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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-05-04

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>


CONTENTS

  • [01] Turkish preconditions bloc Cyprus peace process
  • [02] Holbrooke inaugurates bicommunal telephone system
  • [03] US envoy ends Cyprus trip - No breakthrough
  • [04] Absence of dialogue disappoints government

  • 1140:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Turkish preconditions bloc Cyprus peace process

    Nicosia, May 4 (CNA) -- US President's emissary for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, today said two preconditions set by the Turkish Cypriot side could not allow peace negotiations to resume.

    The American emissary reassured of US interest in a Cyprus settlement, adding he would be back when needed and when the two sides ask him to return. He said US State Department Special Cyprus Coordinator Tom Miller would be back end of May.

    Speaking at a press conference before his departure from the island, Holbrooke said the Turkish side wants its conditions for "state-to-state" talks and the withdrawal of Cyprus' application to join the European Union, to be met before addressing the situation here.

    Holbrooke, who arrived Friday for three-day intensive talks with the two sides, described the Turkish claim for the withdrawal of Cyprus' EU application as "not realistic".

    "Presenting these two positions, as conditions precedent to a negotiation, will make progress difficult," Holbrooke said.

    He added "in the current situation the Turkish side does not wish to address those issues (for a Cyprus settlement) until two preconditions or conditions preceding have been met. Therefore meaningful exchange is not possible."

    He pointed out Turkish Cypriots could participate in the EU dialogue, that got underway in Brussels in March, as proposed by President Glafcos Clerides.

    President Clerides' proposal for the Turkish Cypriot side to nominate representatives in the official negotiating team, has been turned down by the Turkish side.

    The US President's emissary reiterated his country's position that EU talks with Cyprus was a correct decision, adding that the EU should not have left Turkey out.

    He expressed the view that the present impasse in a Cyprus settlement is due to the EU's stance towards Ankara.

    Holbrooke pointed out that both sides had to be willing to engage in a genuine give-and-take and make adjustments during negotiations.

    He also said he has reported to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and UN General-Secretary Kofi Annan on his meetings here and stressed he does not consider his trip a failure.

    "I believe there is a solution to the Cyprus problem, but responsibility lies first and foremost to the parties themselves," Holbrooke said.

    The US Emissary, who brokered the Bosnian peace deal, said both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides made it clear that they want the US to pursue efforts for a settlement, under UN aegis, which would lead to a bizonal and bicommunal federation, as stipulated in UN resolutions. (More later)

    CNA MA/GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1240:CYPPRESS:02

    [02] Holbrooke inaugurates bicommunal telephone system

    Nicosia, May 4 (CNA) -- "Communications break down barriers", US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke stressed here today at the inauguration ceremony of an improved telephone connection between the island's Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

    "One would say this isn't the biggest news in the world but I would look at it quite differently. It is big news", said Holbrooke, urging people of the two communities to use the new lines.

    "People like to communicate with one another and with communication as one of the most important elements of understanding and stability in the world, I urge the people of both parts of Cyprus to use these lines to reach out to old friends they haven't conducted and talked to in many years, " the US envoy said.

    Holbrooke said that the project begun in Brussels last November during a meeting between G/C and T/C businessmen and had the full approval of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    "I believe firmly in communications. Communications break down barriers. Let us not minimize the importance of today's step," Holbrooke said.

    UN Resident Representative Gustave Feissel stressed that the new system, fully backed by the US and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees), would increase the annual handling capacity of calls from 100.000 to over 750.000.

    The new automated system, at an estimated cost of 80.000 US dollars, was funded by the US through the UNHCR programme.

    The UN, he said, decided to upgrade the current three line operator assisted connection to 20 automated telephone and fax connection.

    G/C businessman Dinos Lordos and Stein Stowa of the Norvegian Peace Institute demonstrated the new telephone system.

    Lordos called T/C businessman Taker Turgut, who expressed satisfaction with the installation of the automated system.

    Callers will dial a certain number allocated by the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, then hear a dialling tone and dial directly, he said.

    As Feissel explained "for years the UN provided the only phone connection between the northern and the southern part of the island through the UNFICYP switchboard".

    The existing system, which is manually operated, has become overburdened because of increasing demand from both sides and it was unable to cope with it.

    Telephone conversations had to be cut down to ten minutes to cope with the demand as there were hundreds of calls daily.

    Contact between the two sides of Cyprus has been very restricted over the years and things got worse in the past several months when the Turkish Cypriot leader barred all bicommunal events, following a decision by the European Union to start accession negotiations with Cyprus.

    CNA KN/GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1410:CYPPRESS:03

    [03] US envoy ends Cyprus trip - No breakthrough

    Nicosia, May 4 (CNA) -- US Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, ended three days of intensive talks here without a breakthrough in efforts to resume peace negotiations.

    Speaking today at a press conference at the Ledra Palace hotel, in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, before his departure, Holbrooke said that preconditions put forward by the Turkish Cypriot side "make progress difficult."

    Holbrooke, cited an EU (European Union) decision to open accession talks with the Cyprus Republic, but not with Turkey, as one of the reasons of the impasse here. However, he said he does not consider his trip a failure and reassured the US will continue its efforts for a settlement in Cyprus.

    "The purpose of our discussions was to see whether we could start a process that would lead to a bizonal, bicommunal federation, a goal on which both sides, the UN and the US have been publicly committed," Holbrooke said.

    Pointing out that his discussion covered "the entire range of issues related to Cyprus", he said "both sides made it clear that they want the US acting under the UN umbrella to continue its efforts to pursue a Cyprus settlement."

    He added that "peace and stability in this region is a major concern to the US and to all other countries of the region."

    However, Holbrooke said that "if progress is to be made on Cyprus, genuine progress, both sides will have to be willing to engage in a genuine give and take during serious negotiations."

    "This is not the current situation. This was especially true in regard to two positions taken by the Turkish side," he added.

    The American emissary explained that "the Turkish side made clear its view that the Greek side must withdraw its EU application before negotiations could begin and the negotiations must henceforth be on a state- to-state basis."

    The illegal regime unilaterally declared in 1983 in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974 is recognised only by Ankara.

    Asked why he focused his attention on the Turkish side, Holbrooke said "in the current situation the Turkish side does not wish to address those issues until two preconditions or conditions preceding have been met, therefore a meaningful exchange is not possible."

    "But in a meaningful exchange of the sort that we are prepared to assist both sides will have to give and take and I do not wish to leave the impression that all the problems are on one side," he added.

    The US emissary did not wish to elaborate on the positions expressed by the two sides, noting he referred to Denktash's preconditions because they were made public.

    He added that these two preconditions "make a meaningful, substantive exchange extremely difficult at this point."

    "The Turkish side's insistence that the Greek side withdraw EU membership is not a realistic position in our view, we believe the two sides here in Cyprus can and should work out a method by which they can both participate in the EU dialogue as political equals," Holbrooke said.

    Holbrooke welcomed an invitation by President Glafcos Clerides to the Turkish side to nominate representatives in the team that will negotiate with the EU, describing it "the beginning point of resolving that problem."

    "The EU was correct in inviting Cyprus to begin the talks to join the EU and as I said repeatedly that was an invitation to all of Cyprus. And they were wrong not to invite Turkey to begin the process as well and it was that imbalance which I believe has led to the present impasse," he added.

    However, the US emissary expressed certainty a solution to the EU issue is "inevitable" and noted "a joint delegation as part of a negotiated settlement in terms of a bizonal bicommunal federation is entirely possible."

    In Luxembourg last December, the EU decided to open accession talks with Cyprus and five eastern and central European countries. It had also set preconditions for improvement of relations with Turkey, including Ankara's backing of efforts for a Cyprus settlement and improvement of human rights.

    "The US government has made it clear that we believe Turkey is a European nation and should have been allowed to participate in the process, " Holbrooke said.

    He expressed the hope that the EU Cardiff summit, in June, "would be better on the situation vis-a-vis Turkey than Luxembourg was," but clarified "we don't think the two issues ought to be linked."

    Replying to a question by a Turkish journalist who supported that President Glafcos Clerides does not represent all of Cyprus, Holbrooke said that "it is very clear and no one has disputed that Glafcos Clerides does not represent or have control over the people of northern Cyprus. He doesn't deny that, that's a fact."

    Asked how long he is willing to engage himself in this effort, Holbrooke referred to efforts for peace in Ireland and said that Senator George Mitchell had spent 30 months on the problem before putting down his deadline.

    He pointed out that the Cyprus situation has "far more similarities with the Irish negotiations" and said the key ingredients in the Irish process were "continuous US efforts, at the request of the parties" and the leaders there "took tremendous risks".

    Holbrooke reassured that his country "will remain engaged and available to help the parties reach that long overdue solution, which will benefit all the people of Cyprus."

    He announced US State Department Cyprus coordinator Tom Miller would return end of May and pledged that he would return "any time that I can be useful and both sides want me."

    "I don't consider this a crisis or a catastrophe, we came to the island knowing that this would happen. We came anyway because we were asked to come and because the US believes strongly that it has a responsibility. I do not consider this trip a failure. I consider the problems we have encountered part of the process and we will remain committed," Holbrooke added.

    He pointed out that he has reported on his discussions to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is in London, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

    CNA MA/GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1430:CYPPRESS:04

    [04] Absence of dialogue disappoints government

    Nicosia, May 4 (CNA) -- The Cyprus government has expressed disappointment and displeasure because Turkish intransigence led the latest US effort to resume the dialogue to failure.

    "We are disappointed and displeased because due to the intransigence of the Turkish side, unfortunately the effort to resume the intercommunal dialogue with the aim of establishing a bizonal, bicommunal federation as defined by UN resolutions, did not materialise," Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides said here today.

    His comments came after US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke failed to get President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash back to the negotiating table, having held intensive consultations with both men over the weekend.

    Stylianides pointed out "the international community must understand that the Turkish side is exclusively responsible for the lack of progress in efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question."

    The spokesman said Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has already briefed the political leaders about the President's talks with Holbrooke and the National Council will probably meet Friday to discuss developments.

    The Council, comprising party leaders, is the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem.

    Holbrooke himself admitted to the "Washington Post" that "the reason we could not make progress this time around was because the Turkish side has changed its position".

    He also told a press conference here that Denktash demanded recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus and the withdrawal of Cyprus' application for European Union membership, before the resumption of negotiations.

    Holbrooke said the preconditions put forward by the Turkish Cypriot leader "make progress difficult."

    CNA KN/MM/GP/1998
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    CNA ENDS
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