UNESCO should act to protect Cyprus' cultural heritage
in the occupied part of Cyprus
October 29, 1999
The Minister of Education and Culture, Ouranios Ioannides, received assurances by UNESCO officials that they will act in protecting the cultural heritage in the Turkish occupied north of the island, neglected and looted as a result of the 1974 invasion.
Addressing the UNESCO General Conference in Paris, Ioannides also repeated the country's commitment to UNESCO and the principles it stands. In his address, Ioannides mentioned that a significant example of the island's collaboration with UNESCO has been the appraisal of the education system in 1997 by a team of experts from the International Institute of Educational Planning, (IIEP) within the framework of the UNESCO Participation Programme.
This resulted with recommendations in the IIEP report and Cyprus putting forward a Plan of Action which is already producing noticeable quantitative and qualitative results. The minister referred to the four Major Areas of the Proposed Programme for the period 1999-2001. Regarding Major Programme I, entitled "Education for all throughout life," Ioannides said it emphasizes once more UNESCO's commitment to the principle of education for all as a key parameter in the promotion of peace and prosperity. Noting that in Cyprus illiteracy has been eradicated, he said that attendance in both primary and secondary education is 100 per cent while approximately 60 per cent of school leavers continue their study beyond the secondary level.
However, Ioannides stressed that the "sacred right to education" has been violated in the occupied areas." The prohibition of the functioning of secondary schools and the censoring and withholding of education material sent by the government to the two remaining elementary schools deprive Greek Cypriot students the inalienable right to education, the Cypriot minister said. There are only 25 Greek Cypriot pupils in schools, as a result of the policy of ethnic cleansing applied in the occupied north since the 1974 Turkish invasion, he added.
The Minister of Education said Cyprus "accords priority to Major Programme III - Cultural Development: The heritage and creativity" and reported the "continuing destruction of the cultural heritage" in the occupied areas noting that "important monuments...which are part of the cultural heritage of mankind are under serious threat, at best neglected and abandoned, more often looted and deliberately destroyed."
In his speech, Ioannides said that Cyprus promotes electronic literacy through the education system and that it is in the process of implementing innovations in the curricula of its science and technology education which are in line with the Declaration and Framework of Action of the Conference. Ioannides paid tribute to outgoing Director General of UNESCO, Federico Mayor and assured his successor of Cyprus' firm support in his difficult task.
UN DAY CELEBRATED IN CYPRUS
The UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Acting Chief of Mission James Holger addressing Greek and Turkish Cypriots attending the last UNFICYP open day of this millennium, said that the wish for peace is "especially strong for those of us who work in peace-keeping missions like UNFICYP." "It is our job to keep and help to foster peace on this island, so that the children of Cyprus can grow up in a safe and peaceful environment. Our children and grandchildren represent the future, the next century, the next millennium," he added.
Children representing the 35 countries from which UNFICYP's international personnel is composed came to Cyprus and held a parade during the event, at the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia. The event also included two concerts, competitions, sport demonstrations, a photo exhibition and a display of works by UNFICYP artists, tents providing information on both the UN and the Force and free snacks prepared by the contingents from various countries.
Referring to the UN Secretary-General's message on the occasion of the UN Day, Holger said Kofi Annan pointed out that "the 20th century has been the most murderous in human history. We must make sure the 21st is more peaceful and more humane." Holger also honored the memory of young Vergina Nikolaides who had fallen from a horse and died during last year's open day.
UNFICYP organized the event to offer the two communities of Cyprus the opportunity to get together.
TIMETABLE FOR CYPRUS TALKS VERY IMPORTANT
The Cyprus Government has expressed concern that the Turkish side is trying to bring the proposed Cyprus peace talks closer to the European Union summit in December, in the hope of securing candidate status for Union accession. The EU Summit will be held on 12 December in Helsinki.
The Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said on October 5 that the government does not have any information about a change in the timetable set for talks, which according to UN resolution 1250 and the G8 summit communique is the autumn. "The timing of the new initiative is very important for us, we do not wish to see this timetable shifted" he said.
Hopes that the UN Secretary-General would invite the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to talks in mid or late October were dashed when Turkey's Premier Bulent Ecevit stood firm on his unacceptable demands for recognition of Ankara's puppet regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus before the resumption of talks. According to press reports the latest Turkish moves seem to indicate that efforts are now directed towards moving the talks nearer 10-11 December (Helsinki summit).
Ankara, snubbed by the EU in 1995 when all other applicant countries were given candidate status, hopes to achieve this objective in Helsinki without having to engage in any give and take over Cyprus.
TURKEY STILL FAR FROM THE COPENHAGEN CRITERIA
The European Parliament has called on Turkey to contribute actively to the search for a settlement in Cyprus on the basis of UN resolutions without jeopardizing European Union - Cyprus accession negotiations. The EU, admitting that Turkey does not fulfill all the political criteria for accession, maintains that it should afford the country candidate status in its December summit. The Parliament said it was necessary to strengthen ties with Turkey but noted it was too early to discuss candidacy status for Turkey.
In a resolution adopted on October 6 by 251 votes in favor, 187 against and 84 abstentions, the Parliament "urged again the Turkish authorities to contribute actively in the search for a political solution of the Cyprus question on the basis of accepting and the implementation of the relevant UN resolutions, without putting into question the membership talks with the EU."
During the discussions, the European Popular Party said Ankara's demand to be afforded candidacy status is untimely because it does not fulfill the Copenhagen criteria, economic and political, to allow membership talks to begin. EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement Guenter Verheugen said Turkey does not meet all the political criteria at present but the EU should help Turkey to move in a steady and irreversible manner towards accession.
THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE STRONGLY URGES TURKEY
TO ABIDE BY ITS DECISIONS
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe strongly urged Turkey in a resolution to comply with a European Court of Human Rights decision calling on Ankara to pay compensation to a Greek Cypriot for continuous violation of her human rights in Cyprus.
The Committee, which met in Strasbourg, adopted on 6 October by 36 votes in favor, one against and one abstention an interim resolution which "strongly urges Turkey to review its position and to pay the just satisfaction awarded in this case in accordance with the conditions set out by the European Court of Human Rights so as to ensure that Turkey, as a high contracting party, meets its obligation under the Convention (European Convention on Human Rights)."
Titina Loizidou, the Greek Cypriot who won her case against Turkey before the Court, told Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that "the decision reaffirms that the system (for protecting human rights) should work and that this same system, which issued the judgement, must implement its own decisions."
Loizidou's lawyer, Achilleas Demetriades, described the decision as "a very important step as it shows that the Committee, in the execution of its duties to oversee the execution of the Court rulings, took this decision which is in fact a strong call on Turkey to review its position to date and comply with the ruling."
"The issue of human rights is very important," Demetriades told CNA, pointing out that "this is the issue that kept Turkey outside the group of candidate countries for accession to the European Union." "It would be rather odd, if now at the December EU summit in Helsinki this issue is not taken into consideration, given that there is tangible proof that Turkey does not comply with the Court decisions," he said.
Turkey now has a reasonable period of time to pay more than 400,000 Cyprus pounds (about 800,000 US dollars set by the Court) to Loizidou for depriving her from enjoying her property in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus.
The Court found Turkey guilty of continuous violation of Loizidou's human rights and said Turkey, by virtue of the presence of its occupation troops in Cyprus, has effective control of the island's northern part. It also dismissed any notion of recognition of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus and said the only legal government on the island is the government of the Republic of Cyprus.
Titina Loizidou, from the Turkish-occupied town of Kyrenia, is one of 200.000 Greek Cypriots forcibly uprooted from their homes and properties by the Turkish invasion troops in 1974. Ankara has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of its troops and colonist settlers from the island's northern part.
HUMAN RIGHTS SEMINAR: FIFTY YEARS OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Opening the seminar "Fifty years of the Council of Europe - Achievements and Prospects in the field of Human Rights" held in Cyprus on 16 October, President Clerides said in a message read by the Minister of Justice Nicos Koshis that "more determination and political will is yet needed so that the universal values and the principles of international law will prevail".
The seminar, organized by the International Association for the Protection of Human Rights in Cyprus and the Directorate of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, was also attended by four Turkish Cypriots, including the President of the T/C Association for the Protection of Human Rights, Hayadi Yasamsal. Elizabeth Palm, Vice President of the European Court of human Rights also participated at the one day meeting.
"The Council of Europe has done a great deal to make the European continent a 'democratic area'," President Clerides said adding "its mission cannot be regarded as accomplished" and "much remains to be done." The Cypriot President noted that "Cyprus, a member of the Council of Europe since its independence, has had very bitter experiences and is still suffering the results of the Turkish invasion and continuing occupation, which constitute a grave breach of the rules and principles of international law including the Human Rights Convention. It is apparent that still exists a large gap between declarations and reality," President Clerides said, adding "in a Europe which is free of division, Cyprus and the drama of its people should not remain a sad exception".
Addressing the seminar, Attorney General Alecos Markides referred to the achievements of the Council of Europe during the first 50 years of existence, noting there still exists room for further progress. Markides noted "the efforts for further improvement will never cease," pointing out "the concept of universality of human rights dictates concern in respect of any human right of anybody in every part of the world."
On his part, President of the International Association for the Protection of Human Rights in Cyprus Dr. Christos Clerides announced that the Council of Europe has approved a project of the association. He said the Council of Europe has given "its full backing and generous financial contribution (to the project) for promoting the dissemination between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots of common language and culture of the European Convention for the Protection o Human Rights as it is interpreted and applied by the Court."
Addressing the seminar, Stefano Valenti, of the Human Rights Awareness Unit of the Directorate of Human Rights, expressed the view that the seminar "will certainly contribute to inform the public on the specificity, I would say the uniqueness, of the Strasbourg 'machinery'."
Around 150 delegates including Cypriot deputies and foreign diplomats took part in the seminar.
CYPRUS' DEMOGRAPHIC REPORT OF 1998
A demographic report for the year 1998 issued by the Department of Statistics and Research estimates the population in the government controlled areas of the Republic at 663.300 at the end of 1998 recording an increase of 0,8% over the previous year. According to the demographic report, it is estimated that 68,9% of the population resides in urban areas while in the rural areas lives 31,1% of the total population.
In 1998 the number of births was 8.879 compared to 9.275 in 1997 whereas the total fertility rate, which gives the mean number of children per woman decreased to 1,92 in 1998 from 2,00 in 1997.
In 1998 the crude death rate was estimated at 8,2 deaths per thousand population and the infant mortality at 7,0 infant deaths per thousand live births.
Life tables for the period 1996-1997 put the expectation of life at birth at 75,0 years for males and 80,0 for females.
In 1998 the number of marriages increased to 7.738 and the crude marriage rate was calculated at 11,7 per thousand population.
The number of divorces was 852 and the crude divorce rate was estimated at 1,3 per 1,000 population at the same levels as in 1997.
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