Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cyprus embassador refutes biased WSJ column

The letter below was written by Andreas S. Kakouris, the ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States. It is a response to a ridiculous column published Oct. 9 in the Wall Street Journal by Morton Abramowitz and Henri Barkey in which the authors attempt to blame Cyprus for the 1974 invasion by Turkey.

More than 40,000 Turkish troops continue to occupy nearly 40 percent of Cyprus, preventing 200,000 Greek-Cypriots from returning to their ancestral homeland.

The illegal invasion and occupation has been condemned by the United Nations and many other world bodies. It is one of the main stumbling blocks to Turkey joining the European Union.

As we're finding out once again with the Turkish preparations to attack the Kurds, a U.S. ally in Iraq, Turkey is no friend of the United States.

The Oct. 9 column by Abromowitz and Barkey show how powerful the Turkish lobby is in Washington, D.C., and how successful Turkey is at propaganda. Invade another country, kill its people, occupy its land ... and they blame the invasion on the victims.

Here is Ambassador Kakouris' response from the Oct. 24 edition of The Wall Street Journal:

Turkey's Occupation Is the Cyprus Problem

"Cyprus Sabotage" (Editorials & Opinions, Oct. 9) is loaded with biased selectivity in facts and argumentation. Authors Morton Abramowitz and Henri Barkey fall well wide of the mark both on the reasons for the perpetuation of the Cyprus problem and on future efforts to broker a solution.

The Cyprus problem is an issue of an invasion and continued illegal occupation for over 33 years of 37% of the territory of a sovereign state by 43,000 Turkish troops, resulting in massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The innuendo that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos was able to sway the massive "no" vote against the Annan Plan is insulting to the intelligence of the Greek Cypriots. The reality is that 76% of Greek Cypriots voted against a flawed plan that failed to meet even the most basic concerns and legitimate rights of the Greek Cypriot community. It is also an effort to find a scapegoat for a plan that perpetuated the division of the island. The dogged pursuit of controlling Cyprus through geographic partition into two ethnically distinct parts and securing the "right of intervention" and rights of suzerainty was amply accommodated in the Annan Plan and remains Turkey's policy.

The Annan Plan is in the past. Today's initiative is the July 8, 2006, Agreement and implementation of the process brokered by the United Nations between President Papadopoulos and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. President Papadopoulos is committed to the immediate implementation of this forward-looking process. This agreement is firmly supported by the U.N. Security Council, European capitals and the U.S. administration.

The authors give considerable encouragement to the Turkish insistence of linking her EU obligations concerning Cyprus with her unacceptable demand to end the "economic isolation" of the Turkish occupied area. If there is any isolation, it is solely the consequence of the continued Turkish occupation and nothing more than the attempted political upgrading of the illegal entity in the occupied part of Cyprus. It is a fact that Turkey's difficulties in its relations with the European Union stem from its refusal to meet its obligations, including the restrictions imposed on Cypriot interest vessels and planes. Cyprus's declared support of Turkey's aspirations to join the EU, like others, is conditioned on Turkey's fulfillment of all obligations and commitments to the EU as a whole.

The path to a Cyprus settlement has been laid down in the July 8, 2006, process that will prepare the ground for comprehensive negotiations. It is on this that we should focus our attention and efforts rather than the disingenuous attempt by the authors to link Turkey's political transformation with the fate of elections in Cyprus. Ultimately, the fate of Turkey's political transformation is in its own hands.

Andreas S. Kakouris
Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States

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