American Hellenic Institute Statement International Crisis Group’s Briefing Paper on Steps toward a Cyprus Settlement March 2011
The American Hellenic Institute (AHI), a non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community, has issued the following statement in rebuttal to the ICG’s briefing paper. The statement is authored by AHI Foundation Chair of Fellows Dr. Van Coufoudakis. In sum, ICG’s briefing paper disregards the rule of law and recommends more concessions from the Republic of Cyprus which is the victim of Turkey’s aggression. Also, ICG’s acceptance of funding from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs discredits the ICG’s proposed steps toward a Cyprus settlement that of course favor Turkey.
The International Crisis Group’s report “Cyprus: Six Steps toward a Settlement” fails the test of independent analysis, let alone accuracy. The proposed “six steps” may help close the Cyprus problem but it will not contribute to its resolution.
First, nearly all of the recommendations involve new concessions on the part of the Republic of Cyprus and none from Turkey, which is the country that has been found in violation of international law by major international and regional organizations as well as international courts. The analysis denigrates the rule of law by dismissing “black and white arguments about principles.” Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger used similar arguments against the rule of law during the debate on the arms embargo on Turkey (1974-75). Turkey takes any concessions for granted and asks for more. That’s how the 2004 Annan Plan was conceived; a plan that the Greek Cypriots decisively and wisely rejected.
Second, the terminology used in the report demonstrates ICG’s bias. With a couple of minor exceptions, the briefing report does not refer to the Republic of Cyprus, an internationally recognized state member of the UN and the EU, as the Republic of Cyprus. Instead, the ICG adopts the Turkish reference to the Greek Cypriot “community.” Another example is the mischaracterization of Cypriot media that correctly support the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of their country as “the nationalist Greek Cypriot media.”
To further illustrate the briefing paper is flawed, it declares that the population of Cyprus is 1.1 million. It appears ICG has accepted as “Cypriots” the more than 180,000 settlers that the Turkish government has brought into Cyprus in an attempt to alter the demography of Cyprus, specifically the Turkish Cypriot community. This action is in violation of international law, specifically the 1949 Geneva Convention to which Turkey is a signatory and has ratified. This is another example of how legal principles are disregarded by the ICG.
Moreover, the assumptions made by the briefing paper’s author about Turkey’s EU accession are fascinating. By blaming Cyprus for Turkey’s EU troubles, the ICG ignores concerns expressed by a large number of EU members about Turkey’s accession. Pro-Turkish articles create the impression that it is the EU seeking to join Turkey and not the other way around. The EU, by unanimous decisions since 1993, opened the way for the accession of the Republic of Cyprus. The EU also rejected Turkish and American demands to link Turkish accession to the Cypriot accession and to the resolution of the Cyprus problem. Had the EU agreed to the demands of two non-EU members it would have fallen victim to Turkey’s will and given a veto to non-EU states over EU enlargement. While Greece and Cyprus supported the start of the accession talks between Turkey and the EU, Turkey continues to violate the terms of the “Additional Protocol” by its refusal to recognize the Republic of Cyprus and to open its ports and airports to sea and air traffic from the Republic of Cyprus. This is unprecedented in the history of EU accession talks.
The ICG briefing report also cites Varosha. This is another area where Turkey has violated the pledge made in the 1979 High Level Agreement. The 1979 Agreement states, “Priority will be given to reaching agreement on the resettlement of Varosha under UN auspices simultaneously with the beginning of the consideration by interlocutors of the constitutional and territorial aspects of a comprehensive settlement. After agreement on Varosha has been reached it will be implemented without awaiting the outcome of the discussion on other aspects of the Cyprus problem.” Today, Varosha remains a ghost town in the hands of illegal Turkish occupation forces. This is another clear example of how the ICG’s briefing paper ignores the facts.
The briefing report bemoans the plight of the Turkish Cypriots (and the settlers), and it attributes their economic and social problems to the Greek Cypriots. In fact, the perceived “isolationism” of the Turkish Cypriots is self-imposed by 43,000 Turkish occupation troops and the barbed-wired Green Line that divides Cyprus. Since the partial lifting of 2003 that has allowed for some 15 million incident-free crossing of the Green Line, the benefits extended to native Turkish Cypriots by the Government of Cyprus have included access to passports of the Republic of Cyprus, work in the free areas, and free medical and medicinal care among other benefits. The briefing paper fails to mention these facts. Therefore, it is clear that the removal of 43,000 Turkish occupation troops and the elimination of the Green Line will lead to the end of Turkish Cypriot “isolationism.”
On a similar theme, the briefing report also claims that “businessmen and intellectuals” support the benefits that will come to Cyprus by its association with Turkey’s dynamic economy. This claim is unfounded and not substantiated. What are clearly evident are the protests of Turkish Cypriots who have lived under Turkey’s oppressive mismanagement since 1974. The protests have been met by threats from Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan.
Finally, the ICG report spends a lot of time on the direct trade regulation objecting, as expected, to the legal rulings coming from appropriate EU legal bodies. Why are the native Turkish Cypriots not taking advantage of the EU-sponsored trade provisions across the “green line?” All the fuss about direct trade has had one objective—to strengthen Turkey’s claim of statehood for the area of Cyprus under its occupation.
In conclusion, the ICG briefing report is just one in a long line that advocate for Turkey’s case in a one-sided presentation. It is not surprising given that the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the ICG sponsors. However, in the interest of transparency, ICG must present this report for what it is and not hide behind the pretext of “independent recommendations.”
The American Hellenic Institute is an independent non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
1220 16th Street, NW | Washington, D.C. 20036
AHI Statement: AHI Rebuts NGO’s Briefing Paper on Cyprus