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AHI Letter Responds to Washington Times Article
June 22, 2006—No. 56 (202) 785-8430

AHI Letter Responds to Washington Times Article

Washington, DC—On May 31, 2006, AHI President Gene Rossides submitted a letter to the editor responding to a Washington Times article titled “Turkish Cypriot chief rips isolation” (May 31, 2006; Page A13). The text of the letter appears below, followed by the Washington Timesarticle to which the letter responds.

May 31, 2006

Letters to the Editor 
The Washington Times 
3600 New York Avenue, NE 
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Editor: 
In discussing the so-called ‘isolation’ of Turkish Cypriots (May 31, 2006), your article fails to mention that these ‘isolation’ policies were implemented by leaders in Ankara, not the Republic of Cyprus.

For years, the Turkish government has blamed this self-imposed ‘isolation’ on Greek Cypriots. Yet, the Ankara leadership with its apartheid policy erected the Green Line barbed wire fence, which—in both a practical and symbolic way—separates Turkish Cypriots from the rest of the island backed-up by Turkey’s 40,000 illegal occupation troops. Remove the barbed wire fence and Turkey’s troops and the ‘isolation’ ends overnight.

Unfortunately, any Turkish Cypriots who are discontented in their current situation have only Turkey and its leaders to blame. After all, if the leaders in Ankara are truly serious about fixing the Cyprus problem, why don’t they withdraw the 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers who are on the island in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949 and redeploy their 40,000 troops? Why won’t they acknowledge the illegality of their 1974 invasion that resulted in extensive loss of life and massive destruction of property?

The success of the limited opening of the Green Line in April 2003 proves that Greek and Turkish Cypriots can live and work together peacefully. Since the opening, thousands of people have made the crossing daily without major incident.

Your article’s discussion of the Greek Cypriots’ opposition to the UN reunification plan would have been more useful if it had included their very logical rationale. The Greek Cypriots exposed the reunification plan for what it really was: undemocratic, unworkable, not financially viable and not compatible with the EU’s acquis-communautaire, UN resolutions and the European Convention on Human Rights. Hence, it is ironic that the Greek Cypriots are often blamed in the press for their rejection of the flawed UN plan.

By referring to Mehmet Ali Talat as the “Northern Cyprus President,” your article articulates only the Turkish point of view. In effect, you are giving credibility to an entity that the world—including the US and the UN—do not recognize. Turkey is the only nation that acknowledges the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.’ Given the past and present actions of the Ankara government, don’t expect world opinion to change.


Gene Rossides 
President, American Hellenic Institute

Turkish Cypriot chief rips isolation 
By Gareth Harding
May 31, 2006

NICOSIA, Cyprus—Northern Cyprus President Mehmet Ali Talat says the European Union has failed to follow through on a pledge to end the isolation of his self-proclaimed republic, doing less in that respect than the United States.

The European Union has earmarked $300 million in aid to the north as a reward for its citizens' acceptance of a U.N. plan for reunification of the island in a 2004 referendum. Greek Cypriots on the southern half of the island overwhelmingly rejected the plan.

But in two years since the referendums, the Europeans "haven't moved," Mr. Talat said during a recent interview in this divided capital.

"The United States is doing more to end the isolation of north Cyprus than the EU," he said. The sense of isolation is acute in this community of 260,000 people, which Turkish forces occupied in 1974 after a coup by Athens-backed Greek Cypriots. Ankara still has more than 30,000 troops in the north, and Turkey is the only country in the world to recognize the Turkish Cypriot ministate.

There are no direct flights to north Cyprus, phone calls and postal services are administered by Turkey, and most countries are forbidden from trading with the republic.

"Socially, we feel the isolation," said Cim Kiyat, a 24-year-old interpreter. "No pop stars come here. There is no McDonald's. We can't have a football match with a foreign team, and you cannot leave the country to go abroad without passing though Istanbul."

While Europe has done little to end that isolation, the United States has twice invited Mr. Talat to Washington for meetings with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor, Colin L. Powell.

More recently, a delegation of U.S. congressmen visited the north to look at ways of ending its quarantine, and the Bush administration has extended the length of visas for Turkish Cypriots and allocated funds to help the ailing economy.

In the interview, Mr. Talat argued for increased efforts to bring his territory into the international community.

"By lifting the isolation, the unification of the island will become more imminent," he said.

In a separate interview, Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer pledged that if the north's ports and airports are allowed to open and the international trade blockade is lifted, the republic would fully open its borders to the south and create a common economic space on the island.

But the U.N. reunification plan—which was rejected by three-quarters of Greek Cypriots on the same day it was accepted by two-thirds of Turkish Cypriots—is on hold, and there is little sign of it being revived.

Greek-Cypriot parties that campaigned against the plan were rewarded with gains in parliamentary elections 10 days ago.

Asked if he would agree to face-to-face negotiations with Republic of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, Mr. Talat replied: "I am ready for talks anytime he wants. I've invited him many times to meet—socially or formally—but he has continuously declined."


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