UN Cyprus talks start of December 3

November 30, 1999

The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced on 13 November that proximity talks on Cyprus would start on 3 December with the aim to reach a comprehensive settlement to the long-standing Cyprus problem. The UN Secretary General welcomed the acceptance by both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides for proximity talks and said that now he was looking forward to welcoming them for what he expected would be substantive talks.

Mr. Kofi Annan said in a statement issued on 14 November that he had spoken with President Clerides who had agreed to start proximity talks in New York on 3 December, in order to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement. Mr. Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader had also agreed to start proximity talks in New York.

President Glafcos Clerides upon his arrival in Turkey on November 17 to participate in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation) Summit said that he had assurances from the US that there would be direct peace talks on the key aspects of the Cyprus question and said the talks were set to last for quite some time. The President said the talks would still be on during the Helsinki European Union summit (10-12 December) and added that progress in the Cyprus question by that date was one but not the sole precondition for Greece to agree to Turkey's demand for candidate status in its accession course.

President Clerides explained during a press conference on 19 November in Constantinople that the proximity talks to start on 3 December differ from any previous talks because this time, apart from the three main protagonists (the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides and the UN Secretary General), other important states were engaged. President Clerides said the side which proves to be unwilling to reach a settlement will have to pay the political cost, noting that this time round the US, Europe and international organizations are displaying keen interest in Cyprus.

Speaking before departing to New York for the talks the President avoided expressing optimism saying that he would go to New York for discussions and expected to see if there would be any response. "There is a hardening of the Turkish position", he said, "but there is also an international interest which says that this problem must be solved".


Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides attended on 18 and 19 November the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), held in Constantinople, Turkey. President Clerides is the first President of the Republic of Cyprus to set foot in Turkey since its troops invaded and occupied the island's northern part.

Commenting on his stay in Turkey, President Clerides said the atmosphere was friendly and he was treated as the head of state. The President refuted Turkish claims that he should not be addressed as "President of Cyprus" in that he does not represent the Turkish Cypriot community, stressing that "the president of a country does not represent communities but the state." The international community, he added, recognizes only the Republic of Cyprus whereas the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey.

The President expressed his deep sorrow and condolences to all those who lost relatives and friends during the earthquakes in Turkey and said he intends to propose to the Cyprus House of Representatives to offer help to the earthquake victims.


In an interview with CNA (Cyprus News Agency), outgoing UNFICYP Commander Major General Evergisto Arturo de Vergara said that increased interest and engagement at the top political level by the international community in the Cyprus question now offers much better prospects for a settlement.

The Force Commander, who concludes his term in office in mid-December, also said a proposal put forward by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides for demilitarization, which he considers to be a political issue, has not even been taken up by his force or dealt with in his dealings with the two sides on the island. He pointed to the "peaceful environment" that has prevailed on the island as an additional reality which has helped to lead the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to the negotiating table in New York. As a word of advice, Major General de Vergara has called on the two sides to negotiate, compromise and sacrifice, if they really have the political will for peace.

"In life you have a lot of opportunities and it is up to the human beings to take them up or leave them. Now the opportunity is much bigger and this is the real time to move forward," de Vergara, told CNA. He noted the "top political level" of engagement in Cyprus as well as the keen interest the world community shows in the peace effort and wondered "who else can be engaged?"

Invited to assess his term in office, he stressed that his task is "to keep a peaceful environment for the politicians to talk and reach a settlement."

"I think I have accomplished that task, now I see the politicians will meet and talk, this is why I came here," he said, expressing at the same time satisfaction that all his soldiers, some 6-7000 who have served in the past three years, return home safe and well. "They too deserve credit for my achievement," he added.

He said his term in office here has "enriched him a lot, especially from the military point of view" and noted that commanding the British contingent did not cause any problems even if his country was at war with Britain in the 1970s. "We are all soldiers but when fighting you do not have to hate, we must not get trapped by the past, we cannot change it," he concluded.

De Vergara leaves Cyprus in mid-December and heads for Argentina.


In a message on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, President Clerides reaffirmed the government's support to efforts for "establishing peace, security, stability and economic prosperity throughout the region of the Middle East as a whole" and pledges that Cyprus will help in any way it can. The President says thesigning of the Sharm-al-Sheihk Memorandum in September 1999 "demonstrates that the Palestinians are genuinely dedicated to a peaceful solution and their devotion to it has not dissipated".

"On our part," President Clerides says, "we profess our readiness to contribute in any way feasible to peace and in bringing the people of the entire area closer together". He also points out that Cyprus has palpably and conscientiously been involved with the multilateral track of the peace process.

"Through our participation we aim at promoting the dialogue among the peoples of the Middle East and at ameliorating their living and economic conditions," he adds. The President says "the fact that Cyprus is fully determined to implement a programme of Economic Assistance to the Palestinians testifies to our commitment to the peace process and the prevailing of peace, justice and economic prosperity throughout the Middle East".


Cyprus aims at fulfilling the obligations emanating from its membership in Eurocontrol Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation and its forthcoming accession to the European Union, Minister of Communications and Works Averof Neophytou said during a Seminar on Global Navigation Satellite Systems held on 25 November in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Addressing the Seminar Minister Neophytou noted that that "although small in size Cyprus has been assigned the responsibility for the management of a large Flight Information Region", adding that "Cyprus has to solve the problems of interface between the European and the neighboring regions".

He said "particular and meticulous attention is paid to the provision of safe, reliable and timely Air Traffic Control Services within the Nicosia Flight Information Region." The Cypriot minister added under the guidance of Eurocontrol technical expertise the system of double radar coverage provided over the whole of Nicosia FIR has just been expanded to provide additional coverage reaching beyond the limits of the FIR and in some areas giving triple coverage.

Furthermore, Neophytou underlined that "we are continuing to invest heavily in upgrading existing and purchasing new navigational aids." He announced that two new air traffic control towers are under construction at the airports of Larnaca and Paphos and a new Area Control Centre fully equipped with modern and up-to-date equipment is planned to be built in the near future. The minister noted that Cyprus has faced successfully and solved all problems expected to arise from the year 2000 rollover. "These measures for the provision of air navigation services would no doubt be more effective if they were not hampered by the results of the Turkish invasion and the continued occupation of the northern part of the island" said Neophytou, adding that since the Turkish invasion in 1974 the Turkish authorities withdrew all kinds of communication and cooperation with Cyprus.


In a communique, issued on 22 November after talks in Athens between President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Premier Costas Simitis, the two leaders welcome a statement by American President Bill Clinton made during his visit to Greece that the status quo in Cyprus is unacceptable.

The two governments describe December's European Union Helsinki summit as a milestone and say they are in constant consultation to serve the best interests of the two countries. The communique says the two leaders exchanged views on the Cyprus question and underlined that conditions are critical, taking into consideration the start of bicommunal negotiations in New York, the recent OSCE summit in Constantinople, the visit to Athens by the US President and the EU summit taking place in Finland December 10-11.

It adds that a "positive assessment" was made at the meeting regarding the OSCE summit, the meetings the two leaders had on the summit sidelines with EU member state leaders and the UN Secretary-General "who underlined that the negotiations on the Cyprus issue will be substantive".

"It was ascertained that President Clinton's statements on the Cyprus question, especially his emphasis that the status quo on the island is unacceptable, are in the right direction," the statement says. "We expect the above comments to be translated into concrete results," it adds. The American President had made the statement during a speech in Athens.

The two governments "handle developments, with the Helsinki summit as a milestone, in understanding and full cooperation, within the framework of a common political approach, to serve the interests of the two countries."

The communique says the Greek Premier assured President Clerides "of Greece's full solidarity in view of the New York talks, underlining the country's position as a guarantor power and as a country with a moral and national interest in the fate of Cypriot Hellenism."

"The two sides agreed that the talks must be substantive", the communique says, adding that "it was also underlined that the talks must have as a basis the UN Security Council decisions and are carried out according to the call by the G8".

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros and Cyprus' ambassador to Athens Christodoulos Pashiardes took part in the Athens talks.


The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference, taking place in Rome, on 20 November, unanimously elected Cyprus as a member of its Council, representing the European group.

The Council comprises representatives of 49 member nations, elected by the Conference for three-year terms, and is the interim governing body of FAO between sessions of the Conference.

Cyprus' term begins on 1 January 2001 and creates increased responsibilities for the Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, according to an official announcement.

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