CYPRUS IN PERSPECTIVE-BACKGROUND PAPER
The eastern Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus is currently passing through one of the most important periods in its modern history. Cyprus has just been officially invited to join the European Union. Meanwhile, the United Nations recently introduced a new plan aimed at reuniting the divided nation. These developments, though not directly related, point to a bright future firmly anchored in the West for the people of Cyprus.
CYPRUS?S EU ACCESSION
The Copenhagen European Council?s decision on December 13, 2002, to welcome Cyprus as member of the European Union on May 1, 2004, represents for the people of the Republic of Cyprus a major turning point in its quest for a better future. The process began with Cyprus?s application for membership in July 1990 and was officially launched in March 1998 when Cyprus first entered into negotiations for accession. The accession was an act of political will, supported and endorsed by the people of Cyprus, its media and its democratic institutions.
According to the conclusions of the Copenhagen European Council, Cyprus will be admitted as a new member of the European Union. This will take place irrespective of a settlement of the Cyprus problem. Nevertheless, the European Council confirmed its strong preference for accession to the European Union by a united Cyprus and welcomed the commitment of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots to continue negotiating with the objective of concluding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by February 28, 2003, on the basis of the United Nations Secretary General?s proposals.
Furthermore, the European Council has decided that in the absence of a settlement, the application of the acquis communautaire to the northern occupied part of the island will be suspended, until the Council decides unanimously otherwise.
The Copenhagen European Council?s decision to welcome Cyprus as a member of the European Union was based on the European Commission?s Regular Report on Cyprus?s progress towards accession. The Report was delivered by EC President Romano Prodi before the European Parliament in Brussels on October 9, 2002. The Report noted that Cyprus fulfills the political and economic criteria for EU membership and recommended the conclusion of the accession negotiations by the end of 2002 with the aim of signing the Accession Treaty in spring 2003.
Following the historic decision on enlargement adopted by the Copenhagen European Council, the Accession Treaty is now scheduled to be signed by the new member countries, including Cyprus, in Athens (during the Greek Presidency of the EU) in April 2003. Formal accession is expected on May 1, 2004.
Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, following the Copenhagen Summit, said that the confidence that EU membership provides will enable the government to take bold steps in the coming weeks to solve the Cyprus question. President Clerides also promised that the government will defend the rights of the Turkish Cypriot community.
The accession of Cyprus would provide important benefits to the EU and the US. Cyprus is a key ally in the global war against terrorism from a strategically crucial location in the Mediterranean. Having signed and implemented all twelve International Conventions/Protocols pertaining to international terrorism, Cyprus is a reliable partner against terrorists and their sources of financing.
Cyprus has proven to be a model of democracy and modern economic empowerment in the region. Cyprus can serve as a catalyst for improved regional stability and progressive democratic tenets ? only 40 miles offshore from the Middle East.
With the sixth largest merchant marine fleet in the world, Cyprus is a nautical center and a key trading partner to the EU. With the 16th highest per-capita income in the world, (measured in PPP), Cyprus has a strong, stable economy and currency, and a favorable business climate that solidifies its ability to serve as the EU?s commercial gateway at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
The educated population, strategic location and advanced infrastructure of Cyprus make it a front-runner as the EU?s major commercial telecom and high-tech hub in a region where many countries lack a solid 21st century technology platform.
The accession process can be an incentive for a just and durable settlement of the Cyprus problem, as noted by US, EU and UN officials, all currently involved in an intensified effort to achieve this objective and help ease regional tensions Cyprus will enrich the EU cultural heritage with 10,000 years of civilization and its rich and varied cultural treasures including Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Byzantine, French, Venetian, Ottoman and British influences. For more information on Cyprus and EU expansion, go to: http://www.cyprus-eu.org.cy/
THE CYPRUS PROBLEM
For the past 28 years, Cyprus has endured the illegal military occupation of 37 percent of its territory by the Turkish military forces, in violation of a number of UN Security Council resolutions. But Cyprus remains committed to achieving a peaceful resolution of this tragic problem through negotiations.
On July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, and to this day continues to maintain more than 30,000 heavily armed troops in the occupied territory. Nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots, who fell victim to a policy of ethnic cleansing, were forcibly evicted from their homes and became refugees in their own country. Almost 1,500 Greek Cypriots, including four Americans of Cypriot descent, have been missing since 1974; the remains of another Cypriot American were found and identified in 1997, following an investigation mandated by the U.S. Congress.
In 1983, in flagrant violation of international law and the treaties establishing the Republic of Cyprus, guaranteeing its independence and territorial integrity, Ankara promoted a ?unilateral declaration of independence? in the area under its military occupation. The US Government and the UN Security Council condemned the declaration and attempted secession. To date, no other country in the world except Turkey has recognized the so-called ?Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.?
Since 1974, a series of UN General Assembly resolutions and binding Security Council decisions calling, inter alia, for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Republic of Cyprus, for the return of the refugees to their homes in safety and respect for their independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Cyprus, have yet to be implemented by Turkey, which has illegally occupied 37% of the Republic?s sovereign territory and keeps the country and its people forcibly divided since 1974.
In 1999 the Security Council reaffirmed that, ?a Cyprus settlement must be based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded and comprising two politically equal communities as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation and that such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession?. These parameters have been reiterated by the Security Council on several occasions.
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus accepts these parameters as the basis for negotiations leading to the reunification of the island. However, Rauf Denktash, the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community, backed by Ankara, continues to insist on intransigent and unacceptable demands for two separate sovereign states, a position that is contrary to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
In the hope of halting Cyprus? EU accession process, Turkey continues to threaten to annex the occupied area, provoking a major crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean in the event of Cyprus?s accession without a settlement. This hostile attitude has been criticized by the EU and others as jeopardizing Turkey?s own efforts for closer relations with the European Union.
In his address to the 57th session of the UN General Assembly, Cyprus?s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides echoed the dominant theme of this year?s debate in the Assembly ? full compliance with Security Council Resolutions.
Mr. Kasoulides called upon Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership ?to heed the call of the international community and abandon their unacceptable policy of division and communal segregation,?? and ?take advantage of the window of opportunity that is now available for the achievement of a just and viable settlement to the Cyprus problem, based on Security Council Resolutions, which represent the verdict and collective wisdom of the international community.?
In a landmark decision on May 10, 2001, the European Court of Human Rights found Turkey responsible for continuing violations of human rights, emphasizing that the Republic of Cyprus is the sole legitimate government of Cyprus and pointing out that Turkey is engaged in unlawful policies and actions as an illegal occupation regime.
Despite the hardships and trauma caused by the ongoing Turkish occupation, Cyprus has registered remarkable economic growth, and the people living in the Governmentcontrolled areas enjoy one of the world?s highest standards of living. In fact, the per capita income in the Government-controlled areas is more than four times greater than in the Turkish-occupied areas. Sadly, the people living in the occupied area continue to be mired in poverty, a result of the policies pursued by the Turkish Cypriot leadership and the occupying power, Turkey. Their prospects would be considerably brighter under a reunited Cyprus firmly anchored to Europe.
For more information on the Cyprus problem, go to the Government of Cyprus Press and Information Office at: http://www.pio.gov.cy/cyissue/index.htm
THE UNITED NATIONS PLAN FOR A COMPREHENSIVE SETTLEMENT
On November 11, 2002, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented a peace plan for Cyprus, saying that he hoped his blueprint could provide a basis for agreement on a comprehensive settlement, and expressing hope that it would be possible to bring the effort to a decisive conclusion in a matter of weeks (in time for the Copenhagen EU summit).
President Clerides promptly and within the timeframe that the UN Secretary General requested, announced that the Greek Cypriot side would accept the UN plan as a basis for negotiations to unite the divided island. After a delay of three weeks, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash responded to the UN Secretary General (following pressure from Ankara) that he would accept the plan as a basis for negotiations. Immediately after, however, he made statements rejecting the plan and criticizing the UN for undue pressure.
Following observations to the Plan submitted by both sides, the UN Secretary General?s Representative held intensive Proximity Talks and on December 10, 2002, submitted a Revised Plan taking into account some of the concerns from both sides. Efforts to achieve a breakthrough at the Copenhagen European Council were not successful because of an utterly negative stance on the part of Mr. Denktash, who rejected the Revised Plan.
On December 18, 2002, the UN Secretary General?s Representative informed the members of the UN Security Council on the negotiations that have taken place in recent months between President Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Rauf Denktash. In a Press Statement released after the meeting, the President of the Security Council stated that the members had expressed the view that the proposal put forward by the UNSG on November 11 as revised on December 10 offered a unique opportunity to reach a settlement in the near future. Furthermore, they regretted that the Turkish Cypriot leadership had not responded in a timely way to the initiatives of the UNSG, and they called for its constructive efforts to reach a settlement in conformity with the timetable proposed by the UNSG.
In an unprecedented development, thousands of Turkish Cypriot demonstrators took to the streets of occupied Nicosia over the past few weeks to express their disappointment with Mr. Denktash?s stance and to urge him to cooperate with the UN process. A number of Turkish Cypriot politicians and organizations have also demanded Mr. Denktash?s resignation. Polls show a substantial majority of Turkish Cypriots favor a Cyprus settlement and EU membership.
While accepting the UN plan as a basis for negotiations, officials of the Republic of Cyprus believe that the plan can be improved in various ways to the benefit of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. The Governments of Cyprus and the U.S. have long accepted the basic framework of previous UN resolutions, which call for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single sovereignty. Mr. Denktash continues to insist on his untenable and internationally unacceptable plan for two sovereign nations on the island.
United Nations-sponsored negotiations have been ongoing in an effort to resolve the 28-year division of Cyprus under the framework of UN Security Council resolutions. Face to face discussions between President Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, resumed on January 15, 2003. For the full text of the revised UN Peace Plan, go to: http://www.pio.gov.cy/other/revised_un_plan.pdf
A GROWING PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE, STABILITY AND PROSPERITY
The US Ambassador to Cyprus, Michael Klosson, speaking on September 30, 2002, in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, outlined the major U.S. priorities with regard to Cyprus, which include support for Cyprus?s accession to the European Union; promoting stronger counter-terrorism cooperation; building on law enforcement cooperation; and building stronger commercial business ties. Substantial progress in many of these areas has already been made.
On September 18, 2002, the US-Cyprus Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty became effective as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman and Cyprus?s Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides exchanged instruments of ratification at a ceremony in New York. The Treaty will promote closer coordination between the two countries in the fight against global terrorism, organized crime, drug-trafficking and related violent crimes.
Immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Cyprus was among the first nations to express its solidarity with the US. Cyprus has taken many concrete and active steps to target the perpetrators, collaborators and financers of terrorism. For example, Cyprus has granted blanket clearance for U.S. military aircraft to fly over Cyprus and to use its airports, and is sharing intelligence with and providing legal assistance to various U.S. agencies.
Cyprus has also introduced tough new criminal laws and regulations to deter and punish terrorists and their supporters, taken measures to freeze terrorist assets and increased security measures at seaports and airports and at the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Nicosia.
Cyprus has also endorsed and implemented UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) that freezes the assets of terrorists and their supporters, and implemented all other relevant resolutions and decisions of the UN Security Council, the EU and other international organizations, and ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
Cyprus has ratified or acceded to all twelve International Conventions pertaining to international terrorism, as well as the relevant conventions of the Council of Europe.
At a July 16, 2002, State Department ceremony, the US and Cyprus signed a Memorandum of Understanding to protect certain categories of pre-Classical and Classical archeological material from Cyprus. Under the agreement, these materials may not enter the US unless accompanied by an export permit issued by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Given Cyprus?s rich archeological heritage going back millennia, this agreement offers the opportunity for the US and Cyprus to cooperate in protecting some of the world?s most ancient and most precious archeological treasures.
Cyprus and the United States have much in common. Both countries achieved their independence from Britain, and commemorate the anniversary of that independence as their national holiday. Like the United States, Cyprus today maintains close relations with Britain, and English is widely spoken.
Cyprus and the US also share a deep and abiding commitment to democracy, human rights, free markets, and the ideal and practice of equal justice under law.
? The relationship between Cyprus and the United States is strong and enduring. The people of Cyprus appreciate the leadership that America has shown in trying to end the division of Cyprus and bring about reunification. At the same time, the people of Cyprus stand with the American people and share in the firm resolve to uphold the ideals of freedom, justice and democracy threatened by the forces of international terrorism.
For more information on bilateral relations between the governments of Cyprus and the United States, go to the Embassy of Cyprus in Washington, D.C. website at: http://www.cyprusembassy.net or the U.S. State Department website section on Cyprus at: http://www.state.gov/p/eur/ci/cy
CYPRUS AND THE US CONGRESS
The US Congress has on a number of occasions adopted resolutions stating that the status quo in Cyprus is unacceptable, and calling for international efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem on the basis of international law. Administrations of both political parties have worked in support of the UN peace process.
Every year, on or about July 20, Members of Congress rise to remember the anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in what has become one of the proudest traditions in the House of Representatives.
During the 107th Congress, five Resolutions regarding Cyprus were introduced in both the House and the Senate. House Concurrent Resolution 164 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 122 expressed the sense of Congress that security, reconciliation, and prosperity for all Cypriots can be best achieved within the context of membership in the European Union. House Concurrent Resolution 269 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 28 called for a United States effort to end restrictions on the freedoms and human rights of the enclaved people in the occupied area of Cyprus. Finally, House Resolution 2707 sought ?To restrict United States assistance of any kind to Turkey until Turkey uses its influence with the Turkish Cypriot leadership to achieve a settlement on Cyprus based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions?.
House Concurrent Resolution 164 (Cyprus ? European Union) was introduced by Congressman Michael Bilirakis (Republican Florida) and had 85 cosponsors. It was amended by voice vote in the House Subcommittee on Europe and forwarded to the House Committee on International Relations. Senate Concurrent Resolution 28 (Enclaved) was introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe (Republican, Maine) and had 15 cosponsors. It was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. House Concurrent Resolution 269 (Enclaved) was introduced by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican, Florida) and had 39 cosponsors. It was referred to the House Committee on International Relations. House Resolution 2707 was introduced by Congressman Donald Payne (Democrat, New Jersey) and was referred to the House Committee on International Relations.
The United States Senate on November 18 approved, by unanimous consent, Senate Concurrent Resolution 122, which was introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe. The Resolution endorses the accession of Cyprus to the EU and calls for the reunification of Cyprus.
The Senate resolution recognizes
that ?membership in the European Union will guarantee each citizen of the Republic of Cyprus important legal, civil and human rights, as well as the means and legal recourse necessary to secure the full application of these fundamental individual rights, and to promote the respect of cultural diversity and traditions.?
The Senate Resolution further states that ?the European Union will bring significant benefits to both Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, including new economic opportunities, access to new markets, a freer exchange of goods and services, balanced and sustainable development as well as the free flow of persons, goods, and services and capital.?
The Senate resolution follows the conclusions of the 1999 EU Summit in Helsinki that clearly stated that a solution to the division of Cyprus resulting from Turkey?s illegal military occupation in 1974 is not a precondition for EU admission. Republic of Cyprus