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US House members blame Turkish side for failure of Cyprus talks
2003-03-14 17:41:56

by Demetris Apokis -- Washington, Mar 14 (CNA) -- Members of the US House of Representatives have blamed Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Turkey for the failure of the UN-led Cyprus peace talks in The Hague earlier this week.

At the same time, they praised Cyprus Pesident Tassos Papadopoulos' stance at the talks and called on the US administration to redouble its efforts to persuade Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to work constructively within the UN process to achieve a settlement in Cyprus.|

Speaking before the House, Congressman Mike Bilirakis said ''responsibility for this unfortunate setback in the peace process rests largely with one man, Mr. Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, who rejected UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan to end the 29-year division of Cyprus.''

''A large share of the blame also rests with the Turkish military and hard-line nationalists in Ankara, who maintained the illegal Turkish military occupation of Cyprus since Turkish troops invaded the island in 1974. If the government of Turkey were sincere about setting the Cyprus problem, they could have put the necessary pressure on Mr. Denktash to say yes to the UN plan.''

Bilirakis praised Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos ''for stressing the Greek Cypriot side will continue the efforts for reaching a solution to the Cyprus question both before and after Cyprus joins the EU.''

Congressman Robert Andrews joined Bilirakis ''in his expression of dismay that this very hopeful effort has apparently been sidetracked'' and expressed hope the UN Congress ''could urge Mr. Denktash and his Turkish military sponsors to reconsider this decision.''

''It is a tragedy that the voices of the Turkish Cypriots have been silenced by the short-term decision by Mr. Denktash and by his military sponsors'', who ''were unwilling to let the voice of the Turkish Cypriot people determine their own fate,'' Andrews pointed out.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney expressed deep disappointment for the failure of the talks ''which ended without an agreement due to the intransigence of Mr. Denktash.''

''We are faced with failure because Mr. Rauf Denktash has denied Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to determine their own failure and to vote in a referendum which would have likely lead to a solution of the Cyprus problem,'' he added.

Maloney urged the government of Turkey ''to take constructive steps for resolving the Cyprus problem'' and the American administration ''to continue with its efforts to persuade Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader to work within the UN process to end the division of Cyprus.

Congressman Frank Pallone expressed ''extreme disappointment with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for his unwillingness to compromise.''

''Let there be no doubt that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is to blame for this sorry conclusion,'' he noted and added that ''the Turkish government also bears the blame for the developments after giving its full support to Denktash.''

''Both the Turkish government and Denktash refused to listen to the thousands who have taken to the streets over the last couple of months in the occupied section of Cyprus and voiced support for a solution based on the UN plan,'' Pallone said.

He warned that ''Turkey's accession to the EU was seriously undermined with the failure of a peace agreement.''

Pallone expressed the belief that ''the Bush administration did not put enough pressure on the Turkish government to force Denktash to negotiate in good faith''.

He stressed that the Bush administration ''must redouble its efforts to persuade Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader to work constructively within the UN process to achieve a negotiated settlement to end the division of Cyprus.''

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

CNA/DA/MK/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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