PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRESIDENT GLAFCOS CLERIDES
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 07, 2000
Question: Mr. President, I asked the other day the Secretary-General who is responsible for the deadlock but he didn’t answer my question. In your opinion who is responsible for the lack of progress in Cyprus?
President Clerides: In my opinion the other side is responsible. In so far it has not negotiated. It has taken the attitude that first there must be what they call a “leveling” and then negotiate.
Question: The Turkish side is insisting on a confederal state or a separate state. The Greek Cypriot side adamantly refuses to accept this. As far as I can see there are two extreme positions. How common ground maybe found and go to more substantive negotiations?
President Clerides: Let me first correct an expression you have used. That there is a “Turkish Cyprus” and a “Greek Cyprus”. There is neither. There is the island of Cyprus in which two communities live. One, the Greek Cypriot community and the other the Turkish Cypriot community. In addition to those two communities there are another three smaller communities or religious groups as they call them, which are the Armenians, the Maronites and the Latins. Now all these people inhabit the island of Cyprus. Cyprus was a British colony, the independence came and the sovereignty of the British passed on to the Republic of Cyprus. Now, all the Security Council resolutions speak of a bicommunal, bizonal federal solution with one single sovereignty, one single international personality and citizenship. These are the parameters which the Security Council in a number of resolutions has set for the solution of the Cyprus problem. We have time and time again declared our willingness to negotiate within those parameters. The other side despite the fact that there was a High Level Agreement that the solution must be based on a bizonal, bicommunal federal republic, now demands not a bicommunal, bizonal federal republic but confederation. In other words two separate states with some loose connection in the middle. That is the fact and those are the correct facts. Now, it is I think essential, that the Security Council which has given the terms of reference to the Secretary-General - if the attitude of the other side continues - to speak.
Question: Cyprus is often cited by critics as a failure of UN peacekeeping while others call it a success UN peacekeeping since hostilities have not resumed. How do you view it and if it is a success, how can it be a success without having achieved a resolution?
President Clerides: When we talk about the Cyprus problem there are two things. One is the peacekeeping and the other is the peacemaking. If one was going to say what has failed one would have said the peacemaking has failed because rounds of several negotiations have taken place and there’s been no result, no agreement, as to the solution of the problem. The peacekeeping generally speaking had been successful, it had been useful in the sense that any tension which arose between the two sides did not escalate because of the intervention of the peacekeeping force. There were incidents which occurred along the dividing line, along the line defining the cease-fire agreement and those incidents did not escalate because of the intervention of the peacekeeping force. Now recently, however, there has been a disappointment in the peacekeeping force because there was an area in Cyprus called “Strovilia” which under the cease-fire agreement was placed in the control of the peacekeeping force and there has been, as it has been described by the UN, a very serious violation of that area by the Turkish forces and that the situation so far has not been restored to the position that existed before the violation of that area by the Turkish forces. This is an example of one, at least, let us say failure. But generally speaking it has been a useful force.
Question: Yesterday the Foreign Minister Mr. Kasoulides said that he does not expect the US to force Turkey to go out of Cyprus. If we don’t expect the US to do something concrete who else can help?
President Clerides: Actually I should not talk about the US because the peacekeeping force is not a force which is entrusted to the US. It is a decision of the Security Council. It is the Security Council who decided the composition of the force, who is the commander of the force, what weapons the force will have and therefore, one may say, a situation which must be examined by the Security Council and not by a single member of the Security Council. It’s a collective decision.
Question: Has the Helsinki decision about Turkey helped the negotiating process for the solution of the Cyprus problem?
President Clerides: I think that it has been proved useful in a certain way. That the Europeans in the past were blaming Greece for the objection Greece raised for Turkey to become an applicant country. The move which Greece made had two advantages. The one that it proved that it was not Greece that prevented it, the second is that it has been stated that the solution of the Cyprus problem it is not a necessary precondition in order that Cyprus should enter the EU. Those two things are very useful.
Now, there is a question of course that it may even become useful in the solution of the Cyprus problem depending on what the Europeans will do in the near future when they are discussing the partnership agreement with Turkey. Depending on what it will contain, one may say that yes it can be proved a useful thing.
Question: It looks like the rapprochement between Turkey and Greece has not reflected itself on the Cyprus problem. Why you think it has been like that?
President Clerides: Obviously in a problem, any negotiations require a better climate within which to be conducted. In this case both Greece and Turkey were and are involved in the Cyprus problem and an amelioration of their relations creates a better environment within which to negotiate. But one does not expect that this thing alone is sufficient to solve the Cyprus problem. It can contribute to a better climate, a better understanding within which a solution could be negotiated. It is not a very strong link at the moment. They are discussing secondary issues, they have not come into grasp with the main issues which separate Greece and Turkey, which constitute a problem between Greece and Turkey.
Question: If the current round of negotiations is a continuation of the deadlock do you envisage a different approach in any way?
President Clerides: This is a matter which of course would be decided, if this round of talks proves ineffective because of the attitude of the other side. A serious consideration, consultations obviously will take place with the national council of the Republic of Cyprus, with the Greek government, and of course with other countries, members of the Security Council. But if the innuendo is “will we change from a negotiated settlement to some other form of settlement which will not be through negotiations” then the answer must be no.
Question: When you say other approach is going to be taken for consideration what do you mean?
President Clerides: Certainly it is not an intention to lead the situation to a conflict, to an armed conflict if you like.
Question: You’ve been involved in the issue for many years the same is Denktash. Aren’t you tired coming here and meeting in Geneva, since the question is going nowhere? Do you really expect, realistically that this coming round will bring something? You are as adamant and so is Denktash. Mr. Denktash says he wants a confederation but the other side puts nothing on the table. How do you get out of the deadlock?
President Clerides: I’ve already answered your question. That it is for the Security Council to see what can be done with regard to its resolutions. Do we throw them in the waste paper basket and say they don’t exist and therefore let Mr. Denktash continue to say “I want that and I am not negotiating.” This is a very serious matter which I’m sure the Security Council will have to reflect on, if that continues.
Question: How do you think the internal turmoil in the Turkish side effects the negotiations?
President Clerides: The internal turmoil of course is for 2-3 reasons. The latest reason is because of the economic situation which is happened in that area and which as a result 7 banks declared bankruptcy. About 30,000 investors have lost their money and another factor is the unemployment which exists on the other side. The other factor is the fact that there is no future. They also look over the fence and look at our side and they see that the per capita income is going up. It is now 15,000 USD per capita per annum and on the other side is 30-40. We have no unemployment, we employ under contract 40,000 people from all over the world and the Turkish Cypriots have no work and they can’t cross and work on our side with the same terms and conditions with the Greek Cypriots and of course that causes quite a lot of trouble because of the lack of employment, the economic situation and the frustration that they see no future.
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