Washington.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Turkish Cypriots will do whatever they can to find a solution to the Cyprus problem which will reunite the island, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat has said after a meeting with the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Responding to press questions, Talat said he did not raise any specific issues at Friday’s meeting with Rice but he did ask the US to help end what he called the “isolation” of the Turkish Cypriots and to encourage other countries to do the same, so that economic development among the Turkish Cypriots is achieved.
Referring to a UN-proposed solution plan (the Annan plan), he said that this is “a unique opportunity for a solution of the Cyprus problem” and reiterated that the plan was accepted by the Turkish Cypriots but rejected by the Greek Cypriots.
The 30-minute meeting with Rice, Talat said, was “pleasant, useful and constructive”. During the meeting, as he said, they talked about different aspects of the Cyprus problem and the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side as well as the American view were expressed.
A State Department spokesman stated after the meeting there is not any change in the American stance or any new element in connection with issues such as the use of ports and airports in Cyprus’ Turkish occupied areas by American ships and aircraft.
During the meeting, he said, there was a discussion about the efforts to reunite the island.
The invitation to Talat was condemned by the political leadership in Cyprus, saying it does not help efforts to reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
An invitation to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community to meet US Secretary of State does not promote the reunification of Cyprus but divisive tendencies, President Tassos Papadopoulos has said, adding that it also creates hope that the self-styled regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus could be given a separate legal entity.
Speaking on his return from Thursday’s European Union informal summit, he also said that UN Secretary General himself will decide how and when he will continue his initiative towards a settlement, adding that before the end of the year Kofi Annan will send to the island his envoys.
Papadopoulos pointed out that when Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat speaks about a solution in Cyprus he means the return of a UN-proposed plan, rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots and approved by the Turkish Cypriots.
“The US move promotes divisive tendencies instead of bringing about reunification. Furthermore, it creates hope that the occupation regime could possibly be upgraded to a separate legal entity. Such moves do not help either the effort for a solution or the island’s reunification, on the contrary they consolidate divisive objectives of the occupation regime,” Papadopoulos said.
“What Talat means when he is talking about a solution and reunification is to have the Annan plan come back, something we believe will lead to neither of these goals,” the President said.
Responding to questions about UN moves to resume negotiations, he said Annan “will decide when and how he will carry on with his initiative.”
“All indications are that the Secretary General had some thoughts about certain steps, I stress, steps but this does not mean talks. Whether he continues to think along this line, I am not in a position to know,” he said, adding that before the end of the year Anna will send to Cyprus his envoys.
On allegations by Talat about “ill treatment of Turkish Cypriots” by Greek Cypriots, he said there is one specific case before the Courts but he knew of no maltreatment of Turkish Cypriots.
“Reports of ill treatment of Greek Cypriots are far more,” he concluded.
AHI President Gene Rossides has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice protesting her forthcoming meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, noting that the invitation only encourages his continued intransigence on Cyprus.
”This decision is not in the best interests of the United States as it relates to supporting a just and viable solution to the 31-year old Cyprus problem caused by Turkey’s illegal invasion of Cyprus in 1974”, Rossides says, adding that “it can also be perceived that the US is upgrading politically the illegal regime in northern occupied Cyprus”.
“Mr. Talat receives his instructions from Turkey, which is the creator, protector and facilitator of this pseudo regime”, Rossides says.
Noting that the Turkish – occupied area of Cyprus forms an illegal entity under international law and is not recognized by any nation except Turkey as well as the presence of illegal troops and settlers in the north, Rossides underlines that the State Department’s policy is shockingly misguided and exhibits a lack of knowledge of the facts regarding the Cyprus problem.
“Unfortunately, ever since 76% of the Greek Cypriots voted against the undemocratic, unworkable and financially not viable, Annan Plan, the Department of State has been openly looking for ways to shift the blame on to the Greek Cypriots by pursuing certain incremental measures”, the letter says.
These measures, according to AHI, have included officials from the Transportation Security Administration conducting inspection of airports in the illegally occupied north; the illegal authorization by the State Department for direct visits of U.S. officials and members of Congress to the occupied north; and exploring ways whereby direct U.S. flights can proceed directly to the occupied north.
He further notes that Secretary Rice has stated in an interview with Kanal-D TV, with regard to the situation in Cyprus, “…we are looking at what we can do to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots because we, like everyone else, were disappointed that the Annan plan was not adopted. We have taken some steps, direct aid for instance to Turkish Cypriots, but there are probably other things that we should look at doing…”
Concluding, Rossides suggests that the so-called isolation of the T/C could be eased overnight by asking Turkey to remove the 40,000 illegal Turkish occupation troops, the 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers and the Turkish Green Line barbed wire fence.
Our position should be to support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing the key American principles of majority rule, the rule of law and protection of minority rights, the EU acquis communautaire, UN resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European Courts, Rossides concludes in his letter to US Secretary of State.