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Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on the Cyprus Conflict

April 09, 1990

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. Chairman:)

In accordance with 22 U.S.C. 2373(c), I am submitting to you this bimonthly report on progress toward a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus question.

This report covers the period from January 1 through early March 1990, a period marked by intensive international activity aimed at getting and keeping the intercommunal negotiating process on track. On January 18 I spoke personally with Turkish President Ozal in Washington about the desirability of having an early Cyprus negotiating session under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General, and received President Ozal's assurances of Turkish support. The subject of Cyprus also arose briefly during the U.S. and Soviet Foreign Ministers' meeting in Moscow in early February with both Foreign Minister Shevardnadze and Secretary Baker agreeing on the need to support fully the U.N. Secretary General's "good offices" mission. State Department officials also stressed the need to support a negotiated Cyprus settlement under U.N. aegis to a group of prominent Cypriot parliamentarians who visited Washington in late January.

During this same time period, the U.N. Secretary General invited both Cypriot President George Vassiliou and Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash to New York. After some disagreement about dates, both leaders agreed to begin negotiations under the U.N. Secretary General's auspices in New York on February 26.

The talks opened on that date with a statement by the U.N. Secretary General and continued on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 27 and 28. A final negotiating session was held on Friday afternoon, March 2. The 4 days of talks ended without progress. At the final session on March 2, the U.N. Secretary General summed up the objective of the meetings and their results with these words:

"In line with the mandate entrusted to me by the Security Council and the 1977 and 1979 high-level agreements, the objective of the exercise of good offices is a new constitution for the state of Cyprus that will regulate the relations between the two communities in Cyprus on a federal, bi-communal and bi-zonal basis. In this effort, each community will participate on an equal footing and will also have the opportunity to express separately its consent to the arrangements reached.

"In the course of our discussion, Mr. Denktash stated that the term `communities' be used in a manner that is synonymous with term `peoples', each having a separate right to `self-determination'. Mr. Denktash also proposed certain other terms for the word `communities'. In the context of the intercommunal talks, the introduction of terminology that is different from that used by the Security Council has thus posed more than a semantic problem. Unless acceptable to both sides, any change in terminology could alter the conceptual framework to which all have thus far adhered. In the circumstances, I have come to the conclusion, regrettably, that we face an impasse of a substantive kind, which raises questions regarding the essence of the mandate of good offices given to me by the Security Council and, therefore, regarding the basis of the talks.

"In view of this, I must inform the Security Council of the situation as it exists at present and seek the Council's guidance on how to proceed."

Six days later the U.N. Secretary General sent a report to the United Nations Security Council, a copy of which is enclosed. The report reviewed what had happened and concluded with an appeal that the negotiating process not be allowed to collapse. It also noted that, despite the failure to advance the drafting of an outline of an overall agreement, "a basis for effective negotiations exists provided both leaders are prepared to take into account each other's concerns, and that both are willing to proceed within the framework of the 1977 and 1979 high-level agreements."

The U.N. Security Council considered the U.N. Secretary General's report and on Monday, March 12, unanimously adopted a new resolution, a copy of which is enclosed, which reaffirms the U.N. Secretary General's "good offices" mandate and calls upon the two parties to pursue their efforts to reach a mutually acceptable solution. Each of the two Cypriot communities has expressed its satisfaction with the Security Council resolution and has indicated a willingness to resume negotiations under U.N. auspices.

The United States, which worked to ensure a strong, effective Security Council resolution, will now work diligently in the months ahead to ensure that the intercommunal negotiations are restarted and the process of developing an agreed outline for a solution is completed. In this context we believe that each community must have the right separately to determine whether a given set of arrangements meets its essential interests. We fully support the U.N. Secretary General's mandate, which does not accept that an alternative outcome is independence for either community, partition of Cyprus, or the establishment of formal links between either community and some other state.

Achievement of a negotiated settlement to the Cyprus dispute remains a matter of priority for me and my Administration as a whole. In that connection, the White House announced on February 21, 1990, my nomination of Special Cyprus Coordinator Nelson C. Ledsky for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure in that position, subject, of course, to the advice and consent of the Senate.


George Bush

Note: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Claiborne Pell, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

George Bush, Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on the Cyprus Conflict Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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