President Clerides ready for talks without preconditions

April 30, 1999

In a televised interview on April 27, President Glafcos Clerides said that he expects to see a UN, US and European Union backed initiative on Cyprus "at the beginning of September at the latest."

The President made it quite clear that he is ready to return to the negotiating table, setting no preconditions for talks, and said UN resolutions lay down the terms of such talks. He also stressed the importance of the Republic's accession course for membership of the European Union (EU) and said this must continue.

On the Yugoslav crisis, he backed the return of the refugees to their homes, advocated a peaceful resolution of the problem and the stationing of an international force in Kosovo and stressed that Kosovo must remain within the borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

President Clerides dismissed press suggestions that the UN Security Council has been weakened, in the light of NATO action against Yugoslavia.


Dame Ann Hercus chief of Mission of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus along with the civilian police commander, the chief civil affairs officer and the Force commander held a press conference on April 14, to mark the 35th anniversary since the creation of UNFICYP.

Mrs. Hercus said that the peace-keeping force (UNFICYP) is "not part of the (Cyprus) problem, but part of the solution." Dame Ann said the Force has managed to maintain peace since 1974 but expressed regret because "what has not yet been so successful on Cyprus is the peace-making."

The Force, which numbers 1230 soldiers from 12 countries, was created in the interest of preserving international peace and security through Security Council resolution 186 of March 1964. In her opening remarks Dame Ann said a settlement in Cyprus "cannot be imposed by outsiders."


Cyprus protested to the UN Secretariat threats by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to illegally settle Turkish occupied Varosha (Famagusta) with refugees from Kosovo.

On April 6,two Turkish Cypriot political party leaders strongly criticized threats by their community leader Rauf Denktash that he will bring Albanian refugees from Kosovo to illegally settle in the Turkish-occupied town of Varosha (Famagusta).

On its part the UN confirmed its adherence to Security Council resolution 550 of May 1984 which "considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible."

"We stick by the (UN) principles regarding Varosha, that it should be settled by the people who were there before, so there shouldn't be any new settlement," spokeswoman for the UN peace-keeping in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Sarah Russell told the Cyprus News Agency.

Russell added that UNFICYP is monitoring the situation from its observation posts in the region "as that is what we are there for."

The eastern coastal town of Famagusta, once a thriving tourist resort, has become an abandoned "ghost town" since the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of 37 per cent of the island's territory.

On April 8, the British government has said that any moves by the Turkish Cypriot side to illegally settle Varosha (Famagusta) would harm prospects for a settlement in Cyprus.


The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeev paid a three day visit to Cyprus from April 8 to April 10. During his visit the Russian Minister met with President Clerides with whom he discussed the Cyprus problem, the bilateral relations and the Yugoslav crisis.

Prior his visit, the Russian official said in an interview with Cyprus News Agency that Russia is ready to back any initiative on Cyprus leading to a bicommunal, bizonal federation and believes that the demilitarization of the island would help towards this direction.

He also said that bilateral ties with Cyprus are based on long standing cultural and historical relations and noted increased cooperation in the fields of investment, science, technology and tourism.

Outlining Russia's role in efforts to settle the Cyprus question, Avteyev said Russia "is working for a solution on the basis of UN resolutions and the two high level agreements between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides" in 1977 and 1979. "Russia is ready to discuss the prospect of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with a single international personality and we are ready to back any initiative on this basis," he said.


The Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, represented Cyprus at the third Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers being held in Stuttgart, Germany in mid April.

During the Conference the Foreign Minister put forward a proposal, Cyprus to set up a Euromediterranean Development Bank to promote economic development in the region and a team of experts from Mediterranean countries to deal with illegal immigration.


British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Joyce Quin, visited Cyprus on April 22, accompanied by Britain's special Cyprus envoy, Sir David Hannay to have talks with the Cyprus government as well as with the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on matters relating to efforts to resume the intercommunal dialogue.

In a press conference at the end of her two-day visit to the island, Quin said her aim was "to demonstrate the UK's continuing and active commitment to international efforts to help bring about a comprehensive settlement."

She said that the aim of the international community for Cyprus is to bring about negotiations later this year to address the substance of all aspects without preconditions. Noting there is some common ground between the two sides in Cyprus, she said it is important to get the process going in order to identify the opportunities which do exist. However, she said she cannot guarantee a push will come about for Cyprus.

The UK, she added, is "determined to see a major, sustained effort this year in support of the UN Secretary-General's initiative to secure a just and lasting settlement."

The UN, Quin said, can "continue to count" on Britain's "full exploring the ground both on core issues for a settlement and on measures to reduce tension on the island." She added that "the aim of all Cyprus' friends in the international community is to bring about negotiations until later this year between both sides, under the aegis of the UN, and building on all the work it has already done over the years, in order to secure a comprehensive political settlement."

On his part, Foreign Minister Kasoulides said that Cyprus expects Britain to help in efforts to reach a settlement to the Cyprus problem and believes meetings in Nicosia with British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Joyce Quin, were "constructive".

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said that during her meeting with President Glafcos Clerides today Quin assured the government about Britain's intention to work intensively in efforts to find a Cyprus settlement and that it supports the island's application to join the European Union.

Describing their meeting as "very interesting", Kasoulides said Quin also assured the government about the international community's efforts to secure the resumption of the UN-led peace talks.


The US decided to impose an emergency import restriction on Byzantine material from Cyprus in an effort to protect the island's cultural heritage.

According to a statement by the American Embassy released in Nicosia on April 13, the US "has an emergency import restriction on Byzantine ecclesiastical and ritual ethnological material from Cyprus, unless such material is accompanied by an export permit issued by the Republic of Cyprus."

The decision for the import restriction is the result of a relevant recommendation by the US Cultural Property Advisory Committee, the statement notes.


President Glafcos Clerides said the inscription of the neolithic settlement of Chirokitia in the UNESCO World Heritage List makes Cyprus proud of its cultural and natural heritage. The President was speaking at a ceremony during which he unveiled a commemorative stone to mark UNESCO's decision to include Chirokitia in the World Heritage List.

The President said "we must maintain and protect" this heritage to hand over to our descendants. He said Chirokitia is the third Cypriot site to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Nine Byzantine churches in the Troodos mountain range as well as the mosaics at Kato Paphos and Aphrodite's temple in Palaipaphos are under world protection as they are included in the UNESCO list.

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