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CYPRUS UPDATE JANUARY 14, 2003
2003-01-14 14:49:01

No. 1 ? 2003 January 14, 2003

Reunification of Cyprus Supported by U.S. and International Editorial Pages Recent events surrounding the Republic of Cyprus -- from its invitation last month to join the European Union as a full member to the current efforts to use the UN Peace Plan as a basis for negotiation to reunify Cyprus after 28 years of military occupation and forcible division imposed by Turkey ? have resulted in extensive, supportive coverage from U.S. and international editorial pages. The following excerpts are indicative of the growing international desire to see Cyprus reunified.

The New York Times

Excerpts from the editorial ?Ending the Conflict in Cyprus?

January 7, 2003

?The divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus, long contorted by tensions between Turkey and Greece, can look forward to a more promising future if the Turkish Cypriot leadership accepts a United Nations peace plan. Under the plan, already welcomed by the Greek side, a united Cyprus could join the European Union next year. That would benefit Cypriots from both communities and open the way for early Turkish admission to the union. If the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, succeeds in blocking the agreement, the pain and unfairness of Cyprus?s armed partition could be locked in for years to come.

Polls show that an overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriots favors the U.N. plan. Last month tens of thousands of them took to the streets demanding its acceptance. As important, the Turkish political leadership in Ankara on which Mr. Denktash's power ultimately depends is also pressing for a swift negotiated settlement. Unfortunately, Mr. Denktash refuses to get the message. Concerted diplomatic pressure, including Washington?s, is needed to end his destructive opposition.

The obvious basis for a solution is a plan proposed by the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It provides for a loose confederation of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, with the presidency rotating between them and refugees from the 1974 fighting that divided the island eventually being allowed to reclaim their homes or receive compensation. Glafcos Clerides ? has accepted this plan as the basis for a negotiated compromise. But Mr. Denktash remains opposed. The U.N. has a deadline of Feb. 28 for both sides to reach agreement. Mr. Annan's plan may not be perfect, but rejecting it would be a worse alternative for both Cypriot communities. ?

In a welcome change, the leader of Turkey's new ruling party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, forcefully criticized Mr. Denktash last week for ignoring his constituents' desire for a negotiated peace.? * * *

The Washington Post

Excerpts from an Op-ed by Richard C. Holbrooke ?Europe's Chance for Trifecta? November 29, 2002

??the United Nations has put forward a detailed proposal for Cyprus: a single international state with two self-governing zones. While the details are not acceptable to either side, it does form a useful starting point for negotiations, as the Greeks have indicated privately.

But to the powerful Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, everything is personal. An old and embittered man who has fought for more than a half-century for his vision of Cyprus, Denktash has refused for years to engage in serious talks unless he first obtains international recognition for his part of the island as "The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" -- something he knows is not achievable. By his rigidity, Denktash has done great damage not only to the 200,000 Turks in Cyprus but to the 70 million people of Turkey.? * * *

The Christian Science Monitor Excerpts from the editorial ?Happy Ending for Cyprus?? January 6, 2003 ?In a matter of months, the outlook for the Mediterranean island has dramatically improved, mostly because all three factors have come into play. First, pressure from influential outsiders. Last week, in a historic shift, the leader of Turkey's governing party flatly told the ruler of Turkish northern Cyprus to get on with peace negotiations with his Greek counterpart in the south. For years, the leader of Turkish Cyprus, Rauf Denktash, has refused to join with the island's majority Greeks, claiming an independence that only Ankara recognized. But during the Christmas week, an astonishing 30,000 Turkish Cypriots - about a sixth of the population - held a rally to protest his hardline position.

? Don't hand out the Nobel Peace Prize yet, but it looks as if Cyprus is coming closer to the medal than ever. And if Cyprus can resolve its dispute, that bodes well for Turkey and Greece, two key NATO players whose antagonistic relationship has too often roiled the alliance and diminished Turkey's role as a key Western ally.? * * *

The Providence Journal-Bulletin Excerpt from the editorial ?The Truth about Turkey? December 24, 2002 ??some 40,000 Turkish troops still occupy the northern third of Cyprus, one of the 10 nations invited to join the E.U. The European Union can hardly be expected to invite a country for membership when that nation's army has invaded and occupied the land of another. Turkey cannot reasonably expect to petition the E.U. until the tragic division of Cyprus has been resolved. ?

The challenge, therefore, is not to bend and twist the idea of Europe to accommodate Turkey but to persuade Turkey to continue on the path of reform, with or without the E.U..? * * *

International Institute for Strategic Studies

Excerpt from ?Strategic Comments? editorial ?A settlement on Cyprus??
Vol. 8, Issue 10, December 2002

?Annan?s plan was meant to serve as a basis for a settlement rather than be implemented verbatim. Despite reservations, the Greek Cypriot government agreed to return to the negotiating table?

Initially, Denktash refused to talk, as the Annan Plan fell far short of his demand for Turkish Cypriot sovereignty. He rebuffed attempts by the new Turkish government of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (JDP), which took power after the 3 November 2002 elections, to resume negotiations

? Turkey?s JDP government has publicly maintained that a settlement based on the Annan Plan is possible by 28 February 2003. But in Turkey, Cyprus has traditionally been seen as ?state? rather than ?government? policy, the prerogative of the Turkish military, which informs the civilian administration of its decisions at monthly meetings of the National Security Council (NSC). The election of a pro- Islamist government has made the fiercely secularist military even less willing than before to withdraw from the political arena. At the most recent NSC meeting on 29 November, the military bluntly told the JDP government that it would not be allowed to determine Turkish policy on Cyprus. Privately, military officials insist that the threat will be backed by force if necessary. ?

There is little doubt that, after years of international isolation and relative impoverishment, the majority of native Turkish Cypriots favor a settlement that would allow them to enter the EU. Still, their ability to exert pressure is limited ?? * * *

The Washington Times Excerpts from an Op-ed by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) ?History can still be made? December 19, 2002 ?They must solve the Cyprus problem and open the floodgates of a new era of tolerance, democracy, and prosperity that will extend all the way to the borders of Iraq.

? U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been working furiously for the last several weeks to broker a settlement between the island's two leaders in time for the Copenhagen summit so that Cyprus could enter the European Union as one united republic. ?

President Bush had urged Turkey to help facilitate a solution to the Cyprus problem, arguing that it would help its chances of entering the European Union, a priority of both the Bush administration and Ankara.

? If Turkey sincerely wants to join the European Union, then it should begin by working more aggressively with Greece to broker a just and workable solution to the Cyprus problem that both sides can accept with dignity. ?EU membership remains in Turkey's national self-interest. Although Ankara does not like to admit it, Cyprus is the key that will unlock the door to its EU future.? * * *

Financial Times of London Excerpts from the editorial ?Nervous in Nicosia? January 10, 2003 ?Greek and Turkish Cypriots are due next Monday to restart their long negotiations over the island's 28-year division. They must make the most of their chance. A window of opportunity that opened last year could soon close. Three forces are creating the best hopes for a settlement since the island was split.

First, the European Union is pressing for a deal before it admits Cyprus and nine other states next year. Next, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's election success has brought a government to Turkey that wants to remove the barriers that have long delayed the country's bid for EU membership. Finally, Greece has responded positively to Mr. Erdogan's plans to modernize Turkey. Athens rightly sees that good relations with a forward-looking administration in Ankara are the best way to promote regional security. ?

The talks will focus on a United Nations plan that proposes a loose confederation of two "component states" on the island in one common "state", headed by a rotating presidency.

But the UN can only make suggestions. It is up to Mr. Denktash and Mr. Clerides and their aides to each a settlement. In one promising sign, the Turkish Cypriots are next week expected to table their own specific responses to the UN plan. If it happens, it will be the first such concrete move from the Turkish Cypriots. If Greek Cypriots also reply with specific ideas, a real dialogue will at last begin.

Time is short. Ideally, the EU should like a deal before the Athens summit in mid-April when it will sign an accession treaty with candidate states, including Cyprus. ?The EU could wait until May 2004, when accession comes into effect. But every month's delay increases the risks of failure. With Turkey facing economic problems, Mr. Erdogan may be unable to keep Cyprus at the top of his agenda. Greece will be disappointed if the deal is not done during its EU presidency, ending in June. The possible war in Iraq could have unforeseen consequences. At the least it will monopolize the diplomatic arena, taking attention from Cyprus. So, Messrs Denktash and Clerides, the time is now.? * * *

The Independent of London Excerpt from a letter to the editor by Andrew Dismore, Member of Parliament December 23, 2002 ?The response in Cyprus to the failure of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, to allow his delegation to sign the Annan plan as a basis for negotiation, has been calls for his resignation and huge demonstrations in North Nicosia. The Turkish military trials in northern Cyprus against journalists and politicians should come to an end. Show trials are not the European way to deal with political criticism.

The most important unfinished business for Turkey in the next few weeks is to support negotiations between the two Cypriot leaders and allow the Athens summit to agree that a united Cyprus should enter the EU. Democracy is the core value of the EU, which Turkey needs to embrace not just in Turkey but in the north of Cyprus, too.? * * *

The New York Times Excerpts from an Op-ed by Philip H. Gordon and Henri J. Barkey ?Two Countries and One Continent's Future? December 2, 2002 ?Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations put forward a comprehensive plan for a new Cypriot federation. The proposal gives the Greek Cypriots the unified Cyprus they demand, recognition of a right to return to their lost homes in the north and the return of territory lost in 1974 when the island was violently divided. But to reassure the Turkish side that Turkish Cypriots would never again be dominated by the majority Greeks, the plan includes layers of protection? The Greek Cypriot leadership has accepted the plan in principle, but the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, is dragging his feet, against the apparent wishes of much of the Turkish Cypriot population. The Bush administration should make it clear to Ankara that the current Cyprus proposal is the best they are ever likely to see and that the opportunity to accept it should not be missed.? * * *

Financial Times of London Excerpts from the Op-ed by Carl Bildt ?The world cannot tolerate a divided Cyprus? December 19, 2002 ?In Cyprus, the relative comfort of the status quo must be overcome in favor of the uncertainties of a difficult process of coming back together again. But it must happen. Although it is still years away, it is inconceivable that the European Union will accept as a member a Turkey that recognizes and supports the illegal state-lette of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We cannot preach ethnic integration and co-existence elsewhere and tolerate ethnic division within our own ranks.

Thus failure or success in the search for peace in Cyprus is part of a wider search for peace. Copenhagen did not have the energy to do this in addition to everything else it achieved. But we must not tolerate the fundamental failure a divided Cyprus as a member of the EU would be.? * * *

Chicago Tribune Excerpt from news analysis by Evan Osnos ?On split Cyrus, a rare window to peace? December 27, 2002 ?Diplomats had high hopes that a settlement could be reached in time for an announcement at the EU's summit in Copenhagen earlier this month. But those hopes faded when Denktash failed to show up for negotiations, citing heart trouble.

? That absence has sparked unusually sharp criticism at home. Newspapers and rival party chiefs are calling for Denktash to step aside, saying he is threatening the peace process. A series of demonstrations calling for him to accept the UN deal has drawn thousands to the capital in recent weeks, as protesters blast his handling of the negotiations. ?

"Mr. Denktash is trapped in history, but the world has changed," said Mustafa Damdelen, a prominent businessman and leader of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce. "This is the last chance for Turkish Cypriots to join the rest of the world." # # #

For more information on the U.N. negotiations and other developments concerning Cyprus, visit the Embassy of Cyprus website: http://www.cyprusembassy.net/ or contact the Embassy Press Office at (202) 232-8993

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