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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-31

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Two Britons living in Cyprus awarded OBEs
  • [02] Cyprus in 1997

  • 1330:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Two Britons living in Cyprus awarded OBEs

    Nicosia, Dec 31 (CNA) -- Two British nationals living in Cyprus have been awarded OBEs by Queen Elizabeth II, in her New Year's Honours list, the British High Commission here announced today.

    Dr Helen Soteriou has been awarded the OBE in recognition of her distinguished medical career and her untiring work in the field of cancer, in both Britain and Cyprus.

    Dr Claire Palley, who is well known in Cyprus for her work on constitutional affairs, has been awarded the OBE in recognition of her contribution to human rights work.

    Dr Palley has been the UK representative on the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities since 1988.

    CNA MA/GP/1997

    [02] Cyprus in 1997

    by Myria Antoniadou

    Nicosia, Dec 31 (CNA) -- 1997 was the year when the international community made unprecedented efforts to solve the 23-year-old Cyprus problem, even though its interest and two rounds of direct talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides this summer did not manage to break the deadlock.

    The UN, which has sponsored negotiations for a Cyprus settlement since the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of 37 percent of the island's territory, stepped up its efforts this year with the appointment of former Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Diego Cordovez, as Secretary-General's special advisor on Cyprus.

    At the same time, several foreign governments and international organisations appointed special envoys, who followed developments in Cyprus and visited the island for meetings with the two sides.

    An event that marked 1997 and is considered determining in developments next year was the confirmation by the European Union (EU) of its decision to start accession talks with the Cyprus Republic on March 30, 1998.

    The only concrete move achieved this year was an agreement between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, on July 31, to move forward the missing persons issue.

    In a UN-sponsored meeting in Nicosia, they decided to exchange information on the location of graves of missing persons, by the end of September, and arrange for the return of remains.

    Even though the Greek Cypriot side kept to the deadline and informed the UN it is ready to hand over the information the Turkish Cypriot side asked for more time.

    A dialogue on security issues was also announced in 1997, in parallel with military talks on a package of measures aimed at reducing tension on the island.

    However, only one, though unproductive, meeting between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on security issues took place, while the military talks are still continuing.

    One issue that raised much discussion this year was a government decision taken in January to buy the Russian-made anti-aircraft missile system S-300.

    The government expressed readiness not to deploy the S-300 surface-to- air missiles expected in mid-1998 if progress is achieved towards a Cyprus settlement. At the same time it defended its legitimate right to build the Republic's defences.

    Its decision prompted an angry reaction from both Denktash and Ankara, while foreign governments and organisations, including the US, Britain and the UN, expressed disagreement.

    Hopes that the stalemate in Cyprus could to some extent be overcome were raised this June, when the US President announced the appointment of Richard Holbrooke as his emissary for Cyprus.

    Holbrooke, the architect of the Bosnian deal, met several times with the leaders of the two communities and visited the island in November this year.

    He met separately with the two leaders and hosted a joint lunch. The US envoy stated no major breakthrough was achieved but he learnt more about their positions.

    On many occasions this year, US President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the settlement of the Cyprus issues is a top priority for the US.

    The US is expected to actively support renewed UN efforts, set for next year, to reach a settlement in Cyprus.

    UN efforts are scheduled to begin in March 1998, immediately after the presidential elections to be held in the Republic in February, with a visit by Cordovez.

    Announcing that "open-ended" negotiations will begin during a visit in November, Diego Cordovez, warned that international interest to settle the Cyprus problem would die away if no progress was made.

    Cordovez chaired two rounds of Cyprus peace talks this summer, the first in Troutbeck, US, in July, and the second in Glion, Switzerland, in August.

    Opening the US talks, the UN chief reiterated his resolve to work towards a settlement in Cyprus and called on the two sides to agree on a number of suggestions which would help move efforts forward.

    On his appointment in January, Kofi Annan wrote to the leaders of the two communities as well as the governments of Greece and Turkey, expressing readiness to make every effort to reach an overall settlement in Cyprus.

    However, no negotiations were carried out in the summer peace talks because, the Turkish Cypriot side refused to negotiate unless the EU withheld a decision to open accession talks with the Cyprus Republic.

    The Turkish side stepped up opposition to Cyprus' accession after the EU report on enlargement, dubbed "Agenda 2000", was made known in Amsterdam in July. It confirmed that accession talks with Cyprus were to begin in spring 1998.

    The illegal regime in the occupied north and Turkey had agreed to partially integrate the occupied areas into Turkey if the EU went ahead with its decision to open negotiations with Cyprus.

    They claimed the internationally-recognised government of Cyprus could not negotiate on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots and that the Republic could not join the EU before Turkey.

    After the enlargement process was approved at the EU council summit, held in Luxembourg in December, the Turkish side reacted by suspending meetings between the two communities and demanding recognition for the illegal regime in the north.

    The occupation regime suspended most bicommunal events, as from Saturday, December 27. This activity, mainly between organised groups of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, was actively supported this year by the UN and foreign embassies in a bid to help the two communities get to know each other and build confidence.

    Within its efforts to achieve recognition of the illegal "state" unilaterally established in the occupied areas in 1983, Denktash also supported that future talks for a Cyprus settlement must take place between two "states" instead of the leaders of the two communities.

    This position is unacceptable to the Cyprus government that has replied that the UN and other international organisations only recognise one state in Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality.

    Despite the lack of substantial progress this year, 1998 has been described by political analysts as being one of the most determining years for the island's future.

    CNA MA/GP/1997
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