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Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Reporting on the Cyprus Conflict

March 01, 1989

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

In accordance with Public Law 95 - 384, I am submitting to you this bimonthly report on progress toward a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus question.

At this early point in my Administration, let me first reconfirm that the United States has a fundamental interest in assisting the people of Cyprus in the search for a lasting and just settlement. Over the years, American governments have come to appreciate that such a settlement can come only through a process of negotiation that expresses the desires and aspirations of the Cypriot people.

At the same time, there is a legitimate role for outside parties to play in supporting this negotiation process. Under my Administration, we will continue high-level attention to Cyprus. To assure day-to-day senior officer involvement with the issues and provide a point of contact with the Congress, the Department of State created the post of Special Cyprus Coordinator in 1981 and has assigned this responsibility continuously to a policy-level officer since that time.

To provide a basic framework for negotiations between the two communities, the best and most viable approach has been and continues to be the effort led by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Javier Perez de Cuellar. The United Nations has been involved with the Cyprus question for 24 years because the international community has recognized that the United Nations is uniquely placed to deal with the issue. The current Secretary General, Javier Perez de Cuellar, has considerable personal experience with the Cyprus question and a mandate from the U.N. membership to use his good offices to work for a solution. We share this high regard for his patience and abilities, have given him unwavering support, and will continue to do so.

We will take every advantage of opportunities to make constructive contributions to the Secretary General and to the parties. We believe it is important that the parties give full participation to the negotiating process and that the atmosphere between them be improved through contacts and confidence-building measures to help bring the two communities together. We also support efforts to achieve a workable plan for reducing military tensions.

We will continue to develop our long-standing relationships of confidence and respect with both parties to the dispute. The previous Administration also consulted frequently with allies and friends, particularly such interested parties as Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. We plan to pursue such consultations and discussions vigorously.

With specific reference to the most recent 60-day period since the last report on Cyprus, Secretary General Perez de Cuellar continues his efforts to help the Cypriot parties reach a solution to the conflict. As agreed at the November 22 - 23 New York meetings hosted by the Secretary General, the two sides initiated a second round of talks in Nicosia on December 19 with the assistance of the Secretary General's Special Representative, Oscar Camilion. Discussions in Nicosia are continuing and will be followed by another meeting in April with the Secretary General to review progress.

In his latest report to the Security Council on U.N. operations in Cyprus (for the period June 1 through November 30), a copy of which is attached, the Secretary General observed that the talks that began last August mark "the first time in the past quarter of a century that the leaders of the two communities have committed themselves to such a personal and sustained effort to achieve an overall settlement and to endeavor to do this by a specific target date." He continued that a "good working relationship" had developed between the two leaders. The Secretary General also suggested that the two sides should begin exploring "a wide range of options for each of the issues that must be resolved."

Both sides responded to the Secretary General's suggestion with proposals. There are constructive elements in the ideas presented by both parties, and we hope that they will continue to examine new and/or expanded options in a spirit of constructive compromise.

I note that military deconfrontation is the subject of one of the papers presented by the Turkish Cypriot community and that both sides have indicated agreement in principle with the concept.

The Secretary General expressed concern that the "troops of both sides continue to be in dangerous proximity to each other" in Nicosia. Such proximity was the immediate cause of the death of a Turkish Cypriot soldier on December 12, 1988, and a Greek Cypriot National Guardsman on July 31, 1988, both killed by gunfire from the opposite side of the buffer zone. The United Nations is now working with the two parties to achieve some adjustments of military positions in Nicosia to ease this situation. We strongly support this effort as we have supported past efforts to reduce tensions and prevent further serious incidents.

The Secretary General's previous report also commented on the dangers of demonstrations close to the buffer zone. In his most recent report, he states that, in response to the expression of U.N. concerns about these events, the Government of Cyprus has given assurances that "it will in future do whatever is necessary to ensure respect for the status quo in the buffer zone."

As we enter 1989, peoples worldwide are reaching out for the wisdom to forge new understanding with old foes. Experience has given the people of Cyprus an intimate appreciation of the cost of bitterness and enmity. They are now engaged in a difficult negotiation that is the only route to reconciliation and peace. They merit America's continued support and have our most sincere wishes of success in their endeavor.


George Bush

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

George Bush, Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Reporting on the Cyprus Conflict Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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