October 5, 1995
Embassy of Cyprus
Press & Information Office
2211 R Street NW
Washington DC 20008
(202) 234-1936 Fax
Clerides Outlines Future Policy
During his last two and one-half years in office, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides hopes either to see the Cyprus problem solved or on its way to a solution. This was his message to the Cypriot people on October 1, the 35th anniversary of Cyprus' independence.
"The Cyprus problem, 21 years after the Turkish invasion, is still unresolved and in a stalemate," Clerides said, "due to the lack of political will on the part of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership," as well as an unwillingness on the part of the U.N. Security Council to take measures to implement its resolutions on Cyprus. Since Turkey's 1974 invasion and continuing military occupation, Turkish positions on every key issue have remained unchanged, and "in light of these negative positions of the Turkish side, a direct discussion would only result in the wasting of time," he continued. Instead, the Cyprus government has urged the international community, particularly the permanent Security Council members, to "direct their efforts to Turkey so that common ground may be found between the two sides on the basic issues which will enable the resumption of negotiations on all the aspects of the problem." The "common ground" needed for the resumption of negotiations must be based on the 1977 and 1979 high-level agreements, the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus, and the principles of international law.
Solution Must End Cyprus Division
"We seek a just, viable and workable solution, a solution which will reunite the divided island and safeguard its independence, territorial integrity, single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship," Clerides stressed, adding that any solution must also "rid Cyprus of the presence of the occupation troops and settlers [and] safeguard the human rights and basic freedoms of all the citizens." Not only has the Cyprus government promoted positions which facilitate the search for common ground, but it has undertaken additional initiatives, such as Cyprus' application for full E.U. membership, which "act as a catalyst for a solution of the Cyprus problem."
Faced with Turkey's military buildup in occupied Cyprus--which U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali calls one of the most militarized areas of the world--President Clerides reiterated that the government's demilitarization proposal "still stands and it is a priority issue." But until Turkey accepts to demilitarize Cyprus, he continued, the Cyprus government has the "right and obligation" to defend itself against a far larger and more powerful aggressor.
The Cyprus President concluded his independence day message by emphasizing that "our struggle is for the benefit of all the people because our aim is to safeguard the harmonious coexistence of all in conditions of real peace, security, well-being and prosperity" and he expressed the hope that this vision will soon become a reality.
Congratulatory messages on Cyprus' independence anniversary were sent by world leaders, including U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the U.S. President. President Clinton expressed his hope for a just and lasting settlement in the coming months, one which will give the people of Cyprus the confidence needed to achieve a bright and secure future. Clerides Assists U.S. Effort to Find Common Ground On October 3 President Clerides said he was outlining the government's position on six key issues--security, future guarantees, demilitarization, territory, Cyprus' accession to the European Union, and transitional arrangements, as part of an American effort to achieve the common ground needed for U.N. talks to resume.
"If anything emerges from this" effort, the Cyprus President said on October 5, the U.S. will turn over its findings to the U.N. and "let them continue the work." Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has not yet agreed to assist the U.S. effort by outlining his views on all key issues.
The American initiative corresponds with recent promises by Clinton Administration officials to intensify U.S. efforts on Cyprus. "We are going to make a major push on Cyprus again," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke told the Hellenic American Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, on September 26, stressing that "we must move forward on Cyprus." Calling the Clinton Administration "the most heavily engaged administration on this issue in memory," he gave his commitment that after Bosnia, Cyprus "is my highest personal issue."
President Clinton "has also been working very, very hard" to break the current deadlock, Senior U.S. Presidential Advisor George Stephanopoulos told the conference on September 27, adding that during "every single meeting the President has had with [Turkish] Prime Minister Ciller and President Demirel, he has insisted that we must find a way to make progress on Cyprus." Recognizing that "we still have a long way to go until we have justice on Cyprus," Stepha-nopoulos said that Holbrooke "has direct orders and authorization from the President" to try and reach a settlement.
In remarks to the Hellenic American conference, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) agreed that there must be "a totally different atmosphere and a totally different structure on Cyprus." Continuing the tradition of bipartisanship in U.S. policy on Cyprus, Gingrich said the Clinton Administration will "have to play a lead role" in U.S. efforts on Cyprus. But "I would like to establish some kind of way of working together," he added, to achieve "some surprising breakthroughs in the next couple of years."
The U.S. House of Representatives has called for the withdrawal of Turkey's occupation forces from Cyprus and for the demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus. House Concurrent Resolution 42, overwhelmingly adopted on September 18, "considers that ultimate, total demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus would meet the security concerns of all parties involved, would enhance prospects for a peaceful and lasting resolution of the dispute regarding Cyprus, would benefit all of the people of Cyprus, and merits international support." Welcoming President Clinton's appointment last year of a Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, the House resolution also reaffirms support for a solution based on the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus. Given the lack of progress in U.N. talks, the House resolution also encourages the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. government to consider "alternative approaches" to promoting a settlement, including "effective measures against any recalcitrant party."
Resolution "Particularly Encouraging" Cyprus Government Spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides welcomed the fact that the resolution emphasizes that the status quo resulting from Turkey's division of the island was unacceptable, and he said it was "particularly encouraging" that the House of Representatives recognized that demilitarization will meet the security concerns of all sides and increase the chances of a lasting peace.
"The most important part of the House resolution," he continued, is "that it encourages the Security Council and the U.S. government to consider alternative approaches to promote a settlement on the basis of the relevant U.N. resolution, including incentives to encourage progress in talks or effective measures against any recalcitrant party." The Cyprus government has long sought such Council action, believing that coercive measures against Ankara may finally produce the flexibility needed for progress to be achieved.
Cyprus Ambassador Andrew Jacovides hailed the adoption of the resolution as a "major step forward" which "substantially advances the efforts of President Clerides and the government of Cyprus towards international acceptance and support for the concept of the demilitarization of Cyprus." During the House debate several Representatives expressed their outrage that Turkey continues to undermine the U.N. effort, emphasizing that a solution will not be achieved unless Turkey withdraws its occupation troops.
Turkish Troop Withdrawal "Long Overdue"
"The withdrawal of foreign forces from the island is long overdue and would certainly contribute to a climate conducive to negotiations leading to a settlement along the lines recommended in numerous Security Council resolutions," House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY) said in support of the resolution.
Expressing frustration that Ankara continues to undermine the U.N. effort, Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) emphasized that "as the House's decision earlier this year to cut U.S. aid to Turkey illustrates, we mean business when we say we want to see this issue resolved consistent with respect for international law."
Far from withdrawing troops, "Turkey has recently increased the size of its occupation forces by adding 8,000 additional troops . . . this buildup adds tension and danger to an already unconscionable situation," said Congressman John Porter (R-IL) who, along the Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) were the resolution's original co-sponsors.
In September Cyprus began a "structured dialogue" with the European Union which represents "the stage [prior] to final integration with the Union," Spanish State Secretary Carlos Westendoup said in Nicosia on September 18. Westendoup, representing the E.U. presidency, emphasized that Cyprus' accession process was "irreversible" and could not be stopped by any third party, such as Turkey.
As outlined in July, the dialogue includes high-level consultations between the officials of the E.U. member-states and the Cyprus government to ensure that Cyprus government policy is in concert with E.U. policy. On September 25 the first such meeting was held in Brussels between Cyprus Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides and E.U. interior ministers, a meeting which concluded that in adapting Cyprus' laws pertaining to international crime, illegal immigration, and other issues, substantial progress had been achieved.
One of the aims of the structured dialogue is to clarify for all Cypriots, and particularly for the Turkish Cypriot community, the benefits of E.U. membership--a point emphasized by Westendoup during his visit to Nicosia. "We firmly believe the integration of Cyprus in the E.U. would be to the benefit of the whole island," he said.
Not only have E.U. officials repeatedly stressed that no third party, such as Turkey, can prevent Cyprus' membership in the Union, but that improved E.U.-Turkish relations are contingent on Turkish flexibility on Cyprus.
Without a change in Turkish policies toward the Kurdish minority and toward Cyprus, it is unlikely that the E.U.-Turkish Customs Union agreement will be approved by the European Parliament, European Parliamentarian Carlos Carnero Gonzalez warned on September 16. "Without a clear struggle against violations of human rights, without a new approach to the Kurdish and Cyprus problems, it shall be difficult to have the necessary majority to say `yes' to the Customs Union," he said.
The city of Nicosia is hosting the European Cultural Month under the auspices of the European Commission and Cyprus government. On September 15 more than 15,000 people, including numerous foreign dignitaries attended the opening ceremonies--a two-hour extravaganza which featured key events from the city's 5,000 history, including occupation by the Roman, Crusaders, Venetians, Ottomans, the British and, in 1974, by the Turks. In his opening address Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said that the importance of Euro-pean Cultural Month is to reaffirm that "Cyprus is an integral part of Europe," and he stressed that the Cypriot people will continue trying to reunite their country and the world's last divi-ded capital, Nicosia. Among this month's events are the production of several plays, concerts, demonstrations of traditional handicrafts, films, exhibitions, and the publication of two new books on the history of Nicosia.
As a "new political landscape unfolds before us, the time has come for the Mediterranean to be turned from a region of conflict into a region of peace, stability, and prosperity," Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides said on September 20, in an address to a conference in Limassol attended by more than 200 delegates from 29 countries. Sponsored by the Council of Europe, the Fourth Conference of Mediterranean Regions dealt with a wide range of issues, including the environment, migration, and demography. In the case of Cyprus, Michaelides said, Turkey's illegal colonization of the occupied areas is a blatant attempt to change the demographic structure of Cyprus.
In submitting the proposed government budget for 1996, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said on September 28 that the Cyprus economy continues to witness a high rate of growth, full employment, and a lowered inflation rate. The aim of the 1996 budget, he continued, will be to promote further economic modernization. Referring to the E.U.'s Maastricht indexes, which recommend that deficits should not exceed 3%, Christodoulou pointed out that the Cyprus deficit for 1994 was 1.5% and for 1995 is estimated to be 2.7%. Cyprus' 3.4% inflation rate also compares favorably with E.U. 1994 average of 3.5%.
With a fourfold increase in U.S. exports to Cyprus over the last six years, U.S.-Cyprus trade "has exploded," U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Richard Boucher said on September 21. Total U.S. exports to Cyprus were $313 million in 1994, but "over half of these exports, however, go out as re-exports from Cyprus," Boucher added. "That is $173 million worth of good business for the United States and good business for Cypriot agents of U.S. products." Although there are only 35 U.S. offshore companies in Cyprus, the Ambassador said they include some of the largest U.S. corporations, including Coca-Cola, Exxon, IBM, and Mobil.
In an October 3 address to the Federal City Club in Washington, DC, Cyprus Ambassador - Andrew Jacovides welcomed the current high-level of American interest in the Cyprus problem, and stressed that Cyprus looks to "additional manifestations of U.S. interest and support through the maintenance of more active engagement at an appropriately high political level, [and] the exercise of influence on Ankara to withdraw its troops and moderate its position."
On September 19 Ambassador Nicos Agathocleous presented his credentials as Cyprus' new U.N. Permanent Representative, replacing Ambassador Alecos Shambos, who returned to Nicosia to serve as the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.