Cyprus proximity talks postponed
due to President Clerides' surgery


May 31, 2000  

The Cyprus proximity talks scheduled for May 23 were postponed due to President Clerides’ surgery on May 5 to remove a polyp from his large intestine. Dates and location for the resumption of the talks were to be discussed at a later stage. 

An official UN statement issued in New York said that "in light of the time required for the recovery of his Excellency Mr. Clerides following his recent surgery, the proximity talks on Cyprus scheduled for May 23 have been postponed". It further noted the issue was discussed by the Secretary-General's Special Advisor, Alvaro de Soto and representatives of the parties.

Meanwhile Cyprus Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told the press that the government has been sounded out about the convening of the next round of UN-led peace talks in Geneva instead of New York as was scheduled, at the end of June, but nothing concrete has been decided yet on the matter.

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides resumed his duties on May 9. According to a medical bulletin complete cure was expected.



 The US should exert its influence on Turkey to see that it adopts a "constructive and positive" position on the Cyprus question, current European Union President Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama has said, noting that the EU has already met a US goal regarding Turkey's European aspirations by nominating that country an EU candidate.

Gama, speaking on May 3 at a press conference in Nicosia, also said the EU Helsinki summit conclusions have outlined clearly the dimensions of Turkey's relations with the EU, noting that the Cyprus problem is included in the political process of Ankara and stressing the importance of the EU decision to accept Cyprus as a member even if the Cyprus question is not solved. 

The Portuguese Foreign Minister reiterated that no separate negotiations can take place with the Turkish Cypriot community but stressed the need to inform the Turkish Cypriots about the merits of accession and the Union's institutions. 

Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on his part advocated more US engagement in Cyprus to render the Turkish stance positive and constructive towards a settlement.

Referring to the EU influence on Turkey, Gama noted that "our conclusions in Helsinki are very clear regarding all the dimensions of Turkish negotiations", adding that "the Cyprus problem is included in the political process of Turkey". He explained that not only is the Cyprus problem included in that process but also compliance with international law is noted. Gama also referred to the EU decision in Helsinki to go ahead with Cyprus' accession even if the problem is not solved, which he described as "something new and different regarding Cyprus." 

The Portuguese Foreign Minister stressed the importance of the information process towards the Turkish Cypriots to hear about the EU accession merits. "The new factor is that Turkey is also dedicated to the process of future integration, what we do everywhere regarding information about the merits of the EU is also time to do it in the Turkish side of Cyprus and that is the ongoing information process," Gama explained. 

The visiting diplomat said Portugal is very interested in developments in the Cyprus issue and its accession process and referred to various EU decisions relating to Cyprus. "The purpose of my visit is to reaffirm the commitment to the strategy we adopted in Helsinki and with the enlargement procedures," he said and described his contacts here as "very fruitful". 

Kasoulides said they discussed efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, EU related matters, including enlargement, the objectives of the Portuguese presidency, the Barcelona process and developments in the Middle East. 



During the 49th Miss Universe pageant held in Cyprus on May 13 and aired live by CBS to 1,5 m viewers in the US and Latin America from Eleftheria Stadium in Nicosia, Miss India, Lara Dutta was crowned Miss Universe 2000. The 21-year-old economist from Bangalore was crowned by Miss Universe 1999, Miss Botswana Mpule Kwalagobe. The pageant's first runner-up was Miss Venezuela 2000, Claudia Moreno, and second runner-up was Miss Spain Helen Lindes. 

The two-hour telecast at 4 am (local time) was an energy-boosted super-production, watched by almost 5,000 locals and foreign visitors, was pre-sold by CBS to another 125 countries worldwide. It was the eighth of a series of nine events organized in Cyprus, attracting a total of 13,000 people. 

The set was a magnificent reproduction of ancient curium amphitheater, with elements from Famagusta Gate in Nicosia, Lefkara village and various other medieval and ancient sites across the island. During the telecast a voice-over explained to American audiences the legend of Aphrodite, said to be born off the shores of Cyprus and to be the world's first Miss Universe chosen by Paris in Cyprus in 1000 BC. 



Androulla Laniti, 50, has been appointed Director of the Cyprus Republic's Press and Information Office (PIO). Mrs. Laniti, who has been working with PIO since 1976 was born in Nicosia in 1950 and studied French Literature at the Sorbonne, where she also received her MA degree in linguistics.

She has studied journalism in Paris and international relations at Kent University in Britain. Mrs. Laniti has also worked with the Cyprus Tourism Organization office in Paris and taught French at secondary schools in Cyprus. She served with the Greek Service of the BBC in London.



On May 9, the Cyprus Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Sotos Zackheos announced the Republic’s decision to voluntarily relinquish the discount it enjoys in its contribution to the international organization, as a gesture of support to the institution of peace-keeping operations. 

Speaking before the Fifth Committee of the UN, dealing with administrative and budget issues of peace-keeping operations of the international organization, Zackheos stressed that Cyprus, where one of the longest serving peace-keeping forces (UNFICYP) has been stationed since 1964, considers funding of such operations very important. 

UNFICYP, which arrived in Cyprus in March 1964, comprises about 1,250 military and civilian personnel, from nine countries. The UN General Assembly decided in June last year to appropriate the amount of 45,630,927 US dollars gross for the maintenance of the force for the twelve month period from July 1999 to 30 June 2000. 

This amount includes the voluntary contributions of one third of the force, equivalent to 14,630,810 dollars from the government of Cyprus and the annual pledge of 6.5 million from the government of Greece. Of the total amount appropriated by the Assembly, 12.25 million will be assessed on member states. 



Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Cyprus, James Holger, stressed the need for bi-communal contacts on the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, in order to promote confidence between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. 

Giving a lecture On May 19 on “Building Bridges in Cyprus,” organized by the Ihsan Ali Foundation, Holger said bi-communal contacts build up the base of mutual understanding to move forward with a solution to the Cyprus problem and the island’s accession to the European Union. Holger said “building bridges means opening up avenues of communication, establishing joint projects of bi-communal cooperation, bringing down walls of suspicion and mistrust, removing obstacles that prevent dialogue.” 

He noted that “while bridge-building will not necessarily lead to a solution of the Cyprus problem, it can however help towards such goals” and that “Dr. Ihsan Ali’s ideals of mutual understanding, tolerance and friendship are reflected in many international human rights agreements.” 

"Such ideals have also been invoked by leaders of both communities” on the island, he said, noting that “good words should obviously be followed by deeds,” something which “does not always happen.” 

Holger pointed out that “bi-communal programmes help create a base of human contacts between people who have to share the same island and, because of this geographical imperative, must tolerate each other and better yet understand each other,” adding that “it could also be argued that many of the issues that affect the island, such as water resources, animal diseases, pollution, forest fires, and smuggling, require cooperation across the buffer zone.” 

Rounding up his lecture, Holger said that “as we enter the new millennium, with globalization and integration bringing people together, not separating them, there seem to be clear indications that Cyprus is moving towards Europe, hopefully as a united entity” and that “European Union accession should benefit all Cypriots and perhaps the Turkish Cypriots most of all.”

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