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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-03-06

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Hercus: Proud to be a woman
  • [02] Greek- American leader - US aid - Cyprus
  • [03] Simitis - Cyprus - Turkey
  • [04] Hercus - Women's Day

  • 1130:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Hercus: Proud to be a woman

    by Myria Antoniadou

    Nicosia, Mar 6 (CNA) -- UN Resident Representative Dame Ann Hercus has expressed full support for meetings between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and at the same time pointed out that contact between women from the two communities contributes towards having all perspectives on the table.

    Her own "rule of life" is that the best decisions are those taking all perspectives into consideration, whether it is on the local or state level or even UNFICYP itself.

    In an interview with CNA on the occasion of International Women's Day, celebrated March 8, Dame Ann also underlined that women's rights are part and parcel of human rights, dismissing a commonly held view that they are not related.

    The UN Peace-keeping force (UNFICYP) chief, who expresses pride in being a feminist, points out that women are very practical and can do "27 things all at once".

    In her interview, Dame Ann clarified from the start that she would not respond to any questions regarding her efforts to achieve peace in Cyprus nor those related to the status of women here as she cannot yet make "researched comments".

    Dame Ann declares she remains "a devoted feminist, a devoted worker for equal rights of women, for empowering women so that they understand that they have half the world's brains, skills, energy, determination and that we will use that for the betterment of the whole of society."

    "Women are very practical, I think it comes from running our households and raising children," she told CNA.

    Backing her argument she said "we know how to organise our homes so that the laundry, the cooking and the cleaning is done, the children are taken to school and music lessons and their homework is done. We know how to organise 27 things all at once and be in the paid workforce or work for our community in a non-paid sense, in ways I think often men don't know."

    Asked if she believes women have a different perspective to men making their views important, Dame Ann stressed that "the very best decision making is always a synthesis of many points of view, of different perspectives."

    Citing UNFICYP as an example she said "our decision making is the merging of our military, civilian police and civil affairs leadership perspectives", noting that if only one of these perspective is taken into consideration "we will miss out on the others".

    Dame Ann holds the same view for the running of a country. She believes "men and women, while they have many skills in common, their life experiences are often different" therefore a woman's view brings "a different perspective".

    Replying to a question, she said "it is a view very commonly held around the world that women's rights are not human rights, but it is a very incorrect view", pointing out that the UN Charter, one of the fundamental pillars of human rights, refers to equality between men and women.

    Dame Ann has a long history of working for women's rights as she has served as a New Zealand MP, Minister for Welfare, Police and Women's issues, was her country's permanent representative to the UN and a member of the Eminent Persons Group who prepared the 1995 women's conference in Beijing.

    She considers herself "extraordinary lucky" to come from New Zealand, the first country to give women the vote in 1893, a family of very strong women and to be married to a man who believes in equal value and status between the two sexes.

    Asked if she would be willing to share her experiences with Cypriot women, she said that even though she may find the idea attractive "first of all it's not within my mandate and secondly it might be regarded as me not setting my priorities of what I'm actually trying to do here."

    Replying to a question on the importance of women from the two communities coming together, Dame Ann said "the UN Security Council has said quite specifically that it totally supports bicommunal contact and has been very disappointed with any barriers put in front of it."

    To this she added her own view that "bicommunal contact between women has a particular value, not that the others don't", because of their different perspective stemming from their life experiences, which are usually different to men's.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash banned Turkish Cypriot participation in most bicommunal events, because of an European Union decision to start accession talks with Cyprus.

    Dame Ann also said both she and the UN endorse conflict resolution as a skill learning experience and support its teaching in communities, countries or regions, adding that she herself has been involved in teaching conflict resolution.

    Asked about women's participation in parliament, Dame Ann said "it's all very well to sit and say there should be more women" but the question is how.

    "Words are cheap, it's how that matters," she stressed, supporting that "each country has to choose its own how because they all have different processes."

    Dame Ann referred to the experience of her home country and said "the trick is to have more women of the same quality as men getting selected to contest the seats, as then you inevitable get more women into parliament."

    She also appeared satisfied with the fact that women have gained much in the past 50 years, but said: "There is an enormous journey still to be undertaken in terms of women and education, health, environment, economic development, politics, the list is endless. The gains of the past teach us that we do have successes and that gives us the faith, the determination and the energy to keep going."

    CNA MA/GP/1999

    [02] Greek- American leader - US aid - Cyprus

    Nicosia, Mar 6 (CNA) -- "It is now time for the international community, led by the US, to use the momentum created by Cyprus' recent extraordinary initiatives for peace and call on Turkey to bring an end to its illegal division and occupation of Cyprus."

    This was stated by Greek-American leader Andrew Manatos, President of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes, in a testimony submitted to the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.

    Manatos was invited to testify on behalf of a number of Greek-American organisations before this key subcommittee, which is preparing a legislation to determine how much military and economic aid the United States will send to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey in fiscal year 2000.

    The Greek-American leader said "over the almost 25 year history of the Cyprus issue, the Cyprus government has made sacrifice after sacrifice in the interest of peace, while Turkey has become more intransigent with each year."

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

    Manatos told the subcommittee "it is the sovereign right of Cyprus, as it is of any nation, to defend its people and land. The cancellation of the defensive S300 missiles, ordered to protect the island from illegal, provocative Turkish overflights, was a major sacrifice."

    He said the US, as well as the UN and the EU, "must now do all in their power to move Turkey to comply (as is called for in UN Security Council resolution 1218) with actions that will lead to an end to the division of Cyprus."

    The Greek-American leader said Turkey should refrain from the threat or use of force or violence, accept a process aimed at limiting and then substantially reducing the level of all troops and armaments on Cyprus, implement measures aimed at reducing tensions and contribute to progress on the core aspects of a comprehensive Cyprus settlement.

    Subcommittee members were reminded of President Clinton's pledge for "wholehearted support" of the US for this effort and the US would take "all necessary steps to support a sustained effort to implement Security Council resolution 1218 of December 1998.

    CNA GP/1999

    [03] Simitis - Cyprus - Turkey

    Nicosia, Mar 6 (CNA) -- Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis has warned that Greece will respond decisively in any Turkish offensive against Cyprus.

    Simitis' warning was set out during a parliamentary debate in Athens yesterday.

    "Greece will remain resolute by the side of Cyprus. For our country, the Cyprus problem constitutes a high priority national issue and any aggressive act by Turkey against Cyprus will be met by Greece's immediate and decisive response," Simitis warned.

    He said Greece's determination to defend Cyprus is reflected in the joint defence pact agreed upon by the governments of Cyprus and Greece in November 1993.

    He said within the framework of this pact, the Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles will be deployed in the southern Greek island of Crete.

    The anti-aircraft missiles were to be deployed in Cyprus. President Glafcos Clerides, with the Athens agreement, decided in December 1998 not to bring the missiles to Cyprus and instead to negotiate their deployment to Crete with Moscow. Russian has not objected to this change.

    Regarding Cyprus' course to enter the European Union as a full member, Simitis told the Greek Parliament that his government "had and has the responsibility to secure the full and equal membership of Cyprus with the EU."

    He said this development would constitute "Cyprus' best and most effective defence capability, acting as a catalyst for a just solution to the Cyprus problem, in accordance with the UN resolutions."

    CNA GP/1999

    [04] Hercus - Women's Day

    Nicosia, Mar 6 CNA) -- "The great driving force of the last 50 years in the landscape of the international women's movement has been the drive to empower women", UN Resident Representative in Cyprus, Dame Ann Hercus, stressed today.

    Speaking at an event organised by the UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) to celebrate March 8, Dame Ann said that "from the day of its birth, the UN has fought for the equal rights of women" adding that UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, "is totally committed to the advancement of women".

    Hercus talked about the different problems and challenges women have faced through the years and remarked that "it is only since the introduction of basic maternity services, and new birth control techniques, this century, that we have become the stronger sex".

    Referring to equal opportunities in education she pointed out that, "our goal is to fight for the right for girl children round the world, to have the same access to education as boy children, and to increase the educational opportunities for both".

    The UN Resident Representative also highlighted the problem of family violence, pointing out that it has for centuries "been the crime behind closed doors" and it is only recently that a growing number of countries consider it a criminal offence.

    There are basic barriers to change, she remarked, pointing out that "the most difficult barrier, are attitudes of the mind. Prejudice, wherever it exists, racial prejudice, religious prejudice, prejudice against women, is always unacceptable and wrong," she stressed.

    "The journey is not over. There are so many more challenges for women, " the UN Resident Representative, concluded.

    CNA MEM/MCH/1999
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