By Gene Rossides
The State Departmentʼs continuing appeasement of Turkey to the detriment of U.S. interests is best exemplified by recent statements of Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. He assumed his present position in June 2005. Prior he was on the staff of the National Security Council (NSC) where he served from April 2001 to June 2005. On the NSC he served as Director for Europe and Eurasia, with responsibility for coordinating U.S. policy on Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Caspian energy. His areas of responsibility at the State Department are similar. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1988.
The policies he is pursuing are those set forth by former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman. Grossman retired in early 2005 and joined the lobbying firm, The Cohen Group, of former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. In general the pro-Turkey appeasement policies pursued by Marc Grossman have not changed, with one exception.
The present Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, sworn in on May 17, 2005, authorized a speech in June 2006 by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Dan Fried which stated categorically that the U.S. recognized only one government in Cyprus.
In a previous article I welcomed the statement by Mr. Fried because there was a feeling that the U.S. under Grossmanʼs policies was moving towards recognizing the illegal regime in the occupied north of Cyprus. However, in that article I also questioned the State Departmentʼs desire for a settlement of the Cyprus problem because of the issues Mr. Fried did not address, such as the removal of the 35,000 Turkish occupation forces illegally in Cyprus, the 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers (in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949) and the Turkish barbed wire fence across Cyprus.
Members of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) met with Under Secretary Burns at his initiative on April 24, 2006 to discuss the Cyprus issue and U.S. relations with Greece and Turkey. At a follow-up meeting on August 28, Mr. Burns informed us that the views we expressed in April were a key factor leading to Friedʼs June speech. Mr. Burns also stressed the excellent cooperation of the government of Cyprus and the tremendous efforts of the people of Cyprus in their important assistance in the evacuation of over 14,000 Americans from Lebanon.
On secondary issues such as Greece, Turkey and Cyprus the views the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the highest ranking career official, usually prevail. In our discussions with Mr. Burns we covered the topics set forth in AHIʼs 2006 Greek American Policy Statements endorsed by AHEPA, the Hellenic American National Council, the Cyprus Federation of America and the other major membership organizations. He stated he would get back to us.
At the NSC, Matt Bryza reflected a clear pro-Turkish attitude. He supported the flawed, and indeed infamous, Annan Plan which was undemocratic, unworkable, not financially viable and which absolved and rewarded the aggressor Turkey and punished the victims the Greek Cypriots. It actually required the Greek Cypriots to pay themselves for damages caused by Turkey. The Annan Plan, as I have written before, would have, in effect, made Cyprus a protectorate of Turkey and Britain.
Mr. Bryza, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State continues, in effect, to support the Annan Plan. At a press conference on July 21, 2006 on his return from a ten day trip to Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, in response to a question on the status of the Annan Plan and whether itʼs off the table, he stated:
“I would just repeat what I said, that the basic ideas that are – that became known as the Annan Plan reflect wisdom and hard work and a spirit of fairness, I would argue.”
To suggest that the “basic ideas” of “the Annan Plan reflect wisdom…and a spirit of fairness” is nonsense, is false, is misleading and an example of appeasement of Turkey. I refer Mr. Bryza to Claire Palleyʼs book, An International Relations Debacle, on the Annan Plan negotiations and to Greg Copleyʼs and Nick Karambelasʼ book reviews of Palleyʼs book and AHIʼs analysis (see AHI website).
Mr. Bryza did recognize the positive momentum of UN Under Secretary General Gambariʼs visit to Cyprus and the establishment of technical committees and agreement to exchange lists for substantive discussions.
The Turkish Cypriot isolation issue
Turkey has alleged that the Turkish Cypriots are isolated because of actions of the government of Cyprus. The AHI and I have repeatedly pointed out that this is false for obvious reasons, namely the Turkish governmentʼs 35,000 occupation troops illegally in Cyprus, the Turkish barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus, the 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers/colonists from Turkey in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949 and Turkeyʼs apartheid policy. The Turkish Cypriot isolation is caused solely by the Turkish governmentʼs actions and not the rule of law actions of the Cyprus government.
Former Under Secretary Grossman initiated the U.S. adoption of Turkeyʼs blatantly false isolation argument. Mr. Bryza is the current State Department official voicing this erroneous view which is detrimental to the negotiation process for a fair and just settlement of the Cyprus problem. In his July 21, 2006 press conference, Bryza responded to a question from a Turkish reporter from the Anatolia News Agency asking “what does the U.S. government plan to help these people [Turkish Cypriots] end their isolation?”
Mr. Bryza responded “that we have done a number of things….We are providing $30.5 million in assistance…to the Turkish Cypriot community….So we are already actively working to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots—or to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots.”
Mr. Bryzaʼs comments are a prime example of the State Departmentʼs continuing appeasement of Turkey. His continuing adoption of the Turkish governmentʼs argument and his failure to respond to those, including AHI, who point out the real cause of the Turkish Cypriots isolation: the Turkish army, the Turkish barbed wire fence and the illegal Turkish settlers/colonists, is rank appeasement of Turkey. Further, it is a deliberate effort to mislead the American public regarding the Cyprus problem.
The opening of several crossing points in the barbed wire green line fence two years ago has led to over 10,000,000 million crossings by Turkish and Greek Cypriots without serious incident which destroys Turkeyʼs argument that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots cannot live and work together as they did before Turkeyʼs apartheid policy.
We are hopeful that Under Secretary Burns will have time to review these and other matters of concern to the Greek American community in the interests of the U.S.
Additionally it is important to point out, to stress that the appeasement of Turkey by the U.S. is not necessary. Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, a leading conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., in remarks at an AHI conference on Capitol Hill commemorating the 32nd year of Turkeyʼs invasion of Cyprus and occupation of 37.3% of Cyprus, stated the following:
“The United States in many respects is a fairly unique country in that its always been a foreign policy challenge for America to reconcile its moral values and its national interests. Moral values have always been for the vast majority of Americans a very important consideration. Thatʼs one reason why Henry Kissingerʼs brand of Realpolitik has never played very well with the vast majority of Americans.
Weʼve seen this desire to reconcile values and interests on numerous occasions…. Just one example of the dilemma that we face, is that it is necessary for the United States to cooperate with a variety of authoritarian and at times unsavory regimes in the war against radical Islamic terrorism. Itʼs not much of a pleasure, and itʼs certainly not an honor to have to work with the regime in Saudi Arabia for example or the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan but given the enemy we face it is necessary.
But America really betrays its heritage when it needlessly compromises important moral values. Washingtonʼs policy toward the Cyprus issue is perhaps the most glaring example. The reaction to the 1974 invasion and occupation, at the very least, the U.S. stood by and watched as a NATO ally geographically raped a small neighbor. Gene Rossides, of course, makes a compelling case that Washington was even more culpable- that U.S. officials connived with Turkey in its aggression. (Emphasis in original)
In the intervening 32 years, the U.S. has acted with generalized indifference as Turkey enjoyed the fruits of its aggression. Turkey brought to Cyprus tens of thousands of Turkish settlers, and Ankaraʼs repeated defiance of rulings from the European Court on the rights of Greek Cypriot property owners despoiled by the 1974 invasion was met with anemic and pro-forma U.S. protests at Ankaraʼs rogue behavior –when they were made at all.
I am not suggesting that the U.S. should have used force to expel Turkish forces from Cyprus. America does not have a vital interest at stake in the dispute, and American military forces should be put at risk only for the defense of vital interests. But Washington could have– and should have– made it clear early on that a close, friendly relationship between the U.S. and Turkey would be impossible as long as Turkey persisted in its aggression. Even if U.S. leaders were reluctant to take that step as long as they believed they needed Turkey in the struggle against the Soviet Union, that justification no longer applied once the Cold War came to an end. Yet, Washingtonʼs pro-Turkish tilt on Cyprus has persisted.
Washingtonʼs reaction to the rejection of the Annan Plan was very telling. U.S. officials expressed annoyance with Greek Cypriot voters for voting down that plan, despite its numerous unjust or unworkable features. Even worse was embracing the doctrine of moral equivalence between aggressor and victim. This involved placing the bulk of the blame on the victim. In essence, U.S. officials seem willing to go along with Ankaraʼs long-standing position that the Cyprus issue is settled with the defacto division of the island– unless a new agreement can be reached on Turkeyʼs terms.
What of the future? Washington is less fond of Ankara these days. Primarily because of differences of Iraq policy and the signs of surging radical Islamic and anti-American sentiment in Turkey. If relations between the U.S. and Turkey cool further, Washington may alter its position on the Cyprus issue to “punish” Ankara. Be watching for that development. Cyprus policy has been a stain on Americaʼs honor for 32 years. It is time–indeed it is long overdue– to remove that stain.”
When is the U.S. going to take a forth right stand on the basic issues regarding Cyprus, namely Turkeyʼs invasion and occupation; “constitutional government based on majority rule, the rule of law and protection of minority rights” as called for by former President George H.W. Bush; the immediate removal of Turkeyʼs troops, settlers and barbed wire fence?
Call and write to President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, your two senators and your representative and ask them to stop the appeasement of Turkey and double standards applied to Turkey and to stand up for American values.
**** Gene Rossides is President of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury