President Glafcos Clerides on 14 January has sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General informing him of his decision not to deploy the S-300 missiles in Cyprus, in compliance with UN Security Council resolution 1218 calling on Mr. Annan to work with the two sides on the island for substantially reducing the level of troops and armaments.
In his letter dated January 7, the President expresses the hope that the Turkish side will also comply with the UN resolution within a reasonable time limit. President Clerides points out that he cannot postpone indefinitely the signing of certain agreements Cyprus has made for the purchase of arms and military necessary for the Republic's defence and the completion of other agreements.
The UN Security Council approved resolution 1218 on December 22, 1998, expressing support to a UN initiative for promoting progress towards a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus and the reduction of tensions. It requests the Secretary-General to work intensively with the two sides so that they undertake "to refrain from the threat or use of force or violence as a means to resolve the Cyprus problem" and "a staged process aimed at limiting and then substantially reducing the level of all troops and armaments on Cyprus". It also calls for the implementation of a UN package of measures aimed at reducing tensions along the cease-fire line, established in 1974 after the Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the Republic's territory.
Government officials stated that the letter, dated January 7, aims at underlining the President's goodwill in anticipation of a similar response by the Turkish side within a reasonable period of time.
Foreign Minister Kasoulides said that "The significance of the President's letter is that our side is ready to comply with UN Security Council resolutions and as far as the reduction of tensions is concerned, we are ready to comply with resolution 1218."
UN Resident Representative, Dame Ann Hercus, engaged in the past four months in confidential shuttle talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides, indicated on 18 January that there is some progress in her efforts to resume the intercommunal dialogue and reduce tensions on the island.
Dame Ann Hercus also said the talks will continue, in confidence and described her meetings in London and New York as successful. Earlier in January, Mrs. Hercus traveled to New York and London where she had meetings with the UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Speaking after meeting President Glafcos Clerides, Hercus said the length of the talks "depends on progress and I do not believe any of us will waste time and energy if progress is not being made. So you can make a sensible assumption that as long as you see me shuttling, that means that some progress is being made," stressing that "when I stop shuttling, progress is not being made."
She said both her visits to New York, where she saw UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and London, where she met Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, were successful. "Minister Cook emphasized the commitment of the government of the UK to the UN process and in particular to the Secretary-General's initiative involving the shuttle talks," she said.
The Secretary-General, she noted, used the opportunity to assure me of the support of all parts of the UN system for our effort. "I am therefore committed to work with determination and creativity my efforts here and the shuttle talks are going to continue in confidence," she added, stressing that confidentiality has been "an essential element in the progress that has been made so far."
Invited to be more specific about the success of her meetings abroad, she explained her meeting in London was successful in that she brought back a message of "absolute commitment" to the UN process and in particular to the latest initiative of shuttle talks from the British government.
Turkey will have to account for the whereabouts of a Greek Cypriot, missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, if the European Court of Human Rights decides to hear the case brought before it by the man himself, his sister and his American mother.
This is the first time a US citizen is taking Turkey to Court seeking justice through legal channels in Europe but this is not the first time Turkey is facing legal procedures relating to missing persons in Cyprus. Nine other similar cases against Turkey were declared admissible in April last year by the European Commission. They are expected to be dealt with this year.
Moreover, last May Turkey was found guilty of human rights violations against a missing Kurd and was ordered to pay non-pecuniary damages amounting to 15,000 pounds sterling in respect of the said Kurd and 10,000 plus costs to his mother, who brought the case before the Court.
Greek Cypriot, Christos Karefyllides, who fought during the invasion as a reservist, is named in a UN list of people captured and held by the Turkish invading forces near Nicosia in the summer of 1974 with other persons, whose names also appear in the official list of prisoners of war taken to Turkish jails.
Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaime Gama, on 27 January paid a one-day visit to Cyprus where he held talks with Cypriot leaders focusing on the Cyprus problem and European Union issues.
He was received by President Glafcos Clerides, House of Representatives President, Spyros Kyprianou, and had a meeting with the head of the Cyprus delegation for European Union accession talks, George Vassiliou.
Mr. Gama pledged his country's support to European Union enlargement and Cyprus' accession to the Union.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Gama pointed out that "Cyprus is doing excellent progress regarding the economy and the adaptation of internal law," adding that work in other fields would be speeded up.
Describing his talks with Kasoulides as "positive", the Portuguese FM stressed his country's "great interest in contributing to a positive negotiation regarding enlargement of the EU and accession of Cyprus to the Union".
"A Truck Full of Hope" parked on 8 January in the center of Nicosia collected aid for the people of Honduras. The effort was launched by the Cyprus "Central America Relief Effort (CARE)" to help them face the consequences of Hurricane Mitch.
Speaking to Cyprus News agency, Carrie Hutton, said she set up Cyprus CARE in November and within three weeks from asking for help they collected 16 thousand kilos of donations from Cypriots, foreigners and the British Bases on the island.
"The response from Cypriots has been incredible. I'm very very proud. We've had people actually going out and buying brand new things to donate," Hutton said.
On January 12, Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe, Ambassador Thalia Petrides, signed two agreements related to the Human Rights Convention. The Sixth Protocol to the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe and the European Agreement relating to Persons Participating in Proceedings of the European Court of Human Rights, were signed in the presence of Secretary General of the Organization Daniel Tarschys.
The first agreement defines the privileges and immunities of the judges to the single Court, while exercising their functions and during journeys made in the exercise of their functions. It is already in force in many European countries while other states have signed the agreement.
The second one, enforced in various countries, has been made necessary by changes in the human rights control mechanism which set up a single permanent Court instead of a Commission and a Court.