On 15 February, Glafcos Clerides was re-elected President of the Republic of Cyprus for a second five-year term. President Clerides received 50.82 per cent or 206,879 votes, beating former Foreign Minister George Iacovou, with 49.18 per cent (200,222 votes).
President Glafcos Clerides was first elected president in 1993.
On 28 February, in his speech before the House of Representatives during his investiture as President, Mr. Clerides noted that the end of the 20th century brings the Cypriot nation before the most serious challenges as well as difficulties and added "if we face them correctly we can enter the 21st century with the Cyprus problem resolved, provided that the Turkish Cypriot side too takes a positive attitude."
Addressing the Turkish Cypriot community the President said:
"Cyprus is our common homeland. It is the homeland of all Cypriot. There is a place for all of us in Cyprus, irrespective of language and religion. Together we shall form a s stronger, more democratic, more creative, more humane and at the same time multi-ethnic society. We all belong here equally and we have to learn how to live together again."
Referring to the solution of the Cyprus problem President Clerides said:
"The solution of the Cyprus problem is not so difficult, provided there is goodwill on all sides. Speaking for myself, I shall do everything in my power to make progress and break the deadlock. The solution we seek is federation, a system ensuring that each community will manage its own affairs in absolute equality. At the same time it will safeguard unity and give us the chance to work for the common good. Internationally Cyprus should be one state, with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship, regardless of decentralization and specific differences."
On the same day President Glafcos Clerides announced his new cabinet and pledged to work together with his ministers in a constructive manner for the good of Cyprus.
The new cabinet is as follows:
Ioannis Kasoulides - Minister of Foreign Affairs
Dinos Michaelides - Minister of the Interior
Christodoulos Christodoulou - Minister of Finance
Yiannakis Omirou - Minister of Defence
Lykourgos Kappas - Minister of Education and Culture
Leontios Ierodiaconou - Minister of Communications and Works
Nicos Rolandis - Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism
Costas Themistocleous - Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment
Andreas Moushouttas - Minister of Labour and Social Insurance
Nicos Koshis - Minister of Justice and Public Order
Christos Solomis - Minister of Health
Christos Stylianides is the new Government Spokesman.
A Cypriot deputy has been appointed to the International Advisory Group for Albania to help the country's effort for democratization.
Marcos Kyprianou, of the Democratic party, who heads the Cypriot delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OASE), was appointed to the Group after a meeting of the Assembly Standing Committee in Vienna earlier this month.
The US has praised Cyprus for its efforts to combat drug trafficking and other drug-related crimes and described the Republic's moves to curb money laundering as "encouraging."
The State Department's International Narcotics Report for 1997 says "the (Cyprus) government enforces tough anti-drug laws," and noted the "excellent relations" it maintains with the US administration and other foreign government counterparts.
The report praises the government for the introduction of legislation to implement the EU Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime, passed in April 1996.
The US report remarks that Cyprus' success as an international offshore center has made it vulnerable to international money laundering activities but adds that "the Central Bank's efforts in recent years are encouraging."
The Laundering Investigations Unit, it adds, believes "Cyprus' efforts in this area have reduced money laundering activity" and there has been a "falloff in detected illicit financial activity on Cyprus during the past two years."