CYPRUS: Letter to the Editor: The Embassy of Cyprus responds to Saad S. Khan`s article
Miltos Miltiadou

24 March, 2004

Dear Editor:

Saad S. Khan has some of the pertinent facts wrong while he ignores some others in "One last chance," (Debate, Diplomatic Traffic, 22 March, 2004), concerning the current UN efforts to reunite Cyprus. To begin with, the Republic of Cyprus comprises all of the island of Cyprus (not the "southern Greek-dominated areas" as he writes), including of course the areas that have been under illegal military occupation by Turkey since 1974. Only the British Sovereign Base areas on the island are not part of the The Republic of Cyprus. The declaration of the so called "TRNC" in the Turkish occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus in 1983, has been denounced by the UN Security Council as "legally invalid," because it was a secessionist effort prompted by Turkey, to dismember the independent, sovereign Republic of Cyprus, member of the UN. It was yet another act of aggression against Cyprus. That is why, as Mr. Khan writes, it is "a widely condemned breakaway state," and remains unrecognized by the international community. So, to set the record straight, the UN sponsored talks aim to reunite the Republic of Cyprus - the government controlled area of the country, with the area that has been under military occupation by Turkey since 1974, - and to restore its territorial integrity under a federal structure and with a new name "The United Cyprus Republic."

Mr. Khan implies, as others have observed, that the UN Plan is heavily weighed in favor of the Turkish side. Be that as it may, the Greek Cypriot side has accepted the UN proposals from the outset as a basis for negotiations and has engaged in the resulting dialogue constructively. It was the Turkish Cypriot leader, strongly supported by Ankara, who rejected the UN framework as "diabolical" and as "a crime against humanity" and subsequently withdrew from the peace process in March 2003. The world has been waiting for the government of Turkey for 30 years to begin to realize that its aggression on Cyprus must end, and Cyprus must be reunified. And it did so only when it became crystal clear that its military aggression against Cyprus is an obstacle to its own EU aspirations. The Greek Cypriots and the UN have been waiting for nearly a year for the Turkish side to return to the reunification talks which they abandoned last year at The Hague. By his own admission, the Turkish Cypriot leader joined the talks reluctantly. And of course he has refused to participate in the second phase of the negotiations in
Switzerland, while he keeps denouncing the UN peace process. It is not possible to achieve an agreement without dedicated and reliable peace partners on the other side.

Mr. Khan writes that "Denktash may be right when he accuses the Greek Cypriot side of rejecting each and every one of his proposals," but he is obviously unfamiliar with those outrageous proposals and Mr. Denktash"s overall negative attitude in the talks which aimed to undermine the UN reunification process. He deliberately adopted hard-line positions, decidedly outside the UN framework, that would very predictably be rejected, including his persistent demand for "two states and two sovereignties" on Cyprus. He has in fact never negotiated seriously for the genuine reunification of Cyprus.

Mr. Khan is wrong to imply that the "Greeks" are adamant at the talks. Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos has been engaged in the UN process since the day of his inauguration as President of Cyprus. He has responded constructively throughout the negotiations and has made sensible proposals that are within the UN plan and which aim to make the final agreement comprehensible and self-executing. And this has been acknowledged by outside observers.

The Turkish side has clearly been responsible for the impasse in the UN peace process, even though the "UN plan involves major concessions by the Greek Cypriots to encourage Mr. Denktash," as The Providence Journal noted on February 27. On the other hand, as President Papadopoulos stated many times, "All our proposals seek to improve functionality and we do not ask to take anything from the Turkish Cypriots," adding that the Greek Cypriot side, "has limited the issues we have raised to those necessary for securing the implementation of an agreement and its functionality."

The reunification of our country remains the top priority of the Cyprus government, and the vast majority of the people of Cyprus. That is why President Papadopoulos has been tirelessly promoting a comprehensive solution that would be functional and viable and which will serve the interests of both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. Hopefully, such an outcome will be possible before May 1 when Cyprus joins the EU. And for the record, the entire Republic of Cyprus will be admitted into the European Union not just "the southern Greek controlled area," as Mr. Kahn writes. But if Cyprus is not reunited by May 1, the EU rules and regulations will be suspended in the Republic"s area occupied by Turkey until reunification is achieved.

Miltos Miltiadou
Press Counselor
Embassy of Cyprus
Washington, D.C.