American Hellenic Institute


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Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato Institute Vice President for Defense & Foreign Policy Studies, Urges U.S. to Be Firm with Turkey on Cyprus, Encourage Cyprus' EU Accession at AHI Noon Forum
November 11, 2002 No. 53/02 (202) 785-8430

Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato Institute Vice President for Defense & Foreign Policy Studies, Urges U.S. to Be Firm with Turkey on Cyprus, Encourage Cyprus' EU Accession at AHI Noon Forum

WASHINGTON, DC—On November 6, 2002, Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter (Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, The Cato Institute) offered a candid presentation on the issue of Cyprus' accession to the European Union (EU) and the importance to U.S. interests at a Noon Forum hosted by the American Hellenic Institute. Outlining a number of concrete recommendations to U.S. policymakers, Dr. Carpenter concluded that it is in America's best interest to change its policy rather "emphatically" in order to engender significant change in the stalemated issue of the division and occupation of the island.

Ceasing Interference with Cyprus' EU Accession:

The starting blocks for fostering such a change in policy include that the U.S. first "cease any interference in the process of Cyprus' admission to the European Union," and instead "be very candid with Turkey on what needs to be done in the coming years."

According to Dr. Carpenter, successive U.S. administrations have hinted that Cyprus' admission to the EU ought to be postponed if a political solution has not been reached by the time of accession. However, not only is it an elementary matter of justice that Cyprus be admitted to the EU, but the U.S. should "congratulate Cyprus for its great achievement," said Dr. Carpenter.

Overcoming the tremendous obstacles of aggression, ethnic cleansing, and a refugee situation, Cyprus has achieved remarkable success in standing at the head of the new class of prospective EU members. For this, Cyprus should be rewarded. But "the irony is… in some ways, Cyprus has been penalized for its success because it's been easy to push this issue off the front pages."

Dr. Carpenter also stated that:

"A denial of admission to the European Union would create a moral equivalence between the victim of aggression and the perpetrator of aggression. Those who contend that the territorial issue and the political status of Cyprus ought to be resolved before the country is admitted to the European Union in essence give a veto to the country that invaded Cyprus and has continued to occupy 37 percent of Cyprus' territory for the past 28 years."

Being Candid with Turkey on What Needs to Be Done:

U.S. policy regarding Turkey's position on the Cyprus issue must be explicit, according to Dr. Carpenter. First, Ankara must be warned not to respond to the admission of Cyprus to the EU with any kind of rash action, such as annexation of the northern portion of the island.

Further, the U.S. must clarify that Ankara's policy in Cyprus is a barrier to a mutually beneficial, close strategic relationship that could exist between the U.S. and Turkey. Dr. Carpenter pointed out that the explicit message of the U.S. to Ankara should be:

"We cannot be a close ally of a country that committed an atrocious act of aggression and continues to enjoy the fruits of that aggression. There are standards, however important a country might be to the United States in terms of its strategic interests. We will maintain certain standards and we will not be a close ally of an aggressor."

A Catalyst for Meaningful Change:

Cited by Dr. Carpenter as the principal catalyst for change in the current situation, is Turkey's own candidacy for membership in the EU. If Turkey is truly serious about vying for EU membership, it must understand above all else that it will "never be admitted to the EU as long as it occupies Cypriot territory." The current status quo on Cyprus in a post-accession context would act as a "serious irritant" in Turkish-EU relations.

In this area, the U.S. can play a small but useful role. Underscoring the importance of the U.S. to Turkey, Dr. Carpenter recommended that:

"The U.S. ask Turkey to examine its own long-term interests in a serious fashion. Does it want to be a member of European Union some day? Yes or no? If it does, then it must change its policy on Cyprus. There is no alternative. And again, if the U.S. conveys the message that we understand that point and we urge Turkey to be much more reasonable on the issue than it has been in the past, that carries weight with Ankara in a way that statements even from the European Union do not. Turkey understands it has a key relationship with the United States and if the United States is unhappy with Ankara, that is a point that has to be taken into consideration."

Click here for a full transcript of Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter's remarks at AHI's Noon Forum. Digital photographs of the event and additional information are available by contacting Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information on AHI, please view our Web site at