President Clerides on Cyprus problem
before the Middle East Forum in New York

April 28, 2000

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides speaking on April 7 before the Middle East Forum in New York on the “Cyprus problem: an update” said that the impasse in the Cyprus problem will be broken only if the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash changed his position for recognition of his illegal regime and negotiates during the next round of the UN-sponsored talks on Cyprus. He further said that he could not report any progress so far on Cyprus and called on Turkey and Mr. Denktash to abide by the G8 statement for unconditional talks.

In his speech, President Clerides referred to the several attempts in the past to solve the Cyprus problem but to no avail. Commenting on Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit’s statement that " the only way to solve the Cyprus problem was to land forces to Cyprus" he said "this did not produce any solution but rather complicated considerably the issues". This is obvious he added since many Greek Cypriots became refugees in their country, there is a presence of a Turkish army across the island while it also created an economic disparity between the Greek Cypriots in the south and the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied areas.

The President cited Turkey's influence over the Turkish Cypriot side while also referred to the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979 which provide the guidelines to a solution of the problem calling for a bicommunal, bizonal federal system of administration and later on was expressed in Security Council resolutions which set the parameters for the solution, namely an independent Cyprus state with a single sovereignty, one international identity with a bicommunal structure and one citizenship.

However, in recent years Mr. Denktash supported by Turkey "went beyond the provisions of UN resolutions" demanding the creation of a confederal state on the island, President Clerides told the gathering. "We are not going to recognize the breakaway state and as far as the international community, they made it clear to Mr. Denktash that they have no intention of recognizing his breakaway state," the President stressed.

Analyzing the difference in these negotiations conducted currently for a settlement, Mr. Clerides said "the new elements are that first the USA has shown an increased interest in resolving the Cyprus question and the second thing, he added, was the island's application to join the European Union. Cyprus is now among the first group of countries which are negotiating accession. "The EU has taken an interest because it would much prefer the Cyprus problem to be solved than to accept Cyprus without a solution to the problem."

The third element, he added, is that Greece withdrew its objections to Turkey becoming an applicant EU country. In return EU countries stated that it should no longer be a precondition for a solution to the problem before it is accepted in the EU. The President also referred to the improvement of the Greco-Turkish relations.

The negative things about the new situation, Mr. Clerides said, is that neither Turkey nor Mr. Denktash has shown any intention, to negotiate. The two rounds of the proximity talks, he said, have not produce any results. A third round of talks is scheduled for May 23.

Mr. Denktash and Ankara will "have to be persuaded to follow the resolution of the G8 that all the issues are on the table, negotiations will take place on all substantive issues of the problem," the President said.

Concluding, the Cypriot President said at the moment "I cannot report progress, I cannot say the impasse will not be broken. I can keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best." 



On the occasion of the opening of four Cypriot Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 4, President Clerides addressed an official gathering during a formal dinner at the Museum.

President Clerides in his speech said that "the presence of such a large number of artifacts spanning almost three thousand years of a history, whose origins can be traced to 7000 BC, is a testament to the disproportionate importance of a small island in its contribution to the cultural heritage of mankind".

He described the Cypriot artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum as "one of the most important collections of Cypriot artifacts that are found outside the island" and that "it was thanks to this collection that the Metropolitan Museum was established as a major museum in the United States".

He also reiterated the government's determination "to investigate the fate and pursue the return of every object of our heritage removed illegally from the northern third of the Republic under Turkish occupation since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island, "to their legal owners".

The President said that his government, "in recognition of the importance of this exhibition, offered four objects of the prehistoric period on a long-term loan for display in these galleries" and that "in return, the Metropolitan Museum will give on loan to the Cyprus Museum four sculptures from the Cesnola collection".

He also welcomed the US decision of April 1999 to impose an emergency import restriction on Byzantine, ecclesiastical and ritual ethnological material from Cyprus, unless accompanied by an export permit issued by the government of Cyprus.

The 600 Cypriot exhibits, stored in the vaults of the Museum, were exported from Cyprus by the then US Consul Luigi Palma de Cesnola, between 1865 and 1876, when Cyprus was under Ottoman occupation. The Cypriot Galleries will host some 600 of the finest works from the Museum's collection, comprising works dating to 2500 BC to about AD 300, which Cesnola removed from Cyprus and were "bought" by the Metropolitan Museum.

Cesnola served as American Consul in Cyprus from 1865 to 1876 and amassed an unrivalled collection of Cypriot antiquities both by excavation and by purchase. In 1879 he was named the Metropolitan Museum's first director, a position he held until his death in 1904.

The priceless collection, about 35,000 objects, was a bone of contention between first Napoleon III of France and then Russian officials. In the end, Cesnola shipped them to London where they were exhibited. It was at this time that the Metropolitan showed an interest in the collection and eventually purchased a significant part of the collection, which remains the most important and comprehensive collection of Cypriot material in the western hemisphere.



A three-day international conference hosted in April by the organization “Seeds for Peace” on “Rewriting the Grammar Coexistence: teaching tolerance in the classroom” in Cyprus, was attended by some 150 Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Moroccan, Tunisian and Qatari, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot educators.

The President and Founder of the organization John Wallach during the opening session of the Conference expressed the hope that the conference will produce a statement of principles. He said "we don't wait for peace to arrive. We show the rest of the world that we can make peace and we can lead".

Vice President and Director of Delegation Leaders of "Seeds of Peace" Barbara Zasloff said "over the past seven years (since the organization was founded) one thousand teenagers and almost one hundred educators have participated in making 'Seeds of Peace' truly unique".

She said "we educators, here today are acknowledging the work and responsibilities we set out for ourselves. We hope that by teaching tolerance we can inspire self respect in our children as well as respect for others who look or dress or speak or pray differently for themselves", she added.

Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Cyprus Vera Jerabkova, who is working to promote bicommunal activities on the island, said "both sides in Cyprus have to commit themselves to learn how to build bridges of mutual understanding, tolerance, peace and love".

US Charge d' Affaires Daniel Russel said "there is nothing more precious than life lived in freedom" and that "peace is the absolutely necessary precondition for that life".



Armenians living in Cyprus commemorated on April 21, the 85th anniversary of the Armenian genocide with various events and the House of Representatives at its plenary session on the 20th of April observed a minute of silence for the victims. Acting House President Avraam Antoniou condemned the genocide against the Armenian people, a civilized people with a long civilization and culture.

Petros Kalaidjian, Armenian representative to the House, pointed out that 85 years after this crime against humanity, nobody has been held accountable for it. Thanking Cyprus and its people for being the first to have recognized the genocide, he said today many other countries have followed suit even though many European countries which took part in the First World War continue not to recognize the crime.

"Our joint bad fate, Cypriots and Armenians, brings us together and we shall continue to fight for justice and equality in the world," he told the House.

The main commemoration event, organized by the Armenian Prelature of Cyprus, took place on the 24th of April , under the auspices of the House President Spyros Kyprianou.

A vigil service, a liturgy and requiem, a photographic exhibition and lectures were also organized.

There are several thousand Armenians living in Cyprus who opted to be part of the Greek Cypriot community when the island gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1960. Some one and a half million Armenians were murdered by the Turks between 24 April 1915 to 1918 and hundreds more were forced to flee their land.



Cyprus plans to spend over 600 million pounds in the coming decade to harmonize its institutions relating to the environment with European Union regulations, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Costas Themistocleous said.

He also said Cyprus will work very hard to ensure that environmental issues do not get in the way of the country's accession course, adding that for the first time, Cyprus is going to get EU funds for its pre-accession process.

Speaking on April 22 at a press conference on the occasion of "Earth Day", Mr. Themistocleous said "Cyprus has a long way to go in our harmonization effort relating to environmental issues", noting that in the past such matters were not top priority in Cyprus.

"We have time to proceed with harmonization with the acquis communautaire so that environmental issues do not cause problems in EU membership," he said.

The minister said more effort needs to be made in the control of pollution, the use of mud in agriculture and dealing with waste materials.

Themistocleous said Cyprus needs to update its legislation and strengthen administrative and technological infrastructure.


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