October 31, 1998
The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has expressed appreciation for the Cyprus Republic's support to the international organisation's role in responding to the challenges that lay ahead.
In his response on 31 October, to a congratulatory message from President Glafcos Clerides on the 53rd anniversary of the UN, Mr. Annan points to the challenges facing humanity at the turn of the millennium, noting they are "as complex as any time in its history".
"We are confronted with conflict and endemic poverty in many parts of the world, with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, with the ravages of HIV-AIDS, with threats to the global ecology, with terrorism and other forms of transnational crime, and now with an economic crisis which has dashed the hopes even of some of the most rapidly developing countries", he says.
Mr. Annan adds that "as the UN seeks to play its role in responding to all these challenges and in helping the world's people achieve their aspirations for peace, development and human rights, its only resource is the support and confidence of its member states and their peoples."
"To know that we enjoy the support of the Republic of Cyprus is therefore of inestimable value", the UN Secretary-General concludes in his message to President Clerides.
The UN Resident Representative, Mrs Ann Hercus, stressed in an interview on 22 October with the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation that her gospel in the efforts for a resolution of the Cyprus problem is the UN Security Council and its relevant resolutions.
In her first interview, Mrs. Hercus said,that she did not believe UN Security Council principles were unrealistic and pledged to work for their implementation. Replying to questions, Mrs Hercus stressed that the gospel she abides by "is called the gospel of the Security Council and its resolutions and the principles that lie behind those resolutions. Of course this is my gospel", she stressed. Asked whether the provisions of this gospel may be unrealistic, the UN official replied she did not believe "the principles are unrealistic." "I believe in translating principles into life and making them work if I possibly can. If I fail it will not be for the want of trying", she added.
Mrs. Hercus stressed, however, that "in the end the solution lies in agreement between the parties. The UN can make every effort but they cannot actually agree for the leaders and the people", she said. "The final decision about what we agree on and when must lie always, anywhere in the world, with the leaders and the people. We are only a conduit pipe that tries to help", the UN Resident Representative remarked.
* UN sponsored shuttle talks
On 16 October a meeting between UN resident representative Ann Hercus and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides signaled the start of the UN official's shuttle talks on the island, towards reducing tensions and finding an overall solution to the problem.
The Government Spokesman, Christos Stylianides stated that the government awaited clarifications on the chapter reduction of tensions - security. He further said that the aim was to clarify several issues and after that a process of proximity talks could be established. The third stage of the process, he said, would be direct talks if a common ground was found.
On October 22, President Glafcos Clerides and UN Deputy Special Representative for Cyprus, Ann Hercus have had their second meeting. The Government Spokesman, Christos Stylianides said that the new UN initiative to break the deadlock on the Cyprus problem, undertaken by UN resident representative, was still at the "shuttle talks" level.
Sarah Russell, currently serving as UN public affairs officer in Afghanistan, will take over as new UN Cyprus Peace-keeping Force (UNFICYP) press spokesperson at the end of this year.
UNFICYP chief of mission Ann Hercus announced the appointment in a press release issued in Nicosia on 26 October.
Russell replaces Waldemar Rokoszewski, who served with UNFICYP for 11 years, first as political officer and then as spokesperson.
Mrs. Hercus also announced the creation of a new post of deputy Spokesperson, which will be taken up by Major Paul Kolken, who will arrive from the Netherlands early November.
Kolken will serve as acting spokesperson until Russell arrives in Cyprus.
Argentinian Minister of Defence,Jorge Dominguez, and British counterpart, George Robertson visited Cyprus on 5 October to inspect a joint British-Argentinian guard of honour of the UN Peace-keeping force (UNFICYP).
On 6 October the two Ministers of Defence visited the UN headquarters in Nicosia and observed an exercise by the Mobile Force Reserve, a 105-strong multi-national UN group,which is deployed as a reservist force in contingencies faced by the UN. After the UN headquarters, Robertson visited the 310-strong British contingent while Dominguez visited the 410-strong Argentine contingent.
The 1.200-strong UN force patrols the 180-kilometre-long buffer zone across the island, which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of its northern third by Turkish troops.
The Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU) remains firm on its support to a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation in Cyprus on the basis of a comprehensive settlement in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
The above position was expressed, on 6 October, in the Council's conclusions on enlargement.The EU Council of Ministers also requested the beginning of substantive negotiations with Cyprus and the other five candidate states on 10 November 1998.
In its conclusions on enlargement, the Council reiterates EU's "strong willingness to carry forward the accession process along the lines mapped out by the European Council and in accordance with the Union's general position presented at the launching of each Accession Conference". The Council requests "the convening of meetings of the Conferences on Accession at Ministerial level on 10 November 1998 and at the level of Deputies prior to that meeting in order to have substantive negotiations with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia".
Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides paid a two day official visit to Egypt between 20 and 22 October at the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart Amre Moussa during which he conveyed a personal message from President Glafcos Clerides to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The message refered to the Cyprus problem, bilateral relations and developments in the Middle East, as well as the crisis between Turkey and Syria.
During his meeting with President Mubarak, Minister kasoulides expressed the appreciation of President Clerides', the Government and the people of Cyprus towards President Mubarak, for the support of Egypt towards a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.
The Education and Culture Ministry strongly protested intentions of the regime in the Turkish occupied Cyprus to illegally take over one of the two Greek schools in Rizokarpaso, in the northern part of the island.
In a written statement in mid-October, the ministry underlines that this is one more provocative and unacceptable act against the few remaining Greek Cypriots in the Turkish-occupied areas who live under unbearable oppression and fear.
Around 500 Greek Cypriots have remained in the areas of the Republic occupied by Turkish troops since they invaded in 1974, most of whom in the Karpass region.
Some 33 children are attending elementary schools in the occupied areas, while secondary school pupils are forced to leave their parents and homes to continue their schooling in the government-controlled areas.
Cyprus' economy has been little affected by the Asian financial crisis and its repercussions, said Finance Minister, Christodoulos Christodoulou.
Addressing the annual meetings of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Washington, on October 7, Christodoulou said Cyprus' real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been increasing at an annual rate of around 4,5 per cent and the rate of inflation is in the 2 - 2,5 per cent range.
"The economic fundamentals of Cyprus are relatively strong and Cyprus is meeting four of the five convergence criteria of the Maastricht Treaty". He said "the economy to date seems to have been little affected by the Asian financial crisis and its repercussions".
Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has pledged to work for increased participation of women in the local political arena. Opening on October 7, a three day workshop entitled "Women and Men in partnership in Cyprus - politics of the future", President Clerides promised that by the year 2005 Cyprus will have approached the 30 percent women's participation in all political fora, as foreseen by the Commonwealth.
"We are indeed proud of our modern legislation and the safeguard of the fundamental rights of women in family and labour law," the President said.
A local monastery has won an honorary award from Europa Nostra for its efforts to restore the actual building using the right materials.
The Monastery of Panagia tou Sindi (Virgin Mary of Sindi),in Paphos district, received on October 15, an honorary diploma from Europa Nostra for the "successful maintenance and restoration of the building with the use of the right technical methods and with respect to the maintenance of its original character."