Second Round of Cyprus Talks in Geneva
January 31, 2000
The second round of the UN proximity talks on Cyprus between President Glafcos Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash started in Geneva on January 31 and was scheduled to last for about 10 days.
The second round of talks continued on the same format as that of the first round, with separate meetings of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his aide Mr. de Soto with President Clerides and Rauf Denktash. The talks were about to concentrate on the issues of security, property, distribution of powers and territory in Cyprus.
Only a few hours before the start of the second round President Clerides sent a message to Turkish Cypriots that it is time for a settlement on the island through a genuine effort and direct talks.
Asked about his thoughts on the second round of talks, President Clerides said he is focusing “on the efforts to find a settlement based on the well-known basis.” UN resolutions provide for the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus.
On the opening day of the talks the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed the hope that the parties would continue building on the foundation for a comprehensive settlement, towards the end of this year. He also stressed that the only way to reach a settlement is through a continuous hard discussion with the spirit of give and take and a will to compromise. However he stressed that the process is “likely to be complex and difficult” and he did not expect the issue would be settled in Geneva but “we will work in earnest with the parties on a continuous basis over the coming months toward the goal of a comprehensive settlement.”
The UN Secretary-General said they are in touch with all players who are closely following the talks as well as the European Union, noting that he met the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Council, Javier Solana.
Regarding the third round of proximity talks, Mr. Annan said he hoped that the parties will return “in early summer to continue the process” and from there on “make a sustained and determined effort to achieve a comprehensive settlement.”
Mr. Denktash and Turkey are demanding recognition of the illegal regime in the occupied part of Cyprus and the establishment of a confederation of two states contrary to UN resolutions stipulating for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
TURKISH CYPRIOT PILGRIMS VISIT HALA SULTAN MOSQUE
On January 9, more than 1,600 Turkish Cypriots, living in Turkish occupied Cyprus, crossed into the government-controlled part of the island to pray at one of the holiest Islamic shrines, the Hala Sultan Mosque.
The 1,685 Turkish Cypriots, including young people and children, were ferried in 33 buses supplied by the government of the Republic and were accompanied by the Cyprus police and UN vehicles.
Many Turkish Cypriots were obviously moved by their visit and expressed their wish to see Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, reunited.
CYPRUS RATIFIES PROTOCOL FOR THE ABOLITION
OF DEATH PENALTY
On January 19 Cyprus ratified the protocol for the abolition of the death penalty, which will come into effect on February 1, 2000. The Republic’s Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe, Ambassador Christoforos Yiangou, submitted the ratification document of the sixth protocol of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which refers to the abolition of the death penalty.
The document was submitted in the presence of the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Hans Christian Kruger. This protocol is the first legal document in international law which legally binds the parties to abolish the death sentence.
LORD OWEN ON CYPRUS
AT AN ECONOMIST CONFERENCE IN NICOSIA
Former British Foreign Secretary and European Union co-Chairman of the International Conference on former Yugoslavia, Lord David Owen, has said that the international community’s commitment to settling the Cyprus question creates “a substantial hope for resolution in the relatively near future.”
Lord Owen was speaking on January 28, at the closing day of a two-day “Economist” Conference held in Nicosia the topic of which as “Heading Towards European Union (EU).”
He further said there is a “determination amongst the really powerful countries in the world that this issue (the Cyprus issue) must be resolved.” Lord Owen stressed that the Helsinki EU Summit decisions on Turkey create “a very important and substantial change,” noting that the resolution of the Cyprus issue “should stay within the UN.”
Referring to the role of the G8, he said “they all want this issue resolved and they are going to put quite a lot of effort right up to heads of government level,” adding that “we will see them at some stage becoming engaged again on the question” of Cyprus. “This is a conflict like quite a lot of them in our own region, in our own area of Europe that we must settle,” he pointed out, adding “we need to encourage the Americans to engage themselves in the process.”
“Those external forces are very powerful and very engaged and do offer a substantial hope for resolution in the relatively near future,” Lord Owen said. He added that there is “a determination amongst the really powerful countries in the world that this issue (the Cyprus issue) must be resolved.” “And that involves Russia, US, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, all of them want a solution,” he said.
Asked whether the Helsinki decisions will have an impact on the Cyprus issue, he stressed they will have “a profound effect provided the EU handles Turkey with the same sensitivities they have shown in recent months but frankly did not show over the previous years.”
Lord Owen further said the more Ankara sees hope in its relationship with the EU and with Athens, the “more they will have an input into Denktash’s negotiating positions,” adding that this is a “hopeful reality.” Referring to what Britain has done to promote peace in Northern Ireland, he said “we had to accept internationalizing Northern Ireland which is part of our state. It was a very difficult decision to do.”
FULL COMPLIANCE WITH THE JUDGEMENTS
OF THE ECHR IS INDISPENSABLE
On January 26 the Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer said that the Committee of Ministers Deputies of the Council would examine in February the non execution of judgement of the European Court of Human Rights by Turkey in a case relating to human rights violations of Greek Cypriot.
Questioned on the issue by British MP Tom Cox, Schwimmer said that “full compliance with the judgements of the Court of Human Rights is indispensable,” noting that he raised the issue with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem in Istanbul last November.
He said that in his view the execution of the ruling is not a political affair and that “a solution is actively being sought at the Committee of Ministers” adding that the “deputies will examine this case again at their meeting next on the 2nd and 3rd of February.”
Schwimmer also recalled the adoption by the Committee of Ministers of an interim resolution on the matter, last October, which stressed the obligation undertaken by all contracting states to abide by the judgements of the Court and strongly urged Turkey to review its position and pay the just satisfaction awarded in this case in accordance with the conditions set out by the Court.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in December 1996 that Turkey was guilty of human rights violations in that it denied access and use of her property in Turkish occupied Cyprus to Titina Loizidou. The Court ordered Turkey to pay more than 800,000 US dollars to Loizidou but so far Ankara has refused to comply with the Court ruling.
* Statements by the President of the European Court of Human Rights
On January 25 the President of the European court of Human Rights (ECHR) of the Council of Europe, Lurius Wildhaber, has said the Court will have before it, in the context of Cyprus’ inter-state application against Turkey, issues already raised during another case a Greek Cypriot won against Turkey.
Some of the Loizidou problems are also before us in the context of the inter-state application. So the problem will be before the Grand Chamber of the Court in the inter-state application,” Wildhaber said in connection with the execution of a Court ruling ordering Turkey to allow access and use of her property to Titina Loizidou, under Turkish occupation since 1974, and pay her more than 800,000 US dollars in compensation.
Speaking at a press conference on January 25, he noted the issue has been on the agenda of the Committee of Ministers for seven times. He said he was not aware that “a resolution has come closer.”
The Committee adopted an interim resolution on the execution of the Loizidou ruling last year strongly urging Turkey to comply with it. In the 50-year history of the Council of Europe, there is no single case when a country, member-state, has refused to abide by the Court’s judgements.
Replying to questions, he said some 200 cases from Cyprus against Turkey “are working their way up” and noted that some judges in Turkey favor the immediate implementation of the case-law of the Court.
“The Court will not accept a reduction of standards of the Convention of Human Rights. The Court is determined to abide by the existing law,” he said. Referring to the workload of the Court in 1999, he said 8,396 applications were registered compared with 5,981 in 1998, most of which are against Russia.
At the end of 1999 the Court had before it nearly 12,635 registered applications. In 1999, the Court delivered 177 judgements, declared inadmissible 3,519 while another 731 were declared admissible and held 84 hearings.
Asked about the lengthy procedures, Wildhaber said there has been a decision to set a limit of duration that is two years for ordinary cases and three years for more complicated cases.
INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE HONOURED PRESIDENT CLERIDES
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on January 17 awarded President Glafcos Clerides with a copper sculpture of two open doors, symbolizing peace and victory, the basic philosophy of Olympic spirit.
“The peoples of the world are called upon to enter the 21st century through these doors,” Cyprus Olympic Committee President Kikis Lazarides told the press after the award ceremony at the presidential Palace. He said the sculpture is a copy of the one erected at the entrance of the IOC headquarters in Lausanne and is one of 199 copies made, one for each member-state.
Lazarides conveyed the IOC request that the sculpture is placed within the Presidential Palace “so that visitors will know that the people of Cyprus and the President himself support peace and victory.”
Replying to questions he said the Cyprus Olympic Committee will contribute towards the success of the athletic and cultural events to take place in Athens during the 2004 Olympic Games.
* * * * *