Second round of proximity talks ends in Geneva
February 29, 2000
The Cyprus problem can only be solved if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash alters his positions, said Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides one day after the conclusion of the second round of talks in Geneva.
In statements on his return from Geneva on February 9 the President said they analyzed and concluded discussions on the four fundamental aspects of the Cyprus problem which were raised during the first round last December, namely the distribution of powers, security, property and territory. The president further said that the third round of talks, to start on May 23 in New York, would be a reinforced one.
Mr. Clerides further said foreign envoys who were on the wings of the second round of the talks did not have any involvement in the negotiations but held meetings with both sides asking for clarifications on the positions raised. Asked if any confidence building measures were discussed, he said he made it clear to Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the Greek Cypriot side would not discuss such an issue in New York or Geneva because the talks “are aimed at finding a solution and not to create measures of good will.”
“If they want to discuss such measures, the Secretary-General has a representative in Cyprus, we are in Cyprus and if they take place parallel with a solution, we would certainly not rule them out,” the President said, adding that the Secretary-General did not express such intention.
* Alvaro de Soto briefs the Security Council
The members of the UN Security Council were briefed on February 16 by Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto on proximity talks on Cyprus held in Geneva from 31 January to 8 February and “commented on the continuing commitment shown by the parties to the talks process,” expressing the hope “progress can soon be made on substantive issues.”
In a short statement to the press, Argentinean Ambassador Arnoldo Listre, presiding over the Security Council, said that “the status quo in Cyprus is unacceptable.”
Pointing out that “Council members commented on the continuing commitment shown by the parties to the talks process and welcomed the fact that the talks had been conducted in a positive atmosphere and without preconditions,” Listre said they looked forward to resumption of talks in New York on 23 May hoping that “progress can soon be made on substantive issues.”
SEMINAR ON THE ENCLAVED FOCUSES
ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
On February 19, the Democratic Rally (DISY) party organized in Nicosia a one-day seminar on the enclaved Greek Cypriots, living in the island’s Turkish occupied areas to send a message of unity for the struggle for justice and the return of the refugees to their ancestral home. Speakers at the seminar, pointed to the gross violations of the human rights of the enclaved persons and cited reports by the UN and European institutions castigating Turkey for this.
Attorney General Alecos Markides addressing the seminar said that Cyprus’ strength “lies in international law and human rights which gives the possibility to weak states to succeed in getting binding decisions against big states on the basis of international conventions.” He referred to such a decision, in the case of Loizidou against Turkey in which the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe found Turkey guilty of violating Loizidou’s right to peaceful enjoyment of her property (in occupied Cyprus) and her right to access to that property.
“This is no longer a dispute between a person and a state. It is a conflict between a member state of the Council of Europe with the center for public order in Europe, meaning compliance with the Court decision,” he said.
Markides said the plight of the enclaved is an integral part of Cyprus’ fourth inter-state application against Turkey, scheduled to appear before the Court in September. A report by the European Commission on this application said the treatment of the enclaved people is tantamount to adverse discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin, race and religion. It also notes that the living conditions of enclaved Greek Cypriots constitute a serious form of intervention in the right to respect private and family life.
President Clerides said in his speech that the government is making continuous efforts through international bodies to improve the living conditions of enclaved Greek Cypriots living in the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus and safeguard their basic human rights.
He further said that despite agreeing in August 1975 to “give every help (to the enclaved) to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and practice of religion,” as stipulated in the Vienna III agreement, the Turkish Cypriot side has reneged on this pledge and imposed numerous restrictions on the enclaved relating to freedom of movement, settlement, right to education and practice of religion.
A resolution adopted at the end of the seminar says that the UN and the European Parliament should act in earnest to safeguard the human rights of enclaved Greek Cypriots. It calls for an urgent visit by UN and European Union officers to the occupied part of Cyprus with a view to submit a report on the plight of the enclaved and push for measures to apply their own principles in this part of the island, where the government of the Republic has been prevented from exercising its jurisdiction since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded. The resolution appeals to both international organizations to work for the implementation of the 1975 Vienna III agreement, which the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash does not honour.
In September 1974 there were 20,000 Greek Cypriots living in the occupied areas, now there are only 588, due to the restrictions imposed by the occupation regime which have forced many to leave.
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION FAIR IN NICOSIA
The seventh International Education Fair 2000 was held from February 24-27 in Nicosia with 125 participations from 12 countries.
Addressing the fair, Education and Culture Minister Ouranios Ioannides said Cyprus is looking for new methods of modern education, within the framework of harmonization with the acquis communautaire. He further said the active participation of his ministry, the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religion and the Ministry of Education of Slovakia as well as high and higher education institutions from Cyprus, Greece and other countries “shows our continued search for improving our knowledge.”
In his address, Chairman of the Cyprus State Fairs Authority, Demetris Ioannou said the exhibition “underlines the tremendous importance of education in the overall development not only of our own, but of all peoples.” He also said it is evident by the large foreign participation that “Cyprus is growing into an important regional center with all the cultural and economic benefits that this implies.”
The fair was jointly organized by the Cyprus State Fairs Authority and the Ministry of Education and Culture. Participants included 13 Greek universities and 14 technological educational institutions, universities from another 43 countries, including the US, the UK, Russia, Ireland and the Slovak Republic, as well as the French Cultural Center and the American Fulbright Commission.
CYPRIOT HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATIONS IN BRATISLAVA
Greek and Turkish Cypriots, members of human rights associations on both sides of the divide, will meet in Bratislava on March 3-4 to discuss freedom of movement and freedom of speech. This will be the second out of four meetings planned under the auspices of the Council of Europe. The Bratislava meeting is co-organized by the Slovak Embassy in Nicosia and the non-governmental Slovak National Center for Human Rights. Participants at the Bratislava meeting will be members of the International Association for the Protection of Human Rights in Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot Rights and Freedoms Association. The meeting will focus on freedom of movement and settlement on the island of Cyprus and freedom of speech with a view to promote this right at home and abroad.
A press release issued in Nicosia on February 24 by the International Association for the Protection of Human Rights in Cyprus said in a joint press release issued after the end of the first meeting held in January 2000, in Strasbourg, participants pledge to work for the protection of human rights in Cyprus on the basis of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. The eleven members, who met in January, described their project as unique in that “it is the first time Greek and Turkish Cypriots have as their common objective a human rights culture that will ensure they live together in a united Cyprus and not side by side.”
The joint press release, issued after the January meeting, said the project aims to establish and promote a permanent relationship between Greek and Turkish Cypriot human rights associations and create a human rights culture on the island. The communiquι said the project, entitled “Confidence Building Measures in Cyprus: Actions of the Civil Society for the Promotion of a human rights culture, advocates approaches that “would unite the people of Cyprus and not simply allow them to live side by side.
At the January meeting, in Strasbourg, delegates attended a series of lectures organized by the Directorate General of Political Affairs and the Directorate General of Human Rights in cooperation with the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights. Matters relating to human rights education as a means of promoting the project and mechanisms for reporting human rights violations were discussed at the meeting. Freedom of speech, with special emphasis on attempts by the Turkish Cypriot regime in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus to close down an opposition daily, were also on the agenda.
CYPRUS AND UKRAINE PLEDGE TO FURTHER
DEVELOP ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Cyprus and the Ukraine have decided to strengthen their bilateral relations in a number of sectors, including trade, industry and the economy, following officials talks between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries Ioannis Kasoulides and Boris Tarasyuk in February. The ministers signed the two agreements, on trade and economic cooperation and an air transport, and initialed a protocol to further develop consultations between their ministries.
Tarasyuk said his country is ready to do all it can to promote a just and viable solution of the Cyprus question and both ministers agreed that the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-violation of national borders and respect for human rights must be respected without preconditions.
According to an official press release issued in Nicosia, the two ministers exchanged views on a wide range of international issues, bilateral relations and their prospects and established an identity of views on various matter, particularly matters relating to the regions of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Kasoulides, who was on a two-day official visit to the Ukraine, conveyed a message from President Glafcos Clerides to the Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. The Cypriot minister briefed his Ukrainian counterpart on developments in efforts to settle the Cyprus question and the two sides agreed to cooperate in international fora, such as the UN, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Kasoulides and Tarasyuk said there is room for improvement of trade links and acknowledge the importance of contact between business people from the two countries. Tarasyuk accepted an invitation from Kasoulides to visit Cyprus.
CYPRUS AND BELARUS SIGN AGREEMENT
ON MEDIA AND INFORMATION
Cyprus and Belarus have signed an agreement aiming at promoting bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the field of Media and Information. The agreement was signed on February 28 by Acting General Director of the Press and Information Office Androulla Laniti and President of Belarus’ State Press Committee Michail Pontgaini, who was on a visit to Cyprus heading a delegation.
Speaking after the signing of the agreement, Laniti said that it will be followed by another agreement initialed last December in Minsk and added that it will also contribute to further promoting the Cyprus issue abroad.
On his part, Pontgaini said it will open new horizons in the cooperation of journalists from the two countries in a vast area of issues. Information, he said, constitutes the basis for economical and cultural cooperation between Cyprus and Belarus and assured that after the signing of the agreement, information about Cyprus that reaches Belarus will be even more detailed and versatile.
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