NEW YORK.- by Apostolos Zoupaniotis
The Greek American Community disappointed from the outcome of the Cyprus talks in Lucerne, Switzerland, and frustrated by the pressure to the Cypriot leadership to accept the comprehensive settlement plan of Kofi Annan, have started a campaign to inform Washington about its feelings. Clear messages were already sent to President Bush and his senior advisors, when Greek American mogul Alex Spanos and Archbishop Demetrios, held separate private meetings with him, in Washington D.C., last week.
According to well informed sources, President Bush showed surprise when Coordinating Efforts Coordinator, Andy Manatos, informed him about the great disappointment of the Greek Americans for the policies of his administration toward Cyprus.
On Tuesday a community meeting will be held in Astoria New York, organized by the Federation of Hellenic Societies, Cyprus Federation and PSEKA. At the same time, thousands of e-mails, letters and telegrams were sent with the encouragement of HEC to President Bush, Secretary of State Collin Powel and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, condemning the plan, for violating international and European Law and the Human Rights of the people of Cyprus.
“People that follow the Cyprus problem are very disappointed with the final product and everybody has already expressed strong feelings against this plan”, said Cyprus Federation President, Peter Papanicolaou.
Philip Christopher, CEO of Audiovox and President of International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus, said that “We, as American citizens are very unhappy with the plan”.
“I felt, and I still feel, he told GreekNews, that our government should have played a more instrumental role in making sure that this plan was way more equitable for both sides, that it provided equal human rights for both sides and unfortunately, the plan that was submitted is a plan based on two separate states with the powers laying on the states, a separation rather than bringing a country together. It is based on bringing the two ethnic groups apart”.
Christopher predicted then plan would be rejected by the Greek Cypriots, at the referendum of April 24.
“I think the next few weeks will define whether we have matured as a community, whether we have the ability to put our differences aside and unite towards a common goal”, he said, pointing out that Greek Americans have the opportunity in the next few weeks to bring politically to the United States Congress and to this administration the inequities that exist in the Annan plan in such a way that plainly could be understood by any American citizen.
“It is my hope that we will be successful and first and most of all I think the plan has to be a two phase plan: one between now and April 24, when the referendum takes place, and based on the assumption, that the referendum will be defeated by the Greek- Cypriots, phase two is to prevent and eliminate any negative consequences because of this referendum. Between now and April 24, what we have to do is to bring to light the undemocratic and all the negative sections of the Anan plan plainly so any person could understand why we are against it”.
Philip Christopher warned Bush of the negative impact the continuation of the present Cyprus policy of his government, to his re-election efforts.
“It is an election year, for the political people to understand very plainly, that the Greek- American community is very unhappy. Our message is that the victim of 1974 is about to be victimized again and we have to make it clear that the community is unhappy about that.
In order to do that, there are new personalities that come into play. Not necessarily the State Department, but more important those people that are running the campaign for President Bush. Those people that in one word can tell President Bush, that if Florida for example, where there is 100,000 Greek votes, if we had the ability to maneuver that those 100,000 Greek votes would go against Bush, unless we are satisfied that Bush will take some action. Or in the state of New Jersey, which is regarded critical, or in the state of Pennsylvania, or Ohio, Illinois, Michigan. So, if the election is as expected to be very close and in critical states between the Democrats and the Republicans is going to be a difference of less than 100,000 votes, then our votes in Florida, in Chicago, in Pennsylvania, In New Jersey, in Detroit, Michigan, those votes, regardless of how many they are, if there is 50,000 votes that can be plainly identified then they become a very-very strong weapon for us”.
The leadership of various major Greek American national organizations met on Thursday in Washington DC to discuss the course of action to be followed.
“We had meetings with the President of PSEKA and the President of SAE and the President of the Coordinated Effort, of the Pancyprian in Washington and we agreed that the next few weeks will be very critical for us. We are trying first to inform members of Congress, speak with people in the administration about the objections we have on this plan and also we want to make sure that the day after the referendum that we secure that the process will continue without having to pay any price, because, as the President said, the people of Cyprus should be left alone to make their decision”, said Peter Papanicolaou.
PSEKA’s alternate President, Savvas Tsivicos, told GreekNews he expects the pressure by the international community to be intense
“In their mind, as it was stated, there is an agreement that is going to go to a referendum. But it’s very important to start planning from now our strategies for the future, because the aim was and still is and will be, the reunification of Cyprus. A reunification that is going to last, that is going to guarantee and safeguard the basic freedoms and the fundamental human rights of all Cypriots and is going to create an environment in which both communities, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish- Cypriots, can prosper”.
Tsivicos thinks the support of the friends of Cyprus in Congress will continue.
“I have spoken to several members that have supported us over the years. They are outraged of some of the elements that were included in the proposed solution and many of them are comparing those anachronistic elements that are contained in the plan with the laws and regulations that we have here and what our real experience is within a real federation here in the United States. And I think our aim and our goal should be to compare the elements contained in the Annan plan with the United States constitution because I think that would be the easiest way to convince Congressmen, Senators and the rest in the government how unfair and unworkable would be. I am hopeful the next day will be promising and we must make every effort, as I said earlier, through the European Union, as a full member to create an environment”.