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American Hellenic Institute Foundation Holds Capitol Hill Conference on Cyprus


June 12, 1998 No. 24/98


On June 10, 1998 the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) in cooperation with the Hellenic American National Council (HANC) and Hellenic American Women's Council (HAWC) presented a conference on Capitol Hill on The United States and Cyprus: The Challenges for American Foreign Policy.

Congressional speakers included Senator Gordon Smith, Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, Representative Ben Gilman, Chairman House International Relations Committee, and Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and Representatives Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Ron Klink (D-PA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Pappas (R-NJ), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Brad Sherman (D-CA).

The Administration was represented by Ambassador Thomas Miller, Special Coordinator for Cyprus.

HE Andros Nicolaides, Ambassador of Cyprus delivered the keynote luncheon address. Greetings were given by HE Loucas Tsilas, Ambassador of Greece, and the Honorable Eleftherios Veryvakis, Chairman, the Greek Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs.

Private sector and academic speakers included Ambassador Tom Boyatt, President, Boyatt Woods Enterprises, who as the Cyprus Desk Officer in 1974 opposed then Secretary Henry Kissinger's policies toward Turkey and Cyprus, Professor Van Coufoudakis, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University, and Professor Elizabeth Prodromou, Princeton University.

The conference covered the full range of issues relating to U.S. policy toward Cyprus. Among key insights presented were the following:

Chairman Gordon Smith: "I have a strong personal interest in making sure that the U.S. relationship with Greece and Cyprus works."

"President Clerides is open, offering a multiplicity of solutions, willing to cooperate. I did not find the same openness from Mr. Denktash, but I found demands that frankly made negotiations very difficult to start."

Senator Joe Biden: "The bottom line is the Turks, no matter how you cut it. Right now, it is the Turks. They are not involved. They are not engaged."

"Recognition of the so-called 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' is a non-starter."

"Holbrooke hit a stone wall of Turkish Cypriot obduracy in the form of two preconditions: recognition of the 'TRNC' and withdrawal of Cyprus' application to the European Union."

Senator Paul Sarbanes: "For the first time the U.S. in no uncertain terms has assigned blame for the impasse. Upon the conclusion of his recent visit [May 1-3], Ambassador Holbrooke announced that the Turkish side had in effect failed to negotiate in good faith."

Chairman Ben Gilman: "We are hearing from certain Turkish officials that the present situation on Cyprus, a division on the island and 35,000 Turkish troops is a solution, their solution. This of course is completely unacceptable to our nation and the international community."

"Cyprus cannot and must not be held hostage to the problems within Turkey."

Rob Andrews: "The Cyprus question, the question of Turkish aggression in the Aegean, the question of continuous Turkish aggression against their own people and against other people in the region is the responsibility of the Turkish military leadership. Make no mistake about it. The Turkish state is the captive of the military leadership of that country. The civil leadership, I believe, is a symbolic, ritualistic leadership, not a real leadership."

Michael Bilirakis: "Turkey has been intransigent. Turkey has been stubborn. Cyprus has not built up its defense or anything of that nature. So Turkey acting the way they are and rationalizing that with the S-300 delivery is just blowing smoke."

Ron Klink: "We cannot forget Turkey is the aggressor. They are the provocateur."
"We cannot allow geostrategy to get in the way of what is right."

Carol Maloney: "Denktash is the brickwall. Denktash came forward with absolutely impossible conditions."

Robert Menendez: "Ankara is responsible for the lack of progress in Cyprus and Denktash is the intransigent party in the negotiations."
"Peace in Cyprus begins when the last boot of the last Turkish soldier leaves the northern occupied side."

Mike Pappas: "Looking over to the north and seeing the devastation there and the lack of hope and opportunity, it is literally night and day."

Donald Payne: "I am also a little concerned with the activities between Israel and Turkey having maneuvers militarily. I do not think we should encourage that. I think we should tell Israel that they should not be engaged with Turkey in the maneuvers out in the ocean which seem like intimidation. It is not good."

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: "Now is the time for the Administration to bring the heat of the government's full weight and pressure to Turkey so that Turkey gets out of Cyprus once and for all."

Brad Sherman: "It is time to recognize the legitimate defense needs of Cyprus and to be willing to have some really excellent missiles made in Southern California available."
"We should not be talking to Denktash. We should be talking to the Turkish General Staff. That is the puppeteer."

Ambassador Tom Miller: "We think a lot of the answer to the Cyprus problem lies in Ankara. At that press conference [May 4 in Nicosia] for the first time I can ever tell we pointed the finger where it should have been pointed. We said that the responsibility for the lack of progress on this occasion was on the Turkish side."
"The Turkish side set out certain preconditions. We are not going to recognize the, and I put it in quotes, 'TRNC.' And the second thing they [the Turkish side] insisted on was that the Republic of Cyprus withdraw its application for European Union membership. And we also said on this one--it was not going to happen."
"Threats to attack Cyprus are unacceptable. Any attack on the missiles would have serious consequences for our relationship."
"We are not going to give up. This [deadlock in Nicosia] was a set-back. I will not promise before you today that we are definitely going to succeed. I will promise you we are going to fall on our swords in trying."
"We support the unconditional accession of Cyprus to the European Union."

Ambassador Nicolaides: "Not only does the Turkish side refuse to cooperate but constantly demands more concessions on our part and puts new unacceptable preconditions to return to the negotiating table."

Ambassador Tsilas: "Cyprus is a cause for everyone. Might does not make right."

Mr. Veryvakis: "The Cyprus problem is a glaring anachronism."

Ambassador Boyatt: "A Cyprus solution is possible, but it is only possible if the U.S. steps up to its responsibilities and remembers its own guilt for the status quo in Cyprus. So we have a redemption factor here."

Dr. Coufoudakis: "We cannot accept schemes that will destroy the Republic of Cyprus and will sanction the fruits of aggression."
"We must not allow the latest plans of the Departments of State and Defense to be implemented."
"Cyprus and Greece, like the United States, support a stable, democratic, secular, European, and rule-of-law oriented Turkey. Their differences with Washington today are on how to achieve these goals. We strongly believe that this cannot be done through the appeasement of Turkey because this will place at risk the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus and Greece."

Professor Prodromou: "US policy has predictably pushed Turkey toward rogue state behaviors. Turkey is fast turning into a rogue state."

AHIF President Eugene T. Rossides delivered the final paper in which he called for a realistic U.S. policy based on the true issues. Mr. Rossides pointed to the U.S. complicity in the 1974 Turkish invasion. He stated that "the U.S. needs to concentrate on the true issues of aggression, occupation, and American values. The Administration's present fallacious approach allows Turkey to deny these issues, causing the negotiations to degenerate into a barren process. The time has come to put U.S. policy onto a realistic basis by engaging the true issues. What is lacking is political will in the White House and State Department."

Professor Van Coufoudakis was the conference program coordinator and Dr. Dean Lomis, Director Emeritus, University of Delaware International Center, acted as moderator.

The conference proceedings will be published.