American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Hosts Timely Forum on Cyprus 34 Years After Invasion and Occupation—Experts Agree that Key to Solution Remains in Ankara
July 23, 2008—No. 45 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts Timely Forum on Cyprus 34 Years After Invasion and OccupationExperts Agree that Key to Solution Remains in Ankara

WASHINGTON—The American Hellenic Institute (AHI), a leading Greek-American policy center and think tank, hosted a timely and poignant forum titled “Cyprus 34 Years Later: What Is Needed for a Solution?” featuring foreign policy experts from prominent Washington think tank organizations and His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S., on Wednesday, July 16, 2008, in Washington, DC. Former United States Representative and President Emeritus of New York University Dr. John Brademas moderated the panel discussion.

“With the unfortunate observation of the 34th commemoration of the illegal invasion on July 20, 1974 and subsequent occupation of 37 percent of Cyprus, where 43,000 Turkish troops and 160,000 illegal settlers still remain, we felt it was important to stage a forum of experts to examine and analyze current conditions for a solution of the Cyprus issue” said AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis.

The panel featured Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for foreign policy and defense studies, CATO Institute; Doug Bandow, Robert A. Taft fellow, American Conservative Defense Alliance; and Gene Rossides, founder and president, American Hellenic Institute. Following the forum and luncheon, Ambassador Kakouris provided a briefing to the audience.

U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Zack Space (D-OH) also offered remarks about the upcoming 34th commemoration of Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Cyprus. Both legislators called for the removal of Turkish troops and settlers and both legislators commended AHI for its contributions to help keep the issue at the forefront in Washington and its commitment to solve it.

Prior to the panelists’ presentations, Dr. Brademas offered his insightful historical experiences surrounding the Cyprus issue from the perspective of being a high-ranking member (House Deputy Majority Whip) of Congress at the time of the invasion.

Dr. Carpenter: Decision-making Authority Is in Ankara; U.S., E.U. Have Roles to Play

Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter acknowledged that new Cypriot President Demetris Christofias has been more committed to finding a solution and that the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat is seen as being less intransigent than his predecessor, Rauf Denktash. He also added the millions of incident-free Green Line crossings is a solid achievement. However, Carpenter cautioned that a more flexible attitude will do little to produce a settlement.

“Something else is needed,” he said. “Mr. Talat does not have meaningful decision-making authority.”

According to Carpenter, the two important issues of the status of the Turkish settlers and the removal of Turkish troops, both of which make this a challenging diplomatic process, are to be decided in Ankara.

“There is little cause for optimism that Ankara will make concessions on these two issues,” said Carpenter. “There is no evidence the Turkish military, which is a powerful player in the political system, will ever go along, and the current government will placate the military to show no weakness or flexibility on the Cyprus issue.”

If this is the case, Carpenter contended that there is no serious prospect for a solution that would be tolerable to the Republic of Cyprus unless Ankara changes its attitude. Factors that might help to facilitate a change can be found with the European Union and United States, he offers.

Regarding the role the EU can play, Carpenter says it is time for that body to test whether Turkey is serious about joining. The EU must make clear to Turkish leaders that serious reforms are needed.

“The EU must emphasize that there is no chance of joining as long as Turkish troops remain on Cyprus; period.” said Carpenter.

However, Carpenter cautioned that Turkey may be clinging to the hope that the EU’s tendency at times is to frown upon the obstinate actions of smaller nations, citing the reaction to Ireland’s recent “no” vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

“Ankara needs to be dissuaded from this notion now,” said Carpenter.

With respect to the United States, Carpenter called for the U.S. to speak out more boldly.

“Turkey is not so vital that Washington must accept every action without protest, or at least call for justification of that action,” he said, adding that the lack of any murmurs of diplomatic protest from Washington only encourages Ankara.

According to Carpenter, the United States should issue: 1) a blunt statement, either by the President or the Secretary of State, expressing that a close relationship with Ankara is impossible without major action on the Cyprus issue, and 2) a statement that would make clear that the U.S. will do nothing to encourage the EU to proceed with Turkey’s EU membership unless Ankara’s policy undergoes constructive changes. He contends the latter statement would be effective because Washington is Ankara’s “chief lobbyist” for Turkey’s EU membership.

In sum, Carpenter believes that the United States betrayed its core values on the Cyprus issue, and he looks forward to a day without the need for a forum such as this one held on the Cyprus issue. 

Bandow: How Do Positive Steps Translate to a Solution?

In his presentation, Doug Bandow offered that Cyprus is an important matter and he also observed that the current atmosphere for a solution is better than it has been in recent years. The ongoing discussions, working groups, and the Ledra Street crossing point opening are all positive steps.

However, he posed the question, how does this transform to a solution?

He expressed concerns about who in Ankara is making policy decisions, especially going forward, because there is political uncertainty and these struggles do not make for solid policy-making decisions on tough issues such as security (i.e., Turkish troops on the island)

“A united Cyprus is in the benefit of Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Greece, and Turkey,” he said.

Bandow urged the audience to raise concerns pertaining to Cyprus to the advisors of the two presidential candidates so that the next administration will be prepared to address the issue.

“Thirty-plus years are way too long,” he said. “Having a divided capital city in Europe is outrageous.”

Rossides: Cyprus Is A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure

AHI Founder and President Gene Rossides called Cyprus a “U.S. foreign policy failure,” and stated that the evidence is mounting that Secretary of State, Henry A. Kissinger, encouraged the invasion that took place 34 years ago.

“The application of double-standard on the rule of law to Turkey is harmful to U.S. interests,” he said reflecting upon America’s foreign policy.

Rossides argued that Turkey is the main roadblock to an equitable and viable settlement and that the problem is the lack of political will in the U.S. for a settlement. Therefore, the U.S. must play an increased pressing role on Turkey, asserting diplomatic, political and economic pressures.

“I think the United States can and should pressure Turkey in the interest of the United States,” he said, citing examples of U.S. efforts in the Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Rossides offered that U.S. policy toward Cyprus should follow policy statements issued by previous presidents of the United States. President George H.W. Bush’s statements that “the rule of law, not the rule of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations” and “that aggression cannot and will not pay” when referring to the liberation of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War; and his statement as Vice President and presidential candidate: “We seek for Cyprus a constitutional democracy based on majority rule, the rule of law, and the protection of minority rights.”

President Bill Clinton stated in 1992 “A Cyprus settlement should be consistent with the fundamental principles of human rights and democratic norms and practices.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated during the 1956 Middle East Suez crisis, “There can be no peace without law. And there can be no law if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us and another for our friends.”

Rossides also placed significant blame on the United Kingdom for creating the Cyprus problem in the 1950’s and failing to work for an equitable and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.

In conclusion, Rossides also called for community action and public opinion to be directed toward the U.S. Congress and administration.

Ambassador Kakouris: Solution for the Cypriots and by the Cypriots

“This is a very poignant period in Cyprus,” said His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. He stated that the Republic of Cyprus continues to work for a solution that ends the illegal occupation, reunites the island and its people, restores the rule of law, and protects the human rights of all Cypriots.
The Ambassador recalled that the framework for a Cyprus solution is found in the numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions which call for a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded with political equality as described in the relevant Security Council Resolutions in a bicommunal and bizonal federation.

In his briefing, the Ambassador presented the following facts:

  1. There are almost twice as many illegal Turkish citizens than Turkish Cypriot citizens in the occupied area of Cyprus;
  2. There are more Turkish troops in occupied Cyprus than the United States has in Afghanistan; and
  3. Human rights are still violated whether it be with regard to the Greek Cypriot refugees, the missing or the desecration of cultural and religious heritage.

The Ambassador offered that recent talks have been the start of something important and that any solution that is reached must be one that is “for the Cypriots and by the Cypriots.” Efforts for a solution need to be carefully prepared, unlike the Annan Plan, he said.

Hence the establishment of the working groups and technical committees which were established after the March 21, 2008 agreement between President Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mr. Talat. On July 25, there will be a final review by the President and Mr. Talat to see if there has been the necessary progress in order to move to full fledged negotiations.

“However, in the final analysis, the key remains in Ankara,” said the ambassador, who added that Turkey’s domestic crisis will have an effect on efforts for a solution. “Deeds are needed; not just words by Ankara.”

He added that the EU can be a catalyst for a solution, and that Turkey must not “cherry pick” what it likes or dislikes about the criteria for joining the EU.

In addition, the Ambassador remarked how Cyprus has been an important partner to the U.S. in the region, citing its assistance with the Lebanon crisis.

Click here to view photos of the event.