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2003-03-19 18:53:07

THE BREAKDOWN OF CYPRUS PEACE TALKS -- (House of Representatives - March 12, 2003)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Michael Bilirakis) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BILIRAKIS (R-FL). Madam Speaker, it is with a profound sense of disappointment that I rise today to speak about the breakdown of the United Nations-sponsored Cyprus peace talks at the Hague this week.

Responsibility for this unfortunate setback in the peace process rests largely with one man, Mr. Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader who rejected U.N. 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 have maintained the illegal Turkish military occupation of Cyprus since Turkish troops invaded the island in 1974. If the government of Turkey were sincere about settling the Cyprus problem, they could have put the necessary pressure on Mr. Denktash to say yes to the U.N. plan.

In sharp contrast to Mr. Denktash, the newly-elected President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, said yes to a public referendum on the Secretary General's plan. His response is consistent with years of efforts by the government of Cyprus to try to negotiate in good faith to reunify the country, efforts that have been consistently rebuffed by the separatist Turkish Cypriot regime.

The U.N. peace process, which is strongly supported by the United States and the international community has sought to reunite Cyprus as a single sovereign bicommunal federation. With Cyprus poised to join the European Union in May 2004, Secretary General Annan chose to get personally involved in bringing the two sides together, asking the two leaders to put the U.N. plan before their people in a referendum. President Papadopoulos said he was prepared to do so. But, unfortunately, Mr. Denktash was not prepared to agree to put the plan to a referendum. It is a shame that the Secretary General's personal diplomacy was met by this kind of flat-out rejection.

In fact, it is the Turkish-Cypriot community which has held unprecedented public demonstrations in favor of the U.N. plan who will be the major victims of Mr. Denktash's intransigence, cut off from benefits of the EU membership that the rest of the island will enjoy.

Despite this failure, Madam Speaker, I praise President Papadopoulos for stressing that the Greek-Cypriot side will continue the efforts for reaching a solution to the Cyprus question both before and after Cyprus joins the EU.

Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr.Robert Andrews), who has just been fantastic on this issue.

Mr. ANDREWS (D-NJ). Madam Speaker, I thank my friend, the gentleman from Florida, for his enduring leadership in this very important cause. I join him in his expression of dismay that this very hopeful effort has apparently been sidetracked, and I would hope this Congress could urge Mr. Denktash and his Turkish military sponsors to reconsider this decision.

Madam Speaker, I believe that the principal division between the enlightened view of the Greek Cypriots and the regressive view of Mr. Denktash is their willingness to let the people decide their own fate.

In the set of principles articulated by Kofi Annan and the United Nations, there were many concessions made by the Greek Cypriots. There were many difficult decisions that the Greek Cypriot government would have to endure. That regime, because it is democratic, was willing to put that question to the people in the Greek part of Cyprus.

On the other hand, Mr. Denktash and his Turkish military sponsors were unwilling to let the voice of the Turkish Cypriot people determine their own fate. They have raised their voices on the streets and expressed overwhelming popular sentiment for a lawful and humane reunification of Cyprus. 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 Turkish military sponsors.

Madam Speaker, I join the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Bilirakis), who has led us for so many years in this effort in urging Mr. Denktash and the Turkish Government to let the people of the Turkish part of Cyprus speak. Let them act for peace; and I believe we will, in fact, achieve peace.

Mr. BILIRAKIS. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman.


Statement by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) Cyprus
March 13, 2003

Mr. Speaker,

I am deeply disappointed by the failure of the recent talks between President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, which ended yesterday without an agreement due to the intransigence of Mr. Denktash.

We have observed years of intense negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and were hopeful that this round would end in success. As you know, in 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, and to this day continues to maintain an estimated 35,000 heavily armed troops in Cyprus. Nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots, who fell victim to a policy of ethnic cleansing, were forcibly evicted from their homes and became refugees in their own country.

Despite the hardships and trauma caused by the ongoing Turkish occupation, Cyprus has registered remarkable economic growth, and the people living in the Government-controlled areas enjoy one of the world?s highest standards of living. The latest success is the European Council?s invitation to Cyprus to become one of the ten new Member States of the European Union. Sadly, the people living in the occupied area continue to be mired in poverty. We had hoped that a united Cyprus would join the EU.

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

Despite my concerns and disappointment, I appreciate the comments of President Papadopoulos who has stated that the Greek Cypriot side will ?continue the efforts for reaching a solution to the Cyprus question both before and after Cyprus joins the EU.?

I urge the government of Turkey to take constructive steps for resolving the Cyprus problem. And I urge the 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.

At a time when tensions are rising around the world, we must seize every opportunity to achieve peace and stability.

Thank you.

MARCH 13, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor this evening to express my extreme disappointment with Turkish Cypriot Leader Rauf Denktash for his unwillingness to compromise----an action that led to the end of the Cyprus peace negotiations earlier this week.

Yesterday, after some twenty hours of continuous negotiations with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan declared they had reached ?the end of the road.?

Mr. Speaker, let there be no doubt that Turkish-Cypriot leader Denktash is to blame for this sorry conclusion. Yesterday, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said he found it regrettable that ?Mr. Denktash has denied Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to determine their own future and to vote on such a fundamental issue.? Lord David Hannay, Britain?s special envoy for Cyprus, also blamed Denktash when he stated: ?I am sad about it but I do not think that Mr. Denktash left him (Secretary Annan) any alternative.? And finally, in today?s Washington Post, columnist Jim Hoagland writes: ?The defiance of one grumpy old man derailed peace plans put forward by diplomats from the United States and the European Union.....because this grumpster would not see multilateral reason. The stubborn, self-defeating unilateralist I have in mind is Rauf Denktash.?

Despite yesterday?s giant setback, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, stressed the Greek Cypriot side will ?continue the efforts for reaching a solution to the Cyprus question both before and after Cyprus joins the EU.? Furthermore, President Papadopoulos pledged one more time to continue the efforts for a Cyprus settlement that would properly serve the interests of both Cyprus communities.

On the other hand, after the peace talks ended yesterday, Turkish-Cypriot leader Denktash continued his obstructionist actions threatening that if Cyprus accedes to the EU on May 1, 2004 there will be a disaster. He went on to say that talks would be suspended until Turkey joins the European Union.

Mr. Speaker, Turkey?s accession to the European Union was seriously undermined yesterday with the failure of a peace agreement. The Turkish government also bears blame for yesterday?s developments after giving its full support to Denktash. New Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that it was impossible for Turkey to accept the United Nations plan in its current form.

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. The leader of the Republican Turkish Party in Turkey accused both the Turkish government and Denktash for bringing the talks to a deadlock stating: ?Mr. Denktash persuaded Turkey as well. Having the support of the powerful circles in Turkey he influenced the decision-making mechanisms and foiled them. He used the indecisiveness for not taking a serious decision. Not being able to decide, Turkey decided to preserve the status quo.?

Mr. Speaker, I continue to believe that the Bush Administration did not put enough pressure on the Turkish government to force Denktash to negotiate in good faith. Turkey must finally realize that by supporting Denktash?s intransigence it is causing harm to its own long-term interests as a potential full member of the European Union.

After the setback of the UN efforts, 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.

Mr. Speaker, Turkey?s 28-year illegal occupation of 37 percent of Cyprus must come to an end. It is time for all the citizens of Cyprus to be reunified so they may all reap the economic rewards available with the nation?s accession to the European Union.


Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Speaker, last week the world witnessed a tragic setback in the search for a peaceful settlement on the Island of Cyprus. Nearly 30 years after Turkish troops invaded and occupied approximately one-third of the territory of Cyprus, the United Nations' efforts to achieve a negotiated solution appeared to have a real chance for success. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan convened the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to a meeting at the Hague last week, and asked them to agree to hold a democratic vote on the U.N.'s plan to establish a bi-communal federation. The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, speaking for the Greek Cypriot community, agreed to the referendum, despite reservations with the details of the plan. Unfortunately, Mr. Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, rejected it, out-of-hand.

Mr. Denktash's veto of the U.N. peace plan was not only a rejection of the efforts of the world organization, and the interests of its member states, but most importantly, in direct contradiction with the interests of the Turkish Cypriots themselves. This community has recognized that they have the most to gain from reunification, and have strongly supported the U.N. plan, as demonstrated by unprecedented popular expressions of support from within the community. Mr. Denktash has thwarted the will of the people he purports to represent.

The reunification of Cyprus would help to enhance the local and regional stability of this island nation located a little more than a 100 miles from Israel, Lebanon and Syria, to the benefit of all of Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, the U.S., E.U. and the whole world body. Reunification would be a great boon economically to the Turkish Cypriots, as the Greek Cypriot community is about to join the E.U. and command the many political and economic advantages of membership in that cgmmunity. A settlement would have allowed the Turkish Cypriots to join in those benefits. Failure has condemned them to suffer without.

If the civilian and military leaders in Ankara were serious about achieving a negotiated settlement on Cyprus, they could clearly prevail upon Mr. Denktash to deal in good faith. By doing so, Turkey would not only be helping the Turkish Cypriots, but would be acting in its own self-interest, as Turkey's own bid for E.U. membership hinges to a significant degree on its playing a constructive role in ending the division of Cyprus. On March 4th of this year, the E.U. warned Turkey that ``if Cyprus settlement efforts failed, the E.U. would find it very difficult to start accession talks with Turkey'' since Turkey would find itself in the untenable position of not only failing to recognize a member of the E.U.--Turkey still does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus--but also occupying militarily part of E.U. territory.

As in any process of negotiations, both sides have to give up something. The Greek Cypriot side has, over the years, made one concession after another in the search for peace. The most recent plan put forward by Secretary General Annan forced the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to make many difficult decisions. Still, at the end of the day, President Papadopoulos--whowas just recently elected in free and fair elections--was willing to put the Plan before the people in a democratic manner.

On the other hand, Mr. Denktash, who has been in power for three decades, was unwilling to concede on his demand for two separate states--a goal completely contrary to the reunification favored by the people of Cyprus and the entire world community. Mr. Denktash is apparently afraid of what his own people would say when given a chance to express their views at the ballot box.

This latest setback need not be a fatal one for the peace process of Cyprus. President Papadopoulos has left the door wide open to resuming the process of negotiations. After the Hague meeting, President Papadopoulos said that the Greek Cypriot side will ``continue the efforts for reaching a solution to the Cyprus question both before and after Cyprus joins the E.U.'' Furthermore, on his return from the Hague to Cyprus, Mr. Papadopoulos pledged one more time to ``continue the efforts for a Cyprus settlement that would properly serve the interests of both Cyprus communities, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,'' adding that there ``are no last chances'' for a Cyprus solution.

Our State Department has been clear in expressing its disappointment over Mr. Denktash's rejection of the U.N. referendum proposal, and in voicing hope that the process can resume. But now it's time for our government to put the necessary pressure on Mr. Denktash and the government of Turkey to negotiate in good faith and agree to a referendum. Continued obstructionism by Mr. Denktash should trigger coordinated U.N. sanctions against the Turkish Cypriot leader. The new government of Turkey must recognize its share of responsibility in the current stalemate, and show leadership in guiding Mr. Denktash back to the path of peace . If Turkey refuses to accept that responsibility, and Mr. Denktash continues his intransigence, the government of the U.S. must consider those policy prescriptions, of the highest orders, to bring the parties back to the table. The peace of the region, and the well-being of the Cypriot people, are too important to allow Mr. Denktash to destroy all our hopes for peace. END


Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my disappointment about the failure of the latest Cyprus peace talks. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan carefully worked out an acceptable peace plan which represented a compromise approach. The UN peace plan to reunite Cyprus as a single bicommunal federation enjoyed strong support by the United States, the EU, and the wider international community. This plan would have satisfied the interests of both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.

I thus applaud Cypriot President Tapas Papadopolous who accepted the UN proposal and was prepared to submit the plan to a separate referendum on March 30. Moreover, immediately after the failure of the negotiations, Papadopolous announced that the Greek Cypriot side will continue its efforts for reaching a solution to the Cypriot issue within the UN framework.

Likewise, I must express my disappointment to the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash who was unwilling to settle for a compromise and rejected the plan. I join the international outcry at the Turkish side's obstructive attitude and urge Denktash to reconsider his approach. Indeed, the Turkish intransigence hurts first and foremost Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots themselves. The failure of the unification endeavors complicates Ankara's own efforts to join the European Union as the European Commission warned Turkey on March, 11. The Greek Cypriot part of the island is going to join the EU in May 2004 with or without the Turkish Cypriots. Yet without a deal on the Cyprus issue, Turkey will find itself in a position of not recognizing a member of the European Union.

Public demonstrations by the Turkish-Cypriot opposition in favor of the proposal further express clearly who will be the major victims of the failed talks: the Turkish Cypriots who will be excluded from the benefits of EU membership that the Greek Cypriot side will enjoy.

I conclude in expressing my desire that the United States must remain involved in seeking a just and permanent solution to the Cyprus issue. The Bush administration must therefore put more pressure not only on the Turkish Cypriot leader but also on Turkey to cooperate constructively within the UN framework to realize a negotiated settlement on Cyprus.

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