Cyprus ready to face Y2K

December 31, 1999

The Deputy Permanent Secretary of Finance Andreas Chimarides has announced on 8 December that Cyprus was ready to face Y2K, or Year 2000 problem. He was speaking after a meeting which examined the island's readiness to cope with the Year 2000 problem in which representatives of the vast majority of Cyprus' government departments and organizations participated.

Chimarides expressed satisfaction with the fact that "Cyprus is ready to cope with the Year 2000 problem" and the possible unforeseen incidents which could result from it. Representatives of the government departments, the Police, the National Guard, the Central Bank, the Cyprus Electricity Authority, the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, the Ports Authority participated in the meeting. Also present were representatives of the Cooperative Movement, municipalities and the island's main employers' unions.

According to an official statement, all representatives assured that they have taken all necessary measures to cope with the Y2K problem and that they have prepared contingency plans to face up to unforeseen incidents.


The UN-led proximity talks on Cyprus between President Glafcos Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot Leader Rauf Denktash were held at the UN headquarters from 3 to 14 December during which discussions were focused on the four core issues namely, territory, distribution of powers, security and properties. The opening meeting of the talks was chaired by the UN Secretary-General and next meetings were presided by the S-G's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto. The talks aimed at preparing the ground for meaningful direct negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement.

The UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was hopeful that both President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would attend a new round of proximity talks on the Cyprus problem in January. In a reference to Cyprus, during a press conference on 14 December, the Secretary-General said the talks lasted 12 days and were adjourned for a later date. He said he has invited the parties for more talks in January, adding that there is a new dynamic in the process with the new relation between Europe and Turkey, after the European Union's decision to grant Turkey candidate country status. Annan also noted that he did not give any kind of document to either side.

The Secretary-General said "proximity talks on Cyprus are adjourning today after 12 days during which both parties have engaged very seriously with the whole range of issues that divided them". He noted that all sides have agreed "not to engage in public discussion on the substance of these talks," and added that "the new dynamic between Turkey and the EU and between Greece and Turkey provides a hopeful context in which to continue them (talks)".

Asked to clarify how he sees this dynamic advancing the prospects for a peaceful settlement, Mr. Annan pointed out that the question of whether Turkey would be invited to join the EU or not generated some tensions. "When you are dealing with this sort of crisis in Cyprus, with major players engaged in it, with the guarantor countries of Turkey and Greece, if you are able to remove any tension, any situation that creates tension for the member states you are making progress," he stressed.

"It was in the same spirit that I welcomed the improved relations between Turkey and Greece, an indicator that I hope would also facilitate our search for peace in Cyprus because their improved relations could not but be helpful in our search because we are working closely with them," Annan added.


The European Union leaders announced their final conclusions on 11 December at Helsinki, Finland which included a paragraph on Cyprus and Turkey.

Following is the full text of the relevant paragraphs of the conclusions of the Helsinki EU summit:

" 4. The European Council reaffirms the inclusive nature of
the accession process, which now comprises 13 candidate states
within a single framework. The candidate states are
participating in the accession process on an equal footing.
They must share the values and objectives of the European Union
as set out in the treaties.

In this respect the European Council stresses the principle
of peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with
the United Nations Charter and urges candidate states to make
every effort to resolve any outstanding border disputes and
other related issues. Failing this they should within a
reasonable time bring the dispute to the International Court of

The European Council will review the situation relating to
any outstanding disputes, in particular concerning the
repercussions on the accession process and in order to promote
their settlement through the International Court of Justice, at
the latest by the end of 2004.

Moreover, the European Council recalls that compliance
with the political criteria laid down at the Copenhagen
European Council is a prerequisite for the opening of accession
negotiations and that compliance with all the Copenhagen
criteria is the basis for accession to the Union.....

9. (a) The European Council welcomes the launch of the
talks aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus
problem on 3 December in New York and expresses its strong
support for the UN Secretary-General's efforts to bring the
process to a successful conclusion.

(b) The European Council underlines that a political
settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the
European Union. If no settlement has been reached by the
completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on
accession will be made without the above being a precondition.
In this the Council will take account of all relevant factors.

12. The European Council welcomes recent positive
developments in Turkey as noted in the Commission's progress
report, as well as its intention to continue its reforms
towards complying with the Copenhagen criteria.

Turkey is a candidate state destined to join the Union on
the basis of the same criteria as applied to the other
candidate states. Building on the existing European strategy,
Turkey, like other candidate states, will benefit from a
pre-accession strategy to stimulate and support its reforms.
This will include enhanced political dialogue, with emphasis on
progressing towards fulfilling the political criteria for
accession with particular reference to the issue of human
rights, as well as on the issues referred to in paragraphs 4
and 9 (a).

Turkey will also have the opportunity to participate in
Community programmes and agencies and in meetings between
candidate states and the Union in the context of the accession
process. An accession partnership will be drawn up on the basis
of previous European Council conclusions while containing
priorities on which accession preparations must concentrate in
the light of the political and economic criteria and the
obligations of a member state, combined with a national
programme for the adoption of the acquis.

Appropriate monitoring mechanisms will be established.
With a view to intensifying the harmonization of Turkey's

Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has welcomed the reference to Cyprus in the EU Helsinki summit conclusions as it makes it clear that a settlement to the division of the island is not a precondition for its accession to the Union.


Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides believes the proximity talks held in New York as well as the European Union Helsinki summit have to some extent brought about a change in prospects to settle the Cyprus problem.

On his return on 16 December from the US where he attended the talks, President Clerides confirmed a new round of UN led negotiations will take place late January to clarify the positions put forward by the two sides in New York. The President appeared satisfied with a resolution approved by the UN on the same day renewing the mandate of the peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) as it reconfirms previous resolutions. The UN held separate daily meetings with President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash at its headquarters from December 3 to 14 in a bid to pave the wave for substantive negotiations. Kofi Annan presided some of the meetings while the rest were carried out by his Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.

Asked if he believes the European Council held in Helsinki December 10-11 and the proximity talks changes the prospects in the Cyprus issue, President Clerides said "it brings some changes". The EU summit gave Turkey a candidate status and reconfirmed that Cyprus can join its ranks even if its problem is not settled.

Referring to the proximity talks Clerides said the two sides put forward their positions on all issues, noting however that one side does not know what the other has told the UN. "The dialogue will continue for 10 days in January," he added. Asked if the same procedure will be followed in the second round of talks, President Clerides said "an in-depth examination of the positions expressed by the two sides will take place and they (UN) will ask for clarifications."

Replying to questions, he said the resolution 1283 extending UNFICYP's mandate is a reply to Denktash's allegations that UN resolutions are obsolete. He noted that the resolution reaffirms previous UN resolutions that also refer to a single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship of Cyprus.


On 22 December the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus refused to allow a Greek Cypriot teenager to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays with his enclaved parents in their village in the northeastern of the island.

A spokesperson of the Commission for Humanitarian Affairs told Cyprus News Agency (CAN) that 16-year old Anastasios Xiniatos from Rizokarpaso in the Karpas peninsula was stopped at the check point in Nicosia by the Turkish occupation forces and had to turn back to the government-controlled areas.

Fourteen children crossed to the Turkish-occupied areas yesterday to spend holidays with their enclaved families, carrying presents and candles. The illegal regime refuses to allow boys over 16 and girls over 18 to visit their enclaved families in the Turkish-occupied areas. Out of the 20.000 Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the areas occupied by Turkey after the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island only some 500 still remain there today.

The occupation regime never respected the Vienna III agreement signed by the two sides in 1975 stipulating that the human rights of the enclaved people would be respected.


On 15 December a farewell ceremony was held in Nicosia in honour of the Commander of the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Major-General Evergisto Arturo de Vergara who relinquished his post that same day.

De Vergara of Argentina held the post of UNFICYP Commander since February 1997. According to an UNFICYP statement, in a brief speech at the ceremony which took place at UNFICYP headquarters de Vergara said he had sought to fulfill the Force's role in keeping peace and stability, and to create an environment conducive to a settlement. "Our task has been to keep the peace so that politicians can talk, and now they are talking", he pointed out.

On his part Chief of the UN Mission in Cyprus James Holger thanked de Vergara for "the truly outstanding job he has done" and pointed out "we look forward to the day when this Force will not be needed".

On 22 December Major-General Victory Rana of Nepal assumed command of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), succeeding Major-General Evergisto Arturo de Vergara of Argentina.

Major General Rana enlisted as a cadet in the Nepalese Army in 1966. Born in 1945, he is a graduate of the US Army War College and the German Command and General Staff College as well as the Indian Army Senior Command course. He served as the Inspector-General of the Royal Nepalese Army and was responsible for the planning and conduct of military security for general national elections this year.

Major-General Rana served in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon in 1980-1981 as a military information officer and he was military assistant to the Force Commander in 1989-1990.


Cyprus and Belarus signed on 17 December a bilateral agreement on issues of press and information. The agreement was signed in Minsk, by Cyprus Press and Information Office Director George Hadjisavvas and President of Belarus State Press Committee Mikhail Podgainy.

Speaking at a press conference, Hadjisavvas said the agreement covers the exchange of information on political, economic and cultural issues as well as the exchange of visits by journalists. Hadjisavvas pointed out that the agreement will contribute to the promotion of the friendly relations between the two countries, adding the traditional relations of Cyprus and Belarus are continuously expanding and upgrading in various sectors.


According to an official announcement issued on 20 December, the Council of Ministers approved in its meeting on 16 December the amount of 77 thousand Cyprus pounds to be allotted to 43 Turkish Cypriot students so that they can attend private schools in the areas of the Republic under its control. (One Cyprus pound trades at about 1.75 US dollars). The amount covers the academic year 1999 - 2000 for primary, secondary and higher education.

Some 500 Turkish Cypriots have left the areas of the Republic occupied by Turkey since 1974 and have chosen to live in the government-controlled areas.


Cyprus Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis has told the 3rd Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Seattle that Cyprus has demonstrated the benefits, the challenges, and the Hazards of advancing trade liberalization.

"Our liberal trade regime, underpinned by harmonization with the acquis communautaire and our policy of moving closer to the single European Market, has optimized in certain areas the benefits and has created new opportunities and welfare gains. Problems created in other areas remain under close scrutiny," Rolandis said. He added Cyprus strongly supports the principle that special and differential treatment for developing countries be expanded considerably and that flexibility be provided to enable these countries to address concerns such as food security, rural development and poverty alleviation. Rolandis said Cyprus also supports that due consideration be given to non-trade concerns, especially those related to food safety and the rural environment.

"We simply cannot afford to have rural regions threatened by desertification without interfering, possibly in a non-trade distorting manner, to promote sustainable development and to keep the countryside alive," he noted. Referring to competition and investment Rolandis said Cyprus supports the development of core principles and rules on competition law and policy, and uniform multilateral rules on investment protection. Rolandis noted that the results of the negotiations during the New Millennium Round "should be guided by a spirit of social justice", adding that "the results of the negotiations must be as positive as possible for all WTO members, large of small, developed or developing." He added "without losing sight of the long-term objective of fundamental reform, we should concentrate in this Round on tangible progressive reductions in support and protection as well as improvements in the rules and disciplines".

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