The Week Ahead: Cyprus to play host to the Queen and Commonwealth

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The Independent Online
ALTHOUGH it has many British visitors, traditionally Cyprus has not been a holiday resort for English monarchs. Queen Elizabeth will be the first to visit the island since Richard the Lionheart, in the 12th century, when she arrives today for a Commonwealth summit.

Richard gave English tourists a bad name when he defeated and imprisoned the Byzantine ruler, Isaac Comnenos. The Queen's visit, too, has been embroiled in controversy. Angered by the decision of the local council in Nicosia to award the Queen the key to the city, protesters have erected a gallows in Eleftheria (Freedom) square with a sign saying 'Killer Queen'.

It points to the resentment many Greek Cypriots feel for the former colonial power, as much because of Britain's attitude to the Turkish invasion in 1974 as because of the struggle for independence of the 1950s, Cypriots and foreign diplomats say. Britain hanged nine men in 1955 as its army tried to keep control of the strategic Mediterranean island and Eoka guerrillas fought to unify Cyprus with Greece.

The annual Summit of the Commonwealth Heads of Government begins in Cyprus on Thursday, and runs until next Monday. The leaders of the 50 former colonies and dependencies of Britain can expect to receive a warmer welcome than Her Majesty.

In Russia, President Boris Yeltsin - not yet a monarch - has also had his hands full with protesters, albeit of a more violent kind. But he apparently feels secure enough to lift the state of emergency and curfew in Moscow today, as scheduled. The President introduced the clampdown after an armed revolt on 3 October following his battle with parliament.

The lifting of the curfew comes not a moment too soon for Warren Christopher, the US Secretary of State, who will be visiting Moscow from Thursday until Saturday. Mr Christopher will be free to sample the capital's night life.

The Secretary of State is in Russia to discuss the summit between President Bill Clinton and Mr Yeltsin, planned for December. He will also cover the situation in the various 'hot spots' of the former Soviet Union.

In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto should be getting herself out of a hot spot on Tuesday, when the National Assembly is expected to choose her as the new Prime Minister. She will be regaining the post she lost amid allegations of corruption three years ago.

Her Pakistan Peoples' Party says it has support from several independents and smaller parties, giving it a majority in the assembly. Ms Bhutto and her arch-rival (and fellow former PM), Nawaz Sharif, have engaged in an undignified scramble to win the support of independent deputies in national and provincial assemblies. Her victory over Mr Sharif - who played an important role in her earlier dismissal - will be sweet.

Within the European Community, the fuss about frontiers continues. The nine EC countries planning to lift their border controls and allow the free passage of people are to meet in Paris today for talks on their varying states of preparedness to implement the Schengen agreement. The accord excludes Britain, Ireland and Denmark, which opted not to end their frontier checks.

Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg are the trailblazers, saying they are already ready to implement the accord, which is due to go into effect on 1 December or soon after and envisages the ending of border controls, unified regulations on entry, and increased police co-operation. Belgium, in particular, is raring to go. From 1 December Brussels airport will separate passengers into Schengen, non-Schengen EC nations and non-EC channels. Confused? Many other passengers will be too.

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