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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 98-02-02

Cyprus Press and Information Office: News Updates in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

News Update

Monday, 02/02/98


CONTENTS

  • [01] US State Department Human Rights report on Cyprus
  • [02] Kasoulides welcomes comments by Van den Broek
  • [03] Robin Cook reiterates that Cyprus' EU application is welcome
  • [04] Turkish Cypriots on pilgrimage in free areas
  • [05] Foreign Trade Statistics
  • [06] Registration of Motor vehicles for 1997


[01] US State Department Human Rights report on Cyprus

According to the US State Department 1997 report on Human Rights Practices, human rights are generally respected in both the government controlled areas of Cyprus and the Turkish occupied part of the island.

It is acknowledged in the report, however, that the living conditions of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the areas occupied by Turkey since its 1974 invasion need to be improved. Although some positive steps to improve their living conditions have been taken, "the treatment of these groups still falls short of Turkish Cypriot obligations under the Vienna III agreement of 1975," the report states.

It is also noted that the UN peace keeping force's (UNFICYP) access to Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the occupied areas "remains limited", despite the fact that the agreement provides for free and unhindered access by UNFICYP.

It says that in the occupied north there are no Greek-language educational facilities beyond elementary level and notes the complaints by Greek Cypriots about lack of access to telephones and the vandalism of Orthodox churches.

Reference is also made to the case of Eleni Foka, a Greek Cypriot teacher in the north. "Foka alleged that she had been mistreated by Turkish Cypriot authorities, and she destroyed her "TRNC" identity card," the report says. "Later, she was denied permission by Turkish Cypriot authorities to travel to the government-controlled area for medical attention unless she renewed her identity card. After several months, Foka was permitted to come to the south for medical treatment, but she has not been able to return to the north. Her case remains under discussion by Greek and Turkish Cypriot authorities."

Regarding the living conditions of Turkish Cypriots in the government controlled areas, it notes that some face difficulties in obtaining identification cards and other government documents.

The report also refers to the December 1996 European Court of Human Rights decision that Turkey had committed a continuing violation of the rights of a Greek Cypriot woman by preventing her from going to her property located in northern Cyprus. The ruling reaffirmed the validity of property deeds issued prior to 1974. The Court also found in this case that "it was obvious from the large number of troops engaged in active duties in northern Cyprus that the Turkish army exercised effective overall control there. In the circumstances of the case, this entailed Turkey's responsibility for the policies and actions of the 'TRNC.'" A hearing by the Court on compensation was held on November 27, and a ruling is expected in 1998, the report says.

In the 16-page extract on Cyprus, the State Department says that "in general the police forces of both sides respect the rule of law, but instances of police abuse of power continued."

It says there were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings, even though it notes that the occupation regime did not conduct a "credible investigation" into the 1996 murder of Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali, who had criticized Turkey's role in the occupied areas.

It adds that there has not been "significant investigations" by the occupation regime into the killing of a Greek Cypriot demonstrator and the beating to death of another, during demonstrations in the UN controlled buffer zone, in 1996.

Regarding freedom of speech and of the press, the State Department says "they are provided by law and are freely practiced throughout the island".

However, it mentions complaints by some Turkish Cypriot journalists about surveillance and intimidation and says the occupation regime has not responded adequately to such allegations.

The State Department report notes that freedom of religion is generally respected in Cyprus and reference is made to reciprocal visits to religious sites by Greek and Turkish Cypriots, after an agreement last April.

The report also mentions the fact that the occupation regime suspended all bicommunal meetings since 27 December 1997.

The report says "multiparty political systems exist throughout Cyprus" and points out that in both communities women face no legal obstacles to participating in the political process, even though they are underrepresented in government.

The State Department appears to be satisfied with respect of workers rights, the right to organise and bargain collectively and other labour issues.

However, it says "a significant percentage of the labour force in the north consists of illegal workers, mainly from Turkey", who, according to some estimates constitute as much as 25 percent of the total labour force in the occupied areas.

[02] Kasoulides welcomes comments by Van den Broek

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides welcomed on 31.1.98 statements by EU External Affairs Commissioner, Hans van den Broek that accession talks with Cyprus will open at the end of March or beginning of April this year.

Kasoulides said reassurances given by van den Broek, "constitute a reply to all who dispute that negotiations will begin..."

The Foreign Minister added van den Broek reiterated similar statements made by both the EU presidency and government representatives of EU member states.

Mr van den Broek also said the EU is committed to its decisions about Cyprus and the Republic can depend on full support from the Union.

[03] Robin Cook reiterates that Cyprus' EU application is welcome

British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook said that Cyprus' application to the European Union is welcome.

Answering questions to the press with his US counterpart Madeleine Albright in London on 31.1.98, Mr Cook also said both Britain and the US are "anxious to find ways to maintain dialogue with Turkey" and wished it would attend the European Conference to be held in London in March. "It is for Turkey itself to decide whether or not it wishes to join us. If it will not then we will be looking at other ways to maintain that political dialogue", he said.

"In the case of Cyprus the position of the EU is clear", he added, stressing that Britain welcomes "the application of Cyprus which has a higher standard of living and a stronger economy than many countries who are aiming the applicant list".

The British Foreign Secretary added that, "from Britain's point of view we have strongly supported the case that Cyprus' application being judged on its merits".

[04] Turkish Cypriots on pilgrimage in free areas

Nearly 1.300 Turkish Cypriot pilgrims crossed the Green Line on Saturday 31.1.98 and visited the Hala Soultan mosque in Larnaca in celebration of Sheker Bayram, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Pilgrims were deeply touched by the visit. For some it was the first time to visit the mosque.

The older Turkish Cypriots noted the mosque was kept in a good condition.

[05] Foreign Trade Statistics

Total imports and exports to and from Cyprus increased in the first nine months of 1997 compared with the same period in 1996.

According to a report from the Department of Statistics and Research for the period January - September 1997, European Union countries absorbed 50,4 percent of domestic exports (excluding shipstores) while they supplied 46,3 percent of total imports.

In the same period total imports valued at 1.419,3 million Cyprus pounds compared with 1.358,9 m in the same period in 1996. (One Cyprus pound is approximately two US dollars)

Total exports were 485,8 m compared with 477,8 m in the corresponding period of 1996.

As a result of the above developments the trade deficit amounted to 933,5 m compared with 881,1 m in January - September 1996.

The EU countries supplied Cyprus with goods valued at 656,9 m pounds compared with 665,0 m in the first nine months of the previous year.

They absorbed 80,4 m Cyprus pounds of Cyprus' domestic exports, followed by the Arab countries with 43,8 m or 27,5 percent.

[06] Registration of Motor vehicles for 1997

According to the Department of Statistics and Research report on "Registration of Motor Vehicles for 1997", the total number of motor vehicles registered decreased from 34.768 in 1996 to 31.857 in 1997, a decline of 8,4 percent.

Private saloon car registrations decreased from 19.189 in 1996 to 19.164 last year, but there was a 28,6 percent rise in the registration of used cars. Used private saloon cars registered in 1997 reached 12.710.

Goods conveyance vehicles decreased from 8.097 in 1996 to 6.284 last year.

There was also a fall in the number of mechanised cycles registered from 5.175 in 1996 to 4.552 in 1997.

Japanese motor vehicles accounted for 67,5 percent of total registrations in 1997, followed by 25,7 percent from European Union countries


From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/


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