Embassy Newsletter       Washington, DC      May 1999


[01] President Sees New Initiative by September
[02] Breakout Box
[03] U.S. Promises Action In the Coming Months"
[04] PSEKA Conference
[05] Breakout Box
[06] Mission to Belgrade
[07] Protection of Cultural Heritage
[08] New High Commissioner
[09] Did You Know?
[10] Cyprus & the EU

[01] President Sees New Initiative by September "At the Latest" Speaks out "Against Ethnic Cleansing" in Kosovo

President Glafcos Clerides said April 27 that he fully expects to see a United States, United Nations and European Union (EU) backed initiative on Cyprus "at the beginning of September at the latest."

In a televised interview, the President made clear that he remains ready to return to the negotiating table, setting no preconditions, and that existing United Nations resolutions provide a sufficient basis for successful talks, providing the Turkish side shows the political will to reach a settlement.

President Clerides reiterated his willingness to resume negotiations at any time."The U.N. Secretary General, the U.S., the British and the Europeans will deal with Cyprus, and I have come to the conclusion that the initiative will take place in September," he said.

The President has repeatedly said that two United Nations Security Council Resolutions (1217 and 1218) adopted last December provide the framework for a negotiated settlement "based on a state with single sovereignty and international personality and single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safe-guarded," which could lead the way to an end of Turkey's 25-year occupation of the northern third of the Republic of Cyprus.

"The U.N. resolutions lay out the basis for the talks." he said in the interview. "These are not preconditions." The President pointed out that preconditions were set by the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community who demands recognition of his self-styled illegal regime in the areas occupied by Turkey since 1974, the withdrawal of Cyprus's application for EU accession, and advocates confederation as the only viable solution, all of which run contrary to U.N. resolutions.

"We are ready to talk in the U.N. framework and the U.N. Secretary General cannot invite us for talks outside the U.N. resolutions," he said. Commenting on Turkey's rejection of the involvement of the G-8 in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, the President said, "this does not surprise us, nor does it bother us. Turkey's negative stance will be a burden on herself, not us."

Referring to the outcome of elections in Turkey, he said that any change in Turkey's position towards Cyprus would depend on the composition of the government and on whether those who can shift Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's hard-line position will exert significant pressure.

Commenting on the joint defense doctrine, providing for Greek air, sea and land cover for Cyprus in the event of a fresh Turkish offensive, the President said there is no policy change on this issue.

President Clerides also condemned the ethnic-cleansing taking place in Kosovo and backed the return of the refugees to Kosovo, noting the parallels to Turkey's creation of 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees in its 1974 invasion of Cyprus, while continuing to refuse to allow them to return to their homes. "We cannot want something for ourselves and not wish the same thing for others," he said.

The President called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Yugoslavia and the stationing of an international force in Kosovo there. "Kosovo must remain within Yugoslavia's borders, we insist on the return of the refugees to their homes, we back a peaceful settlement and would like to see an international force in both Kosovo and Cyprus," the President said.

The President also endorsed the EU directive to impose an oil embargo on Yugoslavia.

[02] Breakout Box

"Kosovo must remain within Yugoslavia's borders, we insist on the return of the refugees to their homes, we back a peaceful settlement and would like to see an international force in both Kosovo and Cyprus."

[03] U.S. Promises Action In the Coming Months"

President Bill Clinton has again expressed his commitment to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, and assured that his administration will shortly intensify its efforts in bringing all interested parties together for talks.

In an April 2 reply to a letter from the National Committee on U.S.-Greece Relations, Clinton said, "in the coming months" his "administration will intensify its efforts to convince all parties that negotiations are the only way to resolve" the Cyprus problem.

The President said he is concerned that, "we have not seen more progress towards resolution of the Cyprus conflict . . . I want to assure you that I am just as committed to finding a solution to the problems that plague Cyprus as I am to advancing peace elsewhere in the world."

Separately, in his bimonthly report to Congress President Clinton said, "The U.S. remains deeply committed to finding a viable solution to the Cyprus problem."

Meanwhile on April 22 U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Kenneth Brill said after calling on President Clerides in Nicosia, "The U.S. is very clearly committed to making a very substantial effort on Cyprus this year, working very closely with the U.N., members of the G-8 and the EU." Brill said that our "commitment is firm and unwavering and it is not affected by events in Yugoslavia."

The U.S. Congress also pushed for progress. On April 15, the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives adopted language amending the State Department Authorization Bill praising Cyprus for refraining "from exercising the country's sovereign right to self-defense," by not deploying air-defense missiles in the interest of peace. The amendment further stated that the "U.S. should do all that is possible to bring about commensurate actions by Turkey. . . . The time has come for the U.S. to expect from Turkey actions on the Cyprus issue in the interest of peace, including steps in conformity with U.S. proposals concerning Cyprus and in compliance" with U.N. Security Council Resolutions.

[04] PSEKA Conference

In a further affirmation of the U.S. commitment to action, several policymakers made strong statements on the occasion of the 10th annual conference of the International Coordinating Committee - Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA), held in Washington April 27-29, which was addressed by many officials including Cyprus Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, Cyprus Presidential Commissioner Manolis Christofides and many members of Congress.

White House Chief of Staff John Podesta told the gathering, "For 22 years, America has supported the creation of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus--a plan agreed to by Mr. Denktash and Archbishop Makarios in 1977. Our support has not wavered. . . . The U.S. will never recognize a sovereign Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. And we know that the current stalemate in negotiations over Cyprus rests with the Turkish side."

"Because they act as if they are comfortable with an unacceptable status quo--but we are not. Those of us who cherish the vision of a single Cyprus--peaceful and prosperous-- should not be deterred by the difficulties in moving closer to this goal." Podesta reiterated U.S. resolve to bring about a settlement. The President "is fully committed to finding a peaceful solution to end the division of Cyprus and create the prospect of a brighter future for all Cypriots, Greeks and Turkish," he said.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Marc Grossman told the conference, "We want a Cyprus solution because we want justice for all the people of Cyprus . . . and Greek and Turkish Cypriots to live together peacefully." He added that the U.S. wants "to grab every opportunity for progress which exists." Grossman further pointed out that, "no one can guarantee quick results," but "I can guarantee we will make every possible effort."

State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller summed up the U.S. position this way: "There is no question that the commitment of this administration is to a bizonal, bicommunal federal settlement . . . The only way that there is going to be a Cyprus settlement is in a negotiation. And this is what our efforts are directed toward, to try and get a negotiation started with all the issues on the table and no preconditions." He also said that the U.S. government, "believes that the refugees around the world, including those in Cyprus, have the right to return to their homes."

[05] Breakout Box

"A divided Cyprus runs counter to our overall efforts to create a peaceful, undivided and democratic Europe. . . . There is no good reason why Nicosia should be the last capital in Europe to remain divided, or why Cyprus itself should remain divided."

--John Podesta, White House Chief of Staff

[06] Mission to Belgrade

On April 7, Cyprus House of Representatives President Spyros Kyprianou traveled to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on a mission to free the three captured American servicemen who were being held there--a mission dubbed "useful" by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Although he met with Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, Kyprianou was unable to secure their release at that time.

Upon his return to Cyprus, Kyprianou noted that "the effort had not failed" but was rather "interrupted because of the circumstances which had been created."

The three were finally released on May 2 after a mission by Reverend Jesse Jackson. After the men were freed, the Yugoslav government expressed its appreciation to Kyprianou for his efforts. In a press release the Yugoslav embassy in Nicosia noted that, "the President of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus Spyros Kyprianou was the pioneer of the initiative to free the three Americans for humanitarian reasons."

[07] Protection of Cultural Heritage

On April 12 a United States Information Agency news release announced that the U.S. "imposed an emergency import restriction on Byzantine ecclesiastical and ritual ethnological material from Cyprus unless such material is accompanied by an export permit issued by the government of the Republic of Cyprus."

The import restriction was imposed at the request of the government of Cyprus which has been seeking protection of its cultural heritage.

The announcement notes that "materials produced during the Byzantine period illustrate the high degree of artistic achievement on Cyprus and include some of the finest pieces of Byzantine art ever produced."

The news release notes that both Cyprus and the United States are parties to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Article 9 of the convention aims at reducing the illicit movement of cultural property across international borders. Cyprus, the announcement states, "is the first country in the Mediterranean region to seek help of the United States in protecting its cultural property."

The reason for the request for the import restriction is the fact that Turkey has been systematically plundering Cyprus's cultural heritage in the occupied areas since it invaded the island in 1974. Some 500 churches in the occupied areas have been destroyed, looted or used for other purposes such as warehouses, stables or public lavatories, while most of their priceless relics have been sold on the international black market.

[08] New High Commissioner

Cyprus Ambassador to the United States Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis has also been appointed High Commissioner to Canada. On April 13, she presented her credentials to Governor General Romeo LeBlanc who reiterated his country's support of efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. Canada, he said, will continue to support efforts under U.N. auspices to establish a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus.

Mrs. Marcoullis thanked LeBlanc for his country's support in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and pointed out the government's objective "is the establishment of a viable and genuine bizonal and bicommunal federation, based on democratic principles and respect for human rights with provisions to meet the particular concerns of both
communities." She added that "Cyprus's EU accession process is viewed as a catalyst in the efforts towards a solution to the Cyprus problem, while membership itself would provide the best safeguard for the viability of a solution, affording increased security and prosperity for all Cypriots."

[09] Did You Know?

In mid-April a rare Phoenician tomb was discovered in Larnaca. The tomb, which dates back to 700 BC, was found intact. The contents included a human skeleton, 27 pieces of gold, jewelry, and the remains of three horses with their reins and copper blinkers. It is believed the occupant may have been of royal descent as Homer wrote that kings were buried with their horses.

Cyprus's executive, legal, judicial and local authorities have planned celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe next month. The CoE was founded in May 1949. Cyprus has been a member of the CoE since 1961 and actively participates in all its institutional bodies.

On April 29, one of the world's largest banking and financial services organizations, HSBC Holdings plc., in cooperation with its local offshore unit HSBC Investment Bank Cyprus, held a seminar on money laundering. Some 250 delegates attended.

On April 19, the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre, which has treated 1,000 patients since it opened nine months ago, was officially inaugurated by President Glafcos Clerides.

On April 12, 1,452 Greek Cypriot pilgrims visited the Turkish- occupied Monastery of Apostle Andreas for Easter celebrations.

The 24th Cyprus International Fair will open on May 14 with the participation of 368 exhibitors including an official U.S. pavilion. Cyprus State Fairs Authority Chairman Demetris Ioannou said the, "Cyprus International Fair is a top event of major significance for the economic life of Cyprus. . . . the special significance of the EU for the Cyprus economy is marked by the prominent presence of the EU at the fair."

[10] Cyprus & the EU

"Greatest Achievement" Since Independence

The Presidents of the parliaments of the 12 candidate countries for accession to the European Union, held their 7th Meeting with the President of the European Parliament in Sofia, Bulgaria, in late April. Following the talks all reaffirmed their commitment to European enlargement.

In their conclusions, the 12 Presidents pointed out that "the current tragic situation in Yugoslavia provided a dramatic reminder of the historic importance of the enlargement process as the principal source of peace, stability and security in Europe."

Parliament Promotes Dialogue

Deputy President of the House of Representatives Nicos Anastasiades represented Cyprus, and noted that Cyprus's parliament promotes dialogue with all of the island's citizens. He cited the invitation of representatives of trade unions, farmers, environmentalists and other non-governmental organizations to the 15th Meeting of the EU-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee, which was held in Paphos April 20-21 as an example of that effort. The Committee consists of both Cypriot members of parliament (MP) and EuroMPs.

Considerable Advances

During the Paphos sessions, the chief EU negotiator for Cyprus's accession Leopold Maurer, welcomed the "considerable advances made in the screening process and in the preparation of accession negotiations between Cyprus and the EU." He pointed out that 23 chapters of the acquis communautaire had been completed.

The co-chair of the Committee and Chairman of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee of the Cyprus Parliament Tassos Papadopoulos added that "Cyprus's accession course is continuing satisfactorily, because of the political will of the government, the parliament and the support of the people of Cyprus . . . Difficulties in Cyprus's accession course exist," he said, "but they are not insurmountable." He pointed out that the parliament was working hard on efforts to harmonize legislation with the acquis communautaire.

Journalist's Unions Meeting

In another development aimed at increasing public understanding of the accession process, the journalist's unions of the six first-round candidate countries attended a one-day symposium on April 24 at the invitation of the Union of Cyprus Journalists. The main message was the crucial role the media had to play in forming public opinion. Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides stressed the role the media plays in each country's accession course. "Informing public opinion is the link between each state's policy and the wider society," he told the journalists.

European Parliament Resolution

Also in April, the European Parliament addressed the refusal of the Turkish Cypriots to join the accession process when it released its "Resolution on the Regular Report from the Commission on Cyprus's Progress Towards Accession." The resolution concludes that while "reliable data about the north are lacking, due to the lack of willingness of the leadership in the northern part to cooperate with the Commission . . . Cyprus is economically ready
to join the EU and will not have substantial problems to incorporate the acquis communautaire in time."

The resolution also criticizes the Turkish side for its intransigence with regard to overall efforts to reach a settlement and end the partition of the country. The negotiations for a settlement, "have come to a virtual standstill due to the lack of willingness on behalf of Mr. Denktash to re-engage in negotiations unless certain conditions are accepted," it
said. The resolution calls upon the "Commission and the Council to put pressure on Turkey, by clearly indicating that the quality of EU-Turkey relations also depends on the Turkish attitude towards the solution to the Cyprus problem." Welcoming the Cypriot government's decision not to deploy air-defense missiles, the resolution "invites both the Turkish government and the Turkish Cypriot community to reciprocate this act by comparable confidence-building measures, such as withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory."

Two More Chapters Completed

As the accession process continues apace, chief negotiator George Vassiliou met in Brussels with EU officials and concluded two more chapters of the acquis communautaire, covering Telecommunications and Information Technologies and Statistics. Negotiations are pending on Consumers and Health Protection and Fisheries.

Summarizing the optimistic outlook on all sides regarding the accession process, President Clerides, in a press conference marking the first year since his re-election, described Cyprus's course to join the EU as "the greatest achievement" of the Cyprus Republic since its establishment in 1960.