Landmark Conference Marks Republic of Cyprus’s 50th Anniversary
A Comprehensive Look at Cyprus’s Economic, Political, Social Development since Independence
WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF), the first think-tank devoted to Greek American issues, hosted a landmark two-day conference “Fifty Year Anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus” on Oct. 4-5, 2010, in Washington. The conference featured prominent academics, ambassadors, and policy analysts who, through a series of seven panels, examined historical and contemporary topics that spanned the Republic of Cyprus’s 50-year history, including its economic development, geopolitical importance, cultural and religious heritage and human rights issues, and prospects for a settlement.
AHI Foundation President Eugene T. Rossides was the conference chairman and opened the conference with remarks. The conference was held in cooperation with PSEKA, International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus; and the Cyprus Federation of America.
Panel 1: Cyprus Today: The Economic Miracle
The panel featured four presentations about Cyprus’s economic development in sectors such as commerce and shipping, tourism, and education.
Dr. Michael Sarris, Cyprus’s former minister of Finance, presented on “The Development of the Cyprus Economy: From Turkish Invasion to EU Member State.” He provided an overview of how Cyprus’ economy transformed from agricultural and mining to one that embraced commerce and an entrepreneurial spirit. Dr. Sarris credited a strong private sector partnership and membership in international organizations such as the EU as reasons for Cyprus’s economic development. He cited an aging population and the political issue as ongoing economic challenges.
Aristos Constantine, Cyprus trade commissioner, spoke about Cyprus as an international business center and its shipping sector. He stated Cyprus is no longer considered a tax haven, and its future is in the finance sector and not agriculture. Constantine shared information about American corporations that have a presence in Cyprus, such as Pepsi, Merck, and Morgan Stanley. He added that Cyprus has the lowest corporate tax in the EU. With regard to shipping, Cyprus’s merchant navy is the sixth largest in the world and third largest in the EU.
In her presentation about Cyprus as a tourist destination, Cyprus Tourism Organization Director Tasoula Manaridis cited many facts including that only 35,000 Americans visit Cyprus annually, but that they have seen a 25% increase in 2010 from the U.S. The tourism organization is executing a strategy that attempts to entice tourism to Cyprus by combining a visit to the island with other countries. Manarides also offered that Cyprus generated $1.5 billion in tourism revenue in 2009, which was down from 2008.
Dr. Van Coufoudakis, rector emeritus, University of Nicosia, and dean emeritus, School of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University (Fort Wayne), presented on “Cyprus as a Regional Educational Center.” Not until 1991 did Cyprus have a university. Greek Cypriots sought an education in Greece or England up until that time, he said. Another interesting fact presented by Dr. Coufoudakis was that 56% of students seek a higher education outside of the country; however, the number of Cypriot graduate and post-graduate students in the U.S. has dropped to approximately 519. Education in occupied Cyprus makes up 15% of its GDP, he added. There are six public and private universities built on Greek Cypriot land that serve 43,000 students (10,500 Turkish Cypriot, 29,000 from mainland Turkey, 3,500 from elsewhere).
Dr. George Tsetsekos, dean, Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, moderated the panel.
Panel 2: Cyprus in a Geopolitical Perspective
The panel featured three presentations that examined Cyprus’s geographical location as an important determining factor in the island’s history and politics.
“Cyprus and Its Geostrategic Location” was the topic presented by Gregory Copley, president, The International Strategic Studies Association and editor-in-chief, Defense & Foreign Affairs. He is also the president of Global Information System (GIS), Inc. Copley discussed the emergence of Russia in the eastern Mediterranean, and to a certain extent, Iran. He contrasted these two countries with the waning influence of the U.S. and United Kingdom in a region that Copley described as being “in flux.” He offered that Cyprus is operating in a new world and that it must add Russia as a priority. Hence, we witnessed the visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Cyprus as the beginning of this trend. “Russia acts. Washington preaches,” concluded Copley.
In contrast, Ambassador Angelos Pangratis, deputy head of the European Delegation to the U.S., believes that the decline of the West is an exaggeration and that a multi-polar world can be good. The EU and Eurozone proved to be much more resilient than people thought and the political will is present. In his presentation, “Cyprus as a Member State of the European Union,” Ambassador Pangratis discussed the implications of Cyprus being a member of the EU, which included a transformation of Cyprus from within. The resolution of conflicts among states utilizing the rule of law is a key EU principle and any resolution to the Cyprus issue as it applies to Turkey’s EU candidacy has to be around this principle.
Retired Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Commission Nicos Agathocleous concluded the panel by providing a detailed account on the topic “The Accession of Cyprus to the EU-A Long and Difficult Process.” Ambassador Agathocleous presented his first-hand experience of the challenges encountered and strategies incorporated during Cyprus’s process to become an EU nation. A key moment was the Helsinki European Council of December 1999 at which it was agreed Cyprus could enter the EU without a solution, and it was expressed that the search for a solution must continue and should be in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.
Maria Papathanassiou, senior vice president, The European Institute; associate publisher, European Affairs, moderated the panel. As a result of the AHIF conference, The European Institute posted the blog entry on its web site titled, “Cyprus Turns 50—But Turkish Troops Still Hold Northern Sector.”
Day 2: Opening Remarks of Ambassador Pavlos Anastasiades
His Excellency Pavlos Anastasiades, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S., who just presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on September 16, 2010, provided opening remarks on the second day of the conference. He commended AHI for its initiative to host such a groundbreaking conference. The ambassador made clear in his remarks the following three points: 1) the Republic of Cyprus would never accept a second state as a solution, 2) direct trade with occupied Cyprus, as has come up in EU circles, cannot be accepted, and 3) no entities in occupied Cyprus, such as universities, will be recognized. Ambassador Anastasiades also provided his thoughts on U.S.-Cyprus relations, stating that the level of friendship and cooperation is “very high.” He stated that he is looking forward to working with Congress and the Obama administration for an expanded bilateral relationship. The ambassador reviewed points in history where Cyprus has been quick to provide assistance to the U.S., including the signing of key treaties, over-flight permission, and with the crises in Lebanon. Finally, the ambassador provided an update on the ongoing settlement negotiations between President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot representative Dervis Eroglu, which included a recent set of proposals the former presented that involved chapters on property and settlers, Famagusta, and an initiative for an international conference on Cyprus, that was met with immediate rejection by the Turkish Cypriots. “Progress is not what we have expected,” said the ambassador, but he said the republic’s commitment remains unwavering.
Panel 3: Constitutionalism and Crisis Government
The panel included one presentation titled “A Critical Appraisal of a Flawed Constitution and its Consequences in the Formative Years of the Republic of Cyprus (1959-1968)” by Retired Ambassador of Cyprus Elias Eliades, who is a professor of International Relations at Javeriana University of Bogota, Colombia. Ambassador Eliades identified the problems with the formulation of the republic’s 1960 constitution primary of which was the fact that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities were not involved in its formulation. Instead, the constitution was founded on a complicated and interlocking set of documents among Great Britain, Greece, and Turkey. As a result, the 1960 constitution made no mention of Cypriots, but instead, cited “Greeks” and “Turks.” In analyzing these documents, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the U.S. State Department concluded in a report that there were “dangers” in the detailed codification of community rights that would “perpetuate rather than eliminate the communal cleavages.” Ambassador Eliades also went on to provide an overview of the problems with subsequent amendments to the constitution and UN Resolutions during this period of Cypriot history.
Dr. Harris Mylonas, assistant professor of Political Science and International Relations, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, moderated the panel.
Panel 4: The Greek Colonels and the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus
The panel featured four presentations that examined the events and policy-decisions leading up to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and its aftermath.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Greece Robert V. Keeley addressed the topic “The Policy of the Greek Junta Towards Cyprus 1967-1974” where he presented his observations about the rise of the junta and its repercussions in the region. In his opinion, the ambassador stated U.S. support for the junta was based on the need to bolster the southeastern flank of NATO especially if the need arose for potential U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. The Arab-Israeli six-day war crisis in May-June 1967 was an example he provided. A November 1967 summit meeting between the junta and Turkey, described as “poorly planned” by Ambassador Keeley, revealed to the Turks that the Greek junta was weak. As a result of the junta’s weakness, it eventually chose to accept humiliation and avoid a military engagement on Cyprus in 1974 when Turkey invaded, according to the ambassador.
“The View of the U.S. State Department in 1974” was presented in-depth by Ambassador Thomas Boyatt, a former diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus and U.S. ambassador to Colombia. He was the director of Cyprus Affairs at the State Department during the Turkish invasion in 1974. Ambassador Boyatt’s presentation was outlined in three phases: 1) the assassination attempt of President Makarios in 1970 through to the coup in 1974, 2) the coup and brief rule of the extreme Greek Cypriot nationalists backed by the junta in Greece, which lasted until July 20, 1974, and 3) the period of July 20, 1974 through to the second invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, August 14-16, 1974. Ambassador Boyatt believes at each phase the U.S. government had the opportunity to solve the crisis on Cyprus, and that the best opportunity would have been to take action to prevent the Turkish invasion between 1970 and 1974 (phase 1). Once the coup occurred (phase 2), there was a diminished chance of stopping a Turkish invasion, he said. Once phase 3 occurred, there was no chance, he concluded.
Within the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Boyatt identified two major problems: 1) the leadership of the European Bureau was disinterested in the issue, and 2) Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s management style, which included a distrust of persons outside of his inner circle. Furthermore, Ambassador Boyatt specifically presented his attempts to issue warnings to his colleagues at State about the junta’s intentions to get rid of President Makarios. For example, a cable sent on May 17, 1974 to the embassies at Athens and Nicosia warned that “a direct confrontation between Greece and Turkey was inevitable” should the junta pursue ousting Makarios. According to Ambassador Boyatt, no action from the embassies ensued. A second cable sent reinforced this analysis and a third cable stated that President Makarios was not pro-communist and that Cyprus was not on the verge of becoming a “Mediterranean Cuba.” Ambassador Boyatt believes this last cable was never sent.
“Nobody can say they weren’t warned,” the ambassador summarized. In retrospect, he stated that there was a failure of leadership, but not a failure of not analysis or policy subscription.
“U.S. Policy Toward Cyprus: The Rule of Law Arms Embargo on Turkey” was the topic of Christos P. Ioannides’ presentation. Ioannides is the director of the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Queens College, City University of New York. He provided an overview of how the U.S. arms embargo against Turkey was imposed and who the key players on Capitol Hill were. Ioannides described the effort as a “significant grassroots mobilization of the Greek American community” led by AHI and aided by AHEPA and the Church. On Capitol Hill, he credited Congressmen Paul Sarbanes, John Brademas, and Ben Rosenthal, and Senator Thomas Eagleton, for spearheading the effort. The embargo was enacted in 1975. However, when the Carter administration came into office in 1977, the embargo became a test case between realism and morality for the administration. According to Ioannides, because of the realpolitik of the Soviet threat and geopolitical position of Turkey and events in the Middle East, the Carter administration chose to pursue lifting the embargo. In Congress, with a coalition of republicans and southern democrats, a vote to lift the embargo passed in the senate by 15 votes on July 25, 1978 and passed the house by a mere three votes on August 12, 1978. According to Ioannides, the fundamental argument used by supporters of lifting the embargo—it would help facilitate a Cyprus settlement.
AHI Founder and AHI Foundation President Gene Rossides presented on “Turkish Invasion and Aftermath: The Role and Responsibility of the U.S.” Rossides focused on the role of Secretary Kissinger during the most crucial days before and after the Turkish invasion of the Republic of Cyprus, including his leak of a New York Times front page story that the U.S. was leaning toward the Sampson coup government that gave Turkey reason to invade Cyprus. Rossides also cited that Kissinger did not condemn the invasion when it occurred on July 20, 1974 and he failed to apply the foreign military sales act of 1961. Rossides added that Kissinger was not helpful during negotiations following Turkey’s initial invasion of Cyprus. A New York Times article during this crucial time stated that the “U.S. tilts toward Turkey,” and subsequently, Turkey commences its second phase of the invasion on August 14, 1974. As further evidence, Rossides spoke about recently declassified State Department memos where Kissinger stated, “There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one-third of Cyprus.”
In addition, Rossides provided his thoughts on what the U.S. should do now about Cyprus, which he described as a “strategic and moral responsibility” for the U.S. Rossides believes the U.S. should take action especially given Turkey’s disloyal actions at the UN. The U.S. should publically call for the removal of Turkish troops from Cyprus and the removal of the 180,000 Turkish settlers that are on Cyprus in direct violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949.
Ambassador Patrick Theros, principal, Theros and Theros LLP, and former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, moderated the panel.
Panel 5: The Legal Issues Arising from the Turkish Occupation
The panel featured two presentations that explored the legal ramifications of the Turkish occupation. The occupation has generated case law from international and domestic courts with respect to property rights, recognition of sovereignty, and law of the sea.
In his presentation, “The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ): Rights in Real Property Located in Turkish Occupied Cyprus,”Nicholas G. Karambelas, partner, Sfikas & Karambelas LLP, and AHI Board of Directors Secretary and Legal Counsel, provided an overview of the different international courts in which legal disputes such as property rights have been litigated. He also explained the differences between these international courts. For example, the World Court only hears cases between countries and has never issued a decision on Cyprus. However, other courts, such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which includes the 40 EU-member nations, does allow individuals to bring disputes before it. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is another court where a member-state can bring a case against another member-state, and the ECJ can issues preliminary opinions. The balance of Karambelas’ presentation outlined the various cases brought before these courts on the issue of property rights in Turkish occupied Cyprus and the importance of their judgments starting with the landmark Loizidou v. Turkey case heard by the ECHR. The court ruled that all deeds are still valid under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus and that Turkey is the responsible party. He also covered the cases of Xenides v. Turkey and Demades v. Turkey, which reaffirmed Loizidou; and the Apostolides v. Orams case, which upheld a lower court’s decision that a judgment of a court in the Republic of Cyprus must be recognized and enforced by all EU member states. This ruling reaffirmed the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, and the right of all Greek Cypriot dispossessed owners to their properties in occupied Cyprus was validated.
Panel 6: Religion, Cultural Heritage and Human Rights in Cyprus
Three panels provided vivid detail and images of Turkey’s alteration of the physical, cultural, and demographic character of occupied Cyprus in violation of countless treaties and international agreements.
Panel 7: The Prospects for Settlement and the Future
The final panel featured two presentations that provided a look at the current and future prospects for a Cyprus settlement amid the international context in which they are conducted.
Vice President of Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at Cato Institute Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter presented on the topic “The U.S. Role in a Cyprus Settlement.” He stated that the next year or two present a crucial opportunity to find settlement and cautioned that a failure to make a breakthrough may set back any chances for a settlement for decades. His message to the Obama administration was that Washington must abandon its “enabler” role of Turkey. Washington can go in either one of two directions: 1) hold Turkey to the standards of NATO and all democracies, or 2) continue to make Cyprus even more of a sacrificial pawn in the larger geopolitical picture of the region. Dr. Carpenter outlined the domestic and foreign policy factors at play in Turkey and affirmed that the power resides in Ankara to make meaningful decisions, such as any ones on the Cyprus issue. He believes the recent referendum taken in Turkey weakens its military’s status, and therefore, it is not the dominant player it once was. However, it is unclear yet what bearing this has, if any, toward Cyprus. With respect to Ankara’s new foreign policy, Dr. Carpenter stated it creates bilateral tensions with the U.S. Some examples he cited were: its vote in the UN in opposition to sanctions on Iran, conducting operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, and hostility toward Israel and antagonizing of Israeli supporters in the U.S. “Turkey is an unreliable ally at best,” he stated.
In evaluating what Turkey’s recent domestic and foreign policy actions mean for U.S. policy toward Cyprus, Dr. Carpenter described the current situation as a “tipping point.” He stated that Cyprus has always been a convenient diplomatic pawn to placate Turkey and altering Washington’s stance on Cyprus would mean punishing Turkey. “It is time for President Barack Obama to be a facilitator for peace and justice; not an enabler,” said Dr. Carpenter. The message to Turkey, Dr. Carpenter argues, should be one that includes no arms sales to Turkey unless an equitable solution is reached and no support for Turkey’s EU aspirations.
“Washington has an opportunity to erase a stain on its foreign policy honor,” he concluded, adding that the favorable time is now to make this correction.
“The Evolution of Cyprus in the Last 50 Years and the Elements of a Lasting Settlement” was the topic of Dr. Van Coufoudakis’ second presentation of the conference. In his presentation, Dr. Coufoudakis reviewed some milestone events during the 50-year history of the republic, calling its EU accession its biggest event since the 1974 invasion. He also scrutinized the roles of successive Cypriot governments since 1974 that have attempted to find a settlement to the Cyprus issue. Among his critiques of Cypriot governments were: a president negotiating with a communal leader and the volume of concessions made. However, Dr. Coufoudakis applauded the republic for its evolving liberal democracy, having acceded into the EU and in 2008, electing a president of its oldest political party.
“Cypriots ought to celebrate, learn from their errors, and not conform to gain the appeal of other parties,” he said.
Dr. Coufoudakis cautioned that any settlement that does not reverse the consequences of 1974 will meet the same fate of the Annan Plan. He concluded by calling for the return of Famagusta.
Andreas Akaras, foreign policy advisor, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), moderated the panel.
Conference Welcomes Guest Speakers at Special Events
AHIF hosted a dinner for participants and attendees on Monday, October 4, 2010. Ambassador Clay Constantinou, former American ambassador to Luxemburg, was the dinner chairman. The dinner program gathered leaders of the Greek American community, who spoke eloquently and passionately about the Republic of Cyprus’s 50-year history and the impact of the 1974 Turkish invasion upon all Cypriots and the Diaspora. The many relationships that have been forged and the advocacy efforts that were employed since the 1974 were recounted by speakers on the program.
These speakers included: Cypriot Ambassador to the U.S. Pavlos Anastasiades, Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Vassilis Kaskarelis, Philip Christopher, president, PSEKA, International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus; Tasos Zambas, chairman, Justice Committee, Cyprus Federation of America, AHEPA Supreme Governor Dr. Pete Nickolas, and AHI Founder and AHIF President Gene Rossides.
The Keynote Speaker was Ambassador Andreas Jacovides, former Cypriot ambassador to the U.S.
“Tribute is due to the American Hellenic Institute Foundation for organizing this great conference to mark the half century anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus, and to the Greek American community for all you have done for the cause of Cyprus over the years,” said the former ambassador. “In light of the eventful and turbulent experiences of the past 50 years, it can be stated with conviction that statehood and independence, even subject to the limitations imposed by the Zurich-London Agreements, has been an asset to be treasured and defended against the constant attempts to diminish and destroy it.”
Ambassador Jacovides continued by taking an objective look at U.S.-Cyprus relations over the past 50 years, citing positive events such as President John F. Kennedy’s hosting President Makarios on a State Visit to Washington and the efforts of President Lyndon Johnson and subsequent U.S. officials to defuse and prevent crises before 1974, and the negative developments that occurred including Secretary Kissinger’s policies. Moreover, Ambassador Jacovides commended the United Nations for its role in preserving Cyprus’s independence and defending the legitimacy of its government over the decades.
On the second day of the conference, AHI hosted a luncheon, chaired by AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, at where the audience heard from two of the community’s champions on Capitol Hill during the time of, and following the Turkish invasion of the Republic of Cyprus. They were former U.S. Rep. John Brademas, who is the president emeritus of New York University; and former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, who was in the U.S. House of Representatives at the time. Both men recalled the efforts of what they termed the “rule of law” lobby in Congress that would go on to successfully enact an embargo on Turkey in 1975 which lasted until 1978.
“We were the ‘rule of law’ lobby because the invasion of Cyprus by Turkish armed forces posed a challenge to the principles of international law and of course to values cherish by our country such as the rule of law, respect for human rights, and democratic governance,” said Brademas, who attributed the success of the lobby on the validity of its arguments and the work to generate support for its position among all Americans.
Added former Senator Sarbanes about the rule of law rationale, which AHI Founder Gene Rossides had helped develop so well, “It enable us in the course of these discussions in Congress, when we get these charges of ‘the Greek lobby,’ we say, ‘No, no. We’re an American lobby for American principles and American values. That is what we are trying to implement.’”
In addition to the embargo, Sarbanes listed other positive measures taken by Congress since the embargo, including the 10:7 ratio on military sales to keep balance in the region, foreign aid to Cyprus, which now stands at $11 million annually and close to $500 million since it was implemented to promote bicommunal relationships; and most recently, an increased focus on the desecration of Cyprus’s cultural and religious heritage in occupied Cyprus.
The former legislators also lauded AHI Foundation, Executive Director Larigakis, and the AHI staff for having the vision to organize such an important conference. Moreover, they commended AHI Founder and AHI Foundation President Rossides for his ceaseless efforts over the years, fighting for the rule of law and human rights on Cyprus.
“This is a very substance conference and I’ve sat through most of the sessions and I’m very impressed with the presentations,” said Sarbanes.
Also at the luncheon, remarks were provided by Jess Baily, director, Office of Southern European Affairs, U.S. Department of State. He stated that an integral part of the office is to work closely with organizations such as AHI on issues by keeping “an open and constructive dialogue.” In addition, Baily affirmed that the Cypriot-led negotiating process is the best way to achieve a just and lasting settlement to the Cyprus issue and that the U.S. supports a solution based upon a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, a single sovereignty, single citizenship, and single international personality. The senior Foreign Service official also acknowledged that the ongoing negotiations have been difficult but that the U.S. applauds “the courage and determination” of President Dimitris Christofias and Mr. Dervis Eroglu.
“We are encouraged by this effort [to step-up negotiations], and, as the leaders resume their talks this month, are hopeful they will reach convergences,” said Baily.
Finally, the audience heard from U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman Sherman reiterated his support of Greek American issues during his remarks.
For additional information, please contact Demetra Atsaloglou at (202) 785-8430 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at https://www.ahiworld.org.
Landmark Conference Marks Republic of Cyprus’s 50th Anniversary