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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 96-12-16

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <,cy>


  • [01] Rifkind favours military slow down, sees breakthrough in 1997
  • [02] Rifkind discusses security issues
  • [03] Finance Minister to have talks with EU officials
  • [04] Cyprus Stock Exchange
  • [05] Party leader to visit Moscow as Presidential envoy
  • [06] Rifkind puts forward ten elements for Cyprus solution
  • [07] Rifkind departs hopeful for Cyprus solution
  • [08] Cyprus to ask for meeting with new UN Chief
  • [09] Cyprus is promoted in Hong Kong as business centre

  • 1140:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Rifkind favours military slow down, sees breakthrough in 1997

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has called on both sides of the divide in this Eastern Mediterranean island to slow down their militarisation plans.

    He described an ambitious arms purchases programme by the government of the Republic of Cyprus as ''a big step in the wrong direction.''

    The British Secretary reiterated his belief that there is real scope for progress towards a negotiated settlement and that 1997 ought to be the year that sees an important breakthrough.

    Declaring the encouragement he sensed in his meetings so far here, Rifkind called on the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to display a ''similar approach.''

    Speaking after a working breakfast with President Glafcos Clerides here today, Rifkind noted the issue of security has to be a ''component'' in any solution of the protracted Cyprus question.

    ''The prospect for political progress,'' he said, ''cannot be assisted if in the meantime there was further militarisation on the island.

    ''That would be a big step in the wrong direction, a point that has to be understood by all concerned,'' he said and remarked on the ''very large military presence in the north but also the very strong military capability in the south.''

    Turkish troops have been occupying 37 per cent of Cyprus territory since 1974, in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal.

    Rifkind said the amount of military hardware and military personnel on an island the size of Cyprus is ''absurdly and dangerously high'' because that degree of military presence entails the risk of using the military hardware.

    Asked if he urged President Clerides to slow down plans to buy more arms, Rifkind replied ''you can assume that these are points that are relevant to all my discussions and we attach a very great importance to.''

    Invited to outline his position on President Clerides' proposal for Cyprus' complete demilitarisation, the Foreign Secretary said anything that may contribute towards demilitarisation ''would be hugely beneficial but one cannot go from the present situation to zero.''

    ''One recognises the need for some security assurance which will be provided at the military level,'' he noted.

    Describing today's discussions as ''very viable'', Rifkind said he was ''encouraged'' to hear the extent to which the President wishes to see real progress in 1997.

    ''I think there is a real scope for progress but one must acknowledge it will not happen overnight but 1997 ought to be the year that perhaps an important breakthrough is made,'' Rifkind said.

    He said he ''sensed a willingness to address the outstanding problems with the imagination and statesmanship that is a necessary ingredient for progress,'' and expressed the hope that he will see ''a similar approach which could be very encouraging'' and then draw his own conclusions as to what the opportunities are.

    Replying to questions, Rifkind said the presence of the two military bases Britain has retained on the island after the 1960 independence was not on today's agenda.

    The Foreign Secretary welcomed ''the cooperation of the Republic of Cyprus in this matter'' and noted the ''good common understanding'' on the issue.

    CNA MM/GP/1996

    [02] Rifkind discusses security issues

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- Talks between Cyprus and Britain focused on security concerns but also dealt with British involvement in efforts to settle the Cyprus question, Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides said here today.

    Michaelides was speaking after a working breakfast given by President Glafcos Clerides for visiting British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind.

    The Cypriot Minister said during the talks there was no attempt to impose any position on the government but ''Britain's substantive interest was outlined.''

    He said this interest focused on the next moves in anticipation of intensive negotiations.

    He added ''this is an approach rather than an attempt to secure a commitment on our part on one or the other issue.''

    Michaelides said discussions ''covered matters relating to the procedure that has to be followed. We focused on security matters and we talked about the territorial issue, the fundamental freedoms and others.''

    Asked to comment on Rifkind's view that continuing the arms race in Cyprus would be a ''big step in the wrong direction'', Michaelides noted that ''we referred to this but we focused our attention on the solution of the Cyprus question, beginning with the issue of security with particular reference to the effectiveness of an international force on the island.''

    During the discussions, he remarked, it was underlined that Cyprus should not become a place with a huge military machine.

    President Clerides, he added, brought up the issue of the persons listed as missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion and urged Britain to ''use its influence to contribute towards the resolution of this humanitarian issue.''

    The Cypriot President explained that the appointment of a third member to a UN-sponsored committee on missing persons would be a first step to enable movement in the issue, Michaelides said.

    Rifkind's position was that he shared the view that something must be done about this issue and that Britain will do ''all it can in this direction.''

    Asked if Cyprus was ready to negotiate a change in the process of negotiations, Michaelides said there was only one process and added ''the Cyprus question concerns the UN and the solution of the problem is outlined in the UN Security Council.''

    ''We say we are ready to enter the process of substantive negotiations but political reality is such that March would see the substantive contribution and engagement of those who can help a settlement,'' Michaelides explained.

    One cannot expect any substantive US involvement in Cyprus before US President Bill Clinton is sworn in for his second term in office, the Minister added, noting that everybody recognises the need for concerted action.

    ''Britain does not argue in favour of a slow down in efforts but everybody sees it would be better for all those who wish to contribute to a Cyprus solution to act in concert and proceed at a time that suits everybody,'' the Minister said.

    CNA MM/GP/1996

    [03] Finance Minister to have talks with EU officials

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- Cyprus Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou left for Brussels Monday to hold talks tomorrow with European Union (EU) officials.

    Christodoulou heads a Cyprus delegation, which will have talks with EU officials on economic and monetary matters, in the framework of the EU- Cyprus structured dialogue.

    The Cypriot delegation will have meetings with Irish Finance Minister, Ruairi Quinn, whose country holds the current EU presidency, and EU Commissioner on Economic and Financial affairs and Monetary matters, Yves- Thibault De Silguy.

    The Cyprus delegation includes Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou and high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank.

    CNA AP/GP/1996

    [04] Cyprus Stock Exchange

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- The Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) All Share Index closed at today's stock exchange meeting as follows:
    CSE All Share Index                    81.09 (-0.48)
    Sectural Indices
    Banks                                  89.99 (-0.50)
    Approved Investment Companies          74.37 (+0.70)
    Insurance Companies                    55.32 (-1.44)
    Industrial Companies                   83.84 (-0.64)
    Tourist Industries                     70.52 (-1.29)
    Commercial Companies                   61.78 (+2.37)
    Other Companies                        67.37 (-1.23)
    Trading Volume                         CYP 388005.920
    * The difference in brackets represents the percentage increase (+) or decrease (-) of the index from the previous stock exchange meeting.
    CNA GP/1996

    [05] Party leader to visit Moscow as Presidential envoy

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- Main opposition left-wing party AKEL General Secretary Demetris Christofias will act as President Glafcos Clerides' special envoy to Russia, later this month or in January.

    After a meeting with President Clerides on Monday, AKEL leader told the press he will ask to meet Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, later this month or in January, to convey Cyprus government's reply to a Primakov's message.

    Following a visit to Moscow last October, the AKEL General Secretary conveyed a message to President Clerides from the Russian Foreign Minister.

    Christofias described that message ''important'' but he did not refer to its content.

    The AKEL leader described his new mission as ''very serious'' and noted this cannot be used for ''opposition expediencies or political comments.''

    ''I will ask to meet the Russian Foreign Minister, as the President considers it more constructive if I act as his special envoy and convey his message to Primakov,'' Christofias explained but declined to reveal the content of the reply message.

    Christofias replied positively to a question whether the Cyprus government has the will to encourage a more active Russian involvement in efforts to resolve the Cyprus question.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

    CNA AP/GP/1996

    [06] Rifkind puts forward ten elements for Cyprus solution

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has put forward ten elements, which he hopes Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will turn them ''into the provisions of a detailed settlement'' in Cyprus.

    In a press conference at the end of his two-day visit to the island, Rifkind outlined the ten elements, which, as he said, do not form a ''purely British initiative''.

    The first element, he said, is that ''the aim should be a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Cyprus problem which will be based on a bizonal, bi-communal federation, in conformity with the High Level agreements and Security Council resolutions''.

    The second element said ''the federation and its constitution will reflect the principle of political equality of the two communities as defined by the UN Secretary-General''.

    Rifkind noted in his third element that ''the federation will have a single international personality. Its existence and powers will derive from separate referenda in the two communities''.

    In the federation, he stressed in his fourth element, ''there will be no right of partition or secession, nor will there be domination of the federation by either side''.

    ''The security of each of the two communities and of the settlement'', he said in the fifth element, ''will be achieved by means of international guarantees and by such measures of international collective security as may be agreed by the parties''.

    He underlined in the sixth element that ''the boundary of the two federated zones will not conform to the present ceasefire line. The adjustment should contribute to a solution of the problem of refugees''.

    Referring to the negotiations, Rifkind stressed in the seventh element that ''before the end of the first half of 1997, there should be an open- ended session of face-to-face negotiations under the aegis of the UN aimed at securing a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem. The further preparation of these face-to-face negotiations by an intensified process will start early in 1997''.

    However, the British Foreign Secretary emphasised in the eighth element that ''the success of these negotiations will depend on the creation of genuine mutual confidence between the two sides.

    ''It will therefore be important for both sides to encourage steps designed to achieve that and to avoid any such actions which will increase tension over the coming months. In particular they will work to ensure the success of UN efforts on unmanning, unloading and rules of military conduct''.

    Regarding Cyprus' accession to the European Union, Rifkind said in his ninth element that ''EU membership should be of benefit to all the people of the island and the terms of accession will need to take account of the basic interests of each of the two communities''.

    At the same time, he said in his final element that ''the negotiation of the terms of accession of Cyprus to the EU will, if a political settlement can be reached in 1997, be conducted on behalf of the bizonal, bicommunal federation, taking account of the EU's agreement to start such negotiations six months after the conclusion of its Intergovernmental Conference''.

    In his opening statement, Rifkind said the timing of his visit to the island and its purpose ''are no coincidence''.

    He said the international community, in which Britain is an active participant, is seeking to break the log-jam.''

    Rifkind acknowledged that ''1997 provides a genuine opportunity, not least because of the prospect of the opening of accession negotiations with the EU''.

    He stressed that both ''Cypriot communities will need to make compromises if solutions to the issues between them are to be found.'' Rifkind emphasised that Britain ''will do its utmost to assist the UN and the two communities in the search for a comprehensive settlement''.

    However, he said that gaps remain which he does not wish to underestimate and that his ten elements ''offer the best basis for making progress''.

    ''The task that lies ahead, for the leaders of the two communities and for the friends of Cyprus, among which Britain counts itself, is to turn these elements into the provisions of a detailed settlement'', he said.

    Rifkind expressed the hope that ''both leaders will work whole- heartedly and energetically for a settlement in 1997''.

    Turkish troops have been occupying 37 per cent of Cyprus territory since 1974, in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal.

    CNA EC/GP/1996

    [07] Rifkind departs hopeful for Cyprus solution

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind completed his two-day visit to Cyprus hopeful that 1997 could be the year of real progress in efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    During his stay on the divided island, Rifkind had talks with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Earlier today, Rifkind gave a press conference for Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists and foreign correspondents, at the Ledra Palace hotel, situated in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia.

    During the press conference, he outlined ten elements which he believes could form the basis of a detailed settlement in Cyprus. (See earlier CNA story).

    Answering questions, the British Secretary repeated Britain's support to the efforts of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and noted that Britain will be reporting to the UN chief ''our assessment of the situation as we understand it''.

    However, he emphasised that at the end of the day, ''no solution can be imposed on the people of Cyprus. There will only be a solution if Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots both have the will and the determination to reach a solution,'' he said.

    Asked if there was anything which he could interpret as an undertaking from the two leaders they are prepared to move forward, Rifkind clarified that he has expressed ''hope that there is a prospect for real negotiations and progress in 1997 and realism that huge amount of work needs to be done.''

    Both leaders on the island, he said, emphasise ''that 1997 is the year of opportunity.''

    Regarding the way in which powers will be distributed in a settlement, Rifkind pointed out that the ''precise balance of offices, of powers, of relationships within that federal government, is for the negotiation to address.''

    A ''federal government will have to involve power sharing'', he said, noting that both Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots will participate in such a federal government.

    Rifkind welcomed Denktash's statement that a ''successful negotiation will depend on give and take,'' adding ''that is good, that is the right spirit''.

    He said President Clerides and his colleagues are ''also using the terms that implies willingness to be flexible and reasonable if negotiations take place''.

    At the same time, he acknowledged that it does not mean that negotiations are bound to succeed.

    However, he emphasised that what distinguishes Cyprus from many other international areas of great difficulty is that ''in Cyprus both sides already can identify the conclusion that we are trying to work towards.''

    Furthermore, Rifkind said the UK would not wish in any way, to alter the way in which it approaches the (1960) Treaty of Guarantee. ''We fully recognise the importance of that Treaty and our commitments under it'', he said.

    Rifkind repeated an earlier statement that ''at the moment there is a massive military presence on the whole island for such a country and small population. Any build up of weaponry in Cyprus must be a cause for concern''.

    He added anything that would lead to a reduction, is bound to be helpful.''

    Referring to the Turkish occupation forces, Rifkind acknowledged that there are ''very large numbers of Turkish troops on the island, far more than anyone could seriously argue they are necessary for the safety and security of the people in the north.''

    To a question whether Britain will prevent the purchase of the Russian anti-missile system S300 by Cyprus, Rifkind said Britain ''would discourage any increase in the weaponry that is to be held on the island of Cyprus. We believe it would be destabilising, we hope it will not happen.''

    Rifkind repeated that his visit to Denktash was only in the latter's capacity as head of the Turkish community. ''It implies no change with regard to any question of recognition of his administration,'' explained.

    However, he underlined that his decision to make that contact ''was absolutely right and proper, and has not given rise to any serious misunderstandings or problems.

    Asked if there would be no progress in the meantime, would Cyprus and its accession to the EU become hostage to the ''desires and winds of third parties'', Rifkind replied the EU will come to its own judgement in the light of the situation.

    However, he said the ''EU has given a commitment to Cyprus that negotiations will begin no later than six months after the end of the Intergovernmental conference''.

    Furthermore, he said accession talks will begin a year from now, approximately, noting it will be a long process, which will take up to two years.

    Cyprus applied for full membership in 1990. It signed an association agreement with the European Community in 1972 and a customs union agreement in 1987.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory. Since then Turkey has ignored repeated UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of its occupation troops from this East Mediterranean island.

    CNA EC/GP/1996

    [08] Cyprus to ask for meeting with new UN Chief

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- The government of Cyprus will ask for a meeting with the next UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides announced today.

    Career diplomat Kofi Annan, 58, from Ghana, was chosen by the Security Council on Friday to succeed Egypt's Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The UN General Assembly is expected to officially approve Annan's appointment on Tuesday.

    Michaelides noted Annan is a ''personality with a wider respect within the UN.''

    The Foreign Minister added the new UN Chief, currently UN undesecretary- general for peacekeeping operations, is an experienced diplomat in dealing with conflicts and crises because of his involvement in peacekeeping operations.

    CNA AP/GP/1996

    [09] Cyprus is promoted in Hong Kong as business centre

    Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) -- The numerous advantages, which Cyprus offers as an offshore financial and business centre, were presented by an island's top level delegation in Hong Kong early December.

    A Cypriot delegation, headed by the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus, Afxentis Afxentiou, organised between December 2-6 five seminars to enable Hong Kong financial institutions, companies, businessmen and professionals of law and accounting to learn first-hand of the advantages Cyprus offers.

    The Chairman of the Cyprus Ports Authority, a representative of the Ministry of Finance, Members of the Cyprus Bar Association and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants, as well as representatives of Russian offshore banking units and enterprises operating from within Cyprus, joined the Central Bank's delegation.

    While in Hong Kong, the delegation's members had also meetings with representatives of a number of financial institutions, which have already established an offshore presence in Cyprus as well as companies whose applications are currently being dealt by the Central Bank of Cyprus.

    Hong Kong media covered extensively the delegation's activities and explained the advantages which Cyprus can offer to Hong Kong companies which trade with China by using the island's treaty for the avoidance of double taxation with China.

    ''Considering the overall favourable response encountered during the delegation's presence in Hong Kong as well as the satisfactory attendance at the various seminars, the mission to Hong Kong proved to be a most successful event,'' the press release issued here today said.

    It added more Hong Kong enterprises are expected to register in Cyprus as a result of the Central Bank mission.

    CNA AP/GP/1996

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