Annan: Cyprus talks should contiune on bicommunal basis

May 29, 1998

UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan stated on May 8 that talks for a solution to the Cyprus problem should continue on a bicommunal basis, expressing hope that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will return to the negotiating table.

Speaking on CNN via satellite from Uganda, and replying to questions by Cypriot journalists, Annan described last summer's talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Denktash, in the US and Switzerland, as "good sessions". He pointed out, however that the second meeting "did not go so well".

Referring to efforts to resume bicommunal talks for a Cyprus settlement, the UN Secretary-General said that foreign envoys for Cyprus work with his Special Advisor Diego Cordovez.

Replying to a question by a Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) reporter, the UN chief said "we are having difficulties because Mr Denktash has imposed certain conditions. He would want to be recognised and be placed on the same footing as President Clerides before he will sit down to negotiate."

The UN chief expressed hope that even though US Presidential Emissary, Richard Holbrooke's, "last visit to the island was not very encouraging, the parties and in particular Mr Denktash will reconsider his position and come back to the table to continue the discussions".

Invited by a Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reporter to comment on Denktash's demand for recognition of the illegal entity unilaterally declared in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, Annan said:

"When I met Mr. Denktash in Geneva a few months ago, he made that point very strongly. I indicated that I will discuss the matter with the UN Security Council and I have posed the issue to the Council and I am waiting for their reaction".Until there is a change in the Security Council positions, he added, "the UN policy is for us to proceed the talks between the two communities and resolve the conflict and that is our policy".

Concerning President Clerides' proposal for demilitarisation of Cyprus, Annan said "it is much on the agenda". "If we were to move forward with the negotiations we will deal with it in transition, constitutional issues, security issues and a whole range of issues which will have to be tackled".


In a communique issued after their two-day talks, in London on 10 May, the Group of the world's richest nations reiterated its support to UN efforts for a Cyprus settlement and for the resumption of bi-communal talks towards this end.

The G7, plus Russia called upon Greek and Turkish Cypriots "to resume the direct talks under the auspices of the UN" and urged all concerned "to work for a settlement on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation".

They also expressed concern "that new developments in the military sphere, including an increase in force levels and the upgrading of sophisticated weaponry may risk further raising tension in this already unstable region".

Reiterating their support for UN efforts for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem the G7 and Russia particularly urged Greece and Turkey, "to promote good relations between them and to work for the peaceful settlement of their bilateral differences".

Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides indicated that the communique issued by the seven richest nations and Russia, in London, proves that the Cyprus problem is not forgotten and stressed that as long as the Cyprus roblem remains unresolved more weapons will be concentrated on the island and called all those concerned to assist efforts for a solution.

The G7 communique on Cyprus, Kasoulides said: "It proves that the Cyprus problem is not forgotten but is high up in the international agenda".

Commenting on the concern expressed over "new developments in the military sphere including an increase in force levels and the upgrading of sophisticated weaponry", Kasoulides said it would not influence the government decision for the deployment of the Russian defensive system S-300.


President Glafcos Clerides has warned against any ideas supporting any form of recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

Speaking on 20 May at the opening of the 23rd Cyprus International Fair, President Clerides stressed that any such suggestions would be rejected by the Greek Cypriot side and would harm relations between the Cyprus Republic and anyone nurturing such ideas.

He also expressed the view that efforts to settle the Cyprus problem have not reached a final deadlock and reiterated the government's desire for a peaceful solution.

The present situation, he stressed, cannot continue because it is "fraught with dangers for peace and stability in our region."

The President said he believes "the international community and those foreign states working towards the resumption of negotiations and a solution to the Cyprus problem should insist that the so called 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' will not be recognised and that the basis for holding talks will not change."


Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides stated, that a united Cyprus would benefit peace and stability in the Middle East and have a positive effect on the peoples and nations of the region.

Addressing the Conference of the "Young Leaders Network" of the Peres Centre for Peace which was held on May 5 in Paphos, Cyprus, Kasoulides said Cyprus has emerged as a bridge particularly between the Middle East and Europe and said that with its European Union accession the Republic will enhance this important role even further.

He also reaffirmed the government's commitment to the peace process in the Middle East and its readiness to "contribute actively to its successful outcome." Around 60 young people from Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel attended the Conference.

"It is better to agree to meet and hear out our disagreements than not to agree to meet", former Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told young Egyptian, Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli leaders.

Speaking at the Conference of the "Young Leaders Network", the Israeli diplomat stressed that in a changing world the Middle East should also change otherwise it would run the danger of being left behind. "The young generation should not follow the footsteps of their predecessors, not because their fathers were worse than the children or their parents but because the world has changed," he told the some 60 delegates.

Peres added "there is no longer an objective need for war", pointing out that "every country and every people can reach a new height of economic development and a new degree of freedom and different relations can develop among nations." "We cannot change the past, but we can change the future," Peres said, calling for the transformation of the borders between countries into "meeting places."


The Mediterranean section of the environmental organisation Greenpeace warned in May of the consequences in Cyprus and the region, in the event of an accident at a Turkish nuclear reactor proposed to be constructed near the Akkuyu bay.

Mario Damato, Greenpeace Mediterranean Executive Director, told a press conference that "Cyprus will be in the centre of the radioactive energy, in the case of an accident, and maybe it will be affected more than any other area, excluding Turkey which will have grave consequences."

Damato stressed that Cyprus will be affected whatever the direction of the winds, because of its close proximity to Akkuyu, and said Greenpeace is ready to pass on to the government any information it needs on the issue.

"People in Cyprus are just beginning to be informed on the issue of nuclear energy plants," he added. He said Greenpeace is carrying out a campaign in a bid to convince the Turkish government to change its plans, "but it seems as if it is determined to go ahead," he noted.

Cyprus should suffer catastrophically if a major accident were to happen at the proposed Turkish nuclear reactor at Akkuyu Bay, southern Turkey, a computer modeling study says.

The study released also in May by Greenpeace predicts how contamination would ravage Turkey and impact Cyprus as well as the entire Middle East region if there were an accident at the proposed nuclear power plant in Akkuyu.

"The sitting of nuclear power reactors (in Turkey) is a potential hazard for the entire region, not just Turkey," the report says. "It should be noted that at all times during the year, a release of radioactive gas (due to an accident) is highly likely to impact countries other than Turkey."

Turkey plans to build 10 nuclear reactors by the year 2020. The Turkish government is due to announce later this year which consortium has won the tender to build two nuclear reactors at Akkuyu Bay, on the southeast Mediterranean coast.


Cyprus Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides and his Argentine counterpart, Guido di Tella, discussed in Buenos Aires bilateral relations, the Cyprus problem and the Republic's accession course to the European Union.

Kasoulides, who paid an official visit to Argentina from May 14 to May 17 briefed his counterpart on Cyprus' accession process and on the provisions of Cyprus' customs union with the EU.

He thanked Argentina for its contribution to the UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and its support in efforts for finding a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem, based on the principles of international law and UN resolutions.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides also had discussions with the Argentine Defence Minister Jorge Dominquez. They discussed the Cyprus question and security issues.

Assuring the Cypriot minister of Argentina's interest in Cyprus, Dominquez pledged his country would continue to contribute to UNFICYP at the same level and numbers.


An ecclesiastical museum displaying Byzantine icons, books and other church treasures, some of which 900 years old, was opened on May 17 at Kykko Monastery, in the mountains south-west of Nicosia.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, President Glafcos Clerides stressed the museum will "contribute to the further development of Cyprus' intellectual and cultural life and to the protection and promotion of works from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods."

Noting that the museum will house artefacts 900-years-old, the President described it as a scientific institution of high standards.


A government-proposed bill decriminalising homosexuality was passed on May 21 by the House of Representatives bringing Cyprus legislation in line with the European human rights convention.

Thirty-six MPs voted for the decriminalisation while eight voted against and one chose to abstain. Eleven MPs were not present during the voting.

The government welcomed today a bill, passed yesterday by a majority vote in the House of Representatives, decriminalising homosexuality between consenting adult males in private.

"The government is satisfied with the House decision which troubled the legislative body of the Republic and tarnished its image abroad," Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides said.

* * * * *