what their homeland is, whats important about it to them, or whats beautiful to them," U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Kenneth Brill said. Despite attempts by the U.N., U.S., and others to promote such exchanges, Turkish occupation authorities continue to limit inter-communal contact.