New York.- by Apostolis Zoupaniotis
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has said that the friendly relations between the United States and Turkey and their strategic interests in that country are not incompatible with simultaneous US support of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Greek Cypriots.
In a speech on Monday evening at the New York University on ”Cyprus, EU Accession and the New Regional Strategic Relation with the US,” President Papadopoulos said ”the question arises how can a great democracy like the US cooperate in perpetuating a massive violation of the human rights of the Greek Cypriot refugees in their own country, the expropriation of property, the violation of their right to property which is an individual right, and how can a big democracy like the US promote policies which perpetuate the division of my country and the continuing suffering of its people.”
”In my judgment the answer is simple: the relations of the US with Turkey, Turkey being considered as the most valuable ally of the US, more so in the present energy crisis and situation, the US will never do anything which may upset Turkey or would be contrary to the wishes of Turkey. That we wouldn’t mind. We don’t ever want to put the US or anybody in the dilemma of choosing between Turkey and Cyprus because we know that the choice would be against us. Anybody would choose Turkey against Cyprus, more so the US,” he said.
He added however that the US, ”by developing relations with Cyprus, and at the same time supporting the human rights, the fundamental principles of Greek Cypriot citizens, is not incompatible with their friendship with Turkey.”
”We believe that there is no room for choice, that both can go in parallel,” he said and wondered ”how can you bring about better certification of the relations with the US, how can you strengthen and make a more strong and robust strategic relation with the US?”
President Papadopoulos noted that ”the answer is simple, we do not ask the US to abandon its most valuable ally, all we ask is for a more balanced consideration of our positions, of our rights, the rights of the ordinary Greek Cypriot citizens, respect for their human rights and the fundamental liberties that any citizen enjoys anywhere in the world in a democracy and the recognition of the strategic value of Cyprus, which I think is obvious to many.”
”At the same time we are fully aware of our small size and limited capabilities. We cannot play a significant role in world affairs, we cannot influence the policies of the superpower, the only superpower remaining in the world, when its own interests seem to be served better by our own enemy,” he said.
President Papadopoulos pointed out that ”we know our smallness and our military insignificance,” adding that ”throughout history, our sufferings through the ages have come about as a result of being a small country overpowered by the military might of our neighbours, especially a neighbour like Turkey.”
He explained that ”this is why in turn we rely on international law, on justice, on human rights as the shield and rely on the good will of people who still believe in principles, people who live in the US and think their country should be the champion of liberties of the individual, of human rights and of democracy.”
”We still believe that there are many people around the world who believe in respect for the territorial integrity of a country, for human rights and international law. This much we ask from you,” he concluded.
The speech was attended by over 200 persons, among which members of the university, students, members of the diplomatic corps, UN officials, US and Greek reporters, and members of the Cypriot and Greek communities in the US.
Later on, President Papadopoulos and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and Greece, George Lillikas and Dora Bakoyiannis, attended a dinner hosted in their honour by President of the Cyprus Federation of America Panicos Papanicolaou in the presence of Archbishop Demetrios, Senator Paul Sarbanes and other dignitaries of the Cypriot community.