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Clinton Pushes Cyprus Solution in Turkey, Greece July 20, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Turkey, US, USA, Yunanistan.
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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives in Athens

Photo: AP/Saul Loeb, Pool
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton disembarks from her plane upon her arrival in Athens, as she continues her regional diplomatic tour, Saturday, July 16, 2011.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun a visit to Greece after telling officials in Turkey she wants to see an early solution to the Cyprus dispute. Clinton’s talks with Greek officials will also cover that country’s economic crisis.

U.N.-sponsored peace talks between the Greek and Turkish authorities on Cyprus have been underway since 2008 with little visible success.

But Clinton, as she ended a two-day visit to Istanbul said she supported Turkish calls for a resolution of the long-running conflict by 2012, when Cyprus is due to take over the European Union presidency for the first time.

“We don’t think the status quo on Cyprus benefits anyone. It’s gone on for far too long. We believe both sides would benefit from a settlement. And we strongly support the renewed, re-energized effort that the United Nations is leading, and that the Cypriots themselves are responsible for, because ultimately they’re the ones who are going to have to make the hard decisions about how to resolve all of the outstanding issues,” she said.

Turkey has threatened to freeze relations with the E.U. if Cypus assumed the presidency without a settlement of the dispute.

Clinton said the United States wants to see a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation on the island and “would like to see it as soon as possible.”

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied the northern third of the island in response to a coup in Nicosia aimed at union with Greece.

The last major push for a settlement foundered in 2004 when a U.N. backed referendum on a bi-zonal federation was voted down by Greek Cypriots.

A senior official traveling with Clinton said the Greek economic crisis would dominate her meetings in Athens and that Clinton would press both in public and private for support for Prime Minister George Papandreou’s austerity program, aimed at securing additional European and international rescue loans.

Before leaving Istanbul Saturday, Clinton told young Turks at a televised coffee shop dialogue that she was troubled by Turkey’s arrest of dozens of journalists and said it was “inconsistent” with the economic and political progress the country has been making.

Media watchdog groups say about 60 reporters are jailed, many working for leftist or Kurdish publications. The Secretary also noted the issue at a closing press event with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

“Turkey’s upcoming constitutional reform process present an opportunity to address concerns about recent restrictions that I heard about today from young Turks, about the freedom of expression and religion, to bolster protections for minority rights, and to advance the prospects for (Turkish) E.U. membership, which we who wholly and enthusiastically support,” she said.

Clinton paid a high-profile call on Istanbul-based Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has complained of church seizures and other harassment by Turkish authorities.

In her public remarks with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, Clinton urged the reopening of the Halki Seminary, an Eastern Orthodox theological school that was shut down by Turkish authorities in 1971.

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Cyprus occupation enters 37th year July 20, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Turkey, Yunanistan.
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On July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, a tiny island-nation on the eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, on the pretext of protecting the minority Turkish population on the island after a coup sponsored by the military junta in Greece forced the elected president of Cyprus to flee.

The coup, led by Greek army officers sent to train the Cypriot national guard, failed because the people of Cyprus did not want to united with Greece. They wanted to keep their status as in independent nation.

But Turkey used the temporary turmoil to invade the island. In a clear violation of U.S. law, Turkey used weapons supplied by the United States for “defensive” use to attack Cyprus.

The military invasion of Cyprus lasted a few weeks, but Turkey managed to drive out 200,000 Greek-Cypriots from their homes in the northern part of the island. One in three Cypriots became refugees in their own country.

More than 6,000 Greek-Cypriots (mostly civilians) were killed by the Turks and another 1,600 disappeared behind Turkish lines. Thirty-seven years later, Turkey still has not provided a full accounting of the whereabouts of 1,300 men, 116 women and 133 children trapped behind the advancing Turkish army.

Turkish troops set up what became known as the “Attila Line” and a Turkish occupation force of 40,000 troops have guarded the occupied territory since 1974, preventing Greek-Cypriots from returning to their ancestral homes. Turkey continues to occupy nearly 40 percent of Cyprus.

The Turkish regime set up a puppet state known as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” recognized by only one nation — Turkey.

Over the past 37 years, more than 120,000 Muslim settlers have been brought from mainland Turkey to occupied Cyprus, forever changing the ethnic and religious balance of Cyprus, a Christian nation that once hosted the Apostle Paul, who preached on Cyprus during his first missionary journey. Paul also converted the Roman governor of Cyprus during his visit, establishing Cyprus as the first nation in the world to be governed by a Christian.

The invasion of Cyprus and the annexation of the northern third of the island by Turkey have been condemned repeatedly by the United Nations, but we all know how effective U.N. resolutions are. They’ve been ignored continuously by aggressor states like Turkey.

Relations between the United States and Greece have been strained since the 1974 invasion. And our so-called ally, Turkey, has repeatedly turned its back to U.S. requests to use its air space and U.S.-built military bases for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Since the 1974 invasion, every American administration has pledged to find a resolution to the Cyprus problem, but every single president — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — has failed to persuade the Turks to leave Cyprus.

The United States has always maintained a double standard when it comes to Turkey. The U.S. criticizes North Korea and Iran for human rights violations and aggressive actions against their neighbors, but will not do the same with Turkey, which has openly violated U.S. law and thumbed its nose at the U.S. repeatedly.

Had Turkey consented to allow the U.S. to open a second front against Saddam’s forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, thousands of Saddam loyalists — the so-called insurgents killed hundreds of American soldiers — would have been captured or killed. Instead, they fled the advancing U.S. forces from the south and set up for the guerrilla warfare we saw for years in Iraq.

The only just solution to the Cyprus problem is the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island and the removal of the 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers.

The only way to force Turkey to comply with U.S. and international law is to stop sending American tax dollars to Turkey.

Write to your congressman today and ask why billions of U.S. tax dollars are being spent to support a rogue nation like Turkey.

Turkey seeks Cyprus referendum in 2012 July 10, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Turkey.
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Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek inspired coup

Turkey hopes terms for the reunification of Cyprus can be agreed upon by the end of the year so that a referendum can take place in early 2012 before the island takes over the European Union presidency later that year.

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in Cyprus on Saturday for talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, said it would would be a mistake and against European values for one side to represent the divided island, while the other side remained isolated.

“We hope to find a solution to the Cyprus problem by the end of the year, and hold a referendum in the early months of next year so that Cyprus can take on the presidency of the EU as a new state that represents the whole island,” Davutoglu said.

Cyprus was divided into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of a union with Greece.

Greek Cypriots represent the island internationally and in the European Union, while Turkey is the only country to recognise the Turkish Cypriot state.

The Cyprus dispute is a major obstacle for Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, aside from opposition from EU heavyweights France and Germany. Greek Cypriots say Turkey cannot join the bloc until the Cyprus conflict is resolved.

The EU also expects Turkey to implement the Ankara Protocol, whereby Turkish ports and airports will be opened to traffic from Cyprus. Turkey says the EU should also end its blockade of the Turkish Cypriot territory.

“A solution will bring real peace to the eastern Mediterranean and truly unite Europe,” Davutoglu said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after meeting Eroglu and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias in Geneva on Thursday that he expected the two sides to overcome their differences by October.

Almost three years of UN-mediated talks in the latest peace drive has produced limited progress.
Ban said he expected both sides to ramp up talks and to reach agreement by October on all core issues.

The two sides have made some progress on how they might govern themselves in an envisioned federation, but other core issues have yet to be discussed, including how to settle territorial adjustments and claims on private property lost after the 1974 war.

Any settlement would need approval from both sides in separate referendums. In a referendum in 2004 Turkish Cypriots voted for reunification, but Greek Cypriots rejected it.

Cyprus conflict defies ready solution May 30, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Kibris, Turkey.
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DEMETRIS Christofias, the president of Cyprus, is in every sense an original, if not an exotic, among international statesmen. He is the only national leader in the European Union who is a communist. He is a close friend and supporter of Israel, as indeed he is of Russia.

He is worried about the burden of asylum-seekers on his native land, and thinks it’s unsustainable. He is hugely critical of American foreign policy, but his chief antagonist is Turkey.

He is also a very good friend of former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer, the UN Secretary-General’s special adviser on Cyprus, and full of praise for Australia generally. With about 100,000 Cypriot-Australians, we are host to the largest population, after Britain, of the vast Cypriot diaspora.

What seems to be this bewildering list of contradictions in the Christofias political personality is really just a reflection of the contradictory pressures and exigencies of Cyprus’s own national situation.

A former British colony, Cyprus’s population is divided between ethnic Greeks and ethnic Turks. Since 1974, about 37 per cent of its territory has been controlled by a separatist state calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey, which has some 40,000 troops stationed there.

This may seem an obscure ethnic conflict, but it has king-size strategic consequences. Turkey wants to join the European Union. That requires unanimous agreement from all the EU members. It is inconceivable that Greece or Cyprus, both EU members, would ever agree to Turkey’s membership while it is in effect an occupying power in northern Cyprus.

I caught up with the charming Christofias for his only extended interview during a visit to Australia. After elected president in 2008, Christofias made reunification his highest priority; he re-engaged the UN and began meeting with the leaders of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. He remains ambitious that a reunification settlement can be reached before the end of 2012.

“The state of Cyprus will be a bizonal, bicameral, federal state with political equality of the two communities,” he says.

“That does not mean numerical equality, but effective participation of the two communities in the nation’s institutions. It will have a single, indivisible sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality.”

In 2008, the two sides met under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General and Downer. Observers say that the broad outlines of an agreement are there, but the main sticking points are where to put the border, what happens to the properties of Greek Cypriots in northern Cyprus which were seized after 1974, and to what Christofias describes as “Turkish settlers”, that is, mainland Turks who have settled in the north since 1974.

Christofias remains ambitious for a solution, but is soberly realistic: “It’s sad to say we’ve come to a conclusion that Turkey is not ready yet to change her attitude to Cyprus.”

He hopes the Turkish attitude might change after its elections next month, but like a lot of acute observers of international politics he is troubled by trends in Turkey: “There are several contradictions in Turkey in recent years. On the one hand they want to become Europeans. That means reforms, a less decisive role for the military, more democracy. I’m not sure (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erodgan has overcome the decisive role of the Turkish military in the Cyprus problem. The military follows an expansionist attitude towards Cyprus.

“At the same time Turkey is following a policy of intense economic development and her influence in the region is upgraded as a result. It has a theory that Turkey can become a model for other Muslim countries.

“But this creates a certain arrogance on the part of Turkish leaders. On the one hand they want to become part of the EU, but they also look to the Middle East and North Africa and want to become the leading country of that region. One contradicts the other. Sometimes they say we don’t need the EU — Turkey is a superpower.

“Another contradiction is that they stick to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. As you know, Hamas follows an extreme policy towards Israel.”

I ask Christofias whether he is concerned with a creeping Islamisation of Turkish politics and society. He says he is not sure. “People could suspect that behind their hands they have such a big idea. Everyone is anxious about which direction Turkey will go.”

In Cyprus, Downer has sometimes been a subject of controversy. Neither side finds his approach wholly congenial, which is almost certainly an indication that he is doing his job, as both sides must make painful compromises to reach a solution.

Christofias would not answer directly whether he thought Downer was doing a good job, instead saying: “I have to be very delicate. Downer is a facilitator, not a mediator. I have often very friendly discussions with him. There are forces which criticise Downer and I don’t agree with those forces. Downer’s job is to help us and our job is to help him help us.”

Clear on that, then?

On Australia, Christofias has no such ambivalence: “We are very grateful to Australia. In all our difficult times, Australia always followed the principle of supporting our independence. For many years it has contributed to peacekeeping in Cyprus,”

Christofias is certainly the most agreeable communist I have ever met. He explains his communism by saying that the ex-communist states of Eastern Europe didn’t do a very good job. He approaches issues of economic justice by concentrating on the welfare of the lower and middle classes.

Above all, he says, his is a pragmatic approach, concentrating on reunification of Cyprus and the immediate practical problems his society faces, leaving larger theoretical questions of dogma for another day. If only all the world’s communists were like him.

Turkish Cypriot FM slams Greek Cypriot stance on island May 28, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Kibris, Turkey.
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Greek Cypriots will only be the neighbors – and not the partners – of Turkish Cypriots as long as they continue to display the same stance on the Cyprus issue, the foreign minister in the island’s north said Wednesday.

“By preserving our good intentions and showing possible flexibility, we will continue to participate in negotiations for a comprehensive solution,” Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Huseyin Özgürgün said at a conference in Turkey’s southern province of Adana. “If Greek Cypriots keep displaying their current stance, they will not become our partners, but they will remain as our neighbors. Turkish Cyprus is the guarantee of our independence and rights on the island.”

Özgürgün said using the Cyprus issue as an obstacle on Turkey’s road to European Union membership was unfair.

Pointing to the compromises requested from the Turkish Cypriot side for the solution to the island’s conflict, Özgürgün said, “The continuation of the [guarantor status] system is of vital importance for Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish side will never approve a comprehensive agreement that does not envisage Turkey’s active guarantor [status].”

Özgürgün said Turkish Cypriots wanted a new partnership based on the political equality of two nations, the equal status of two founding states, a bizonal structure and a continuation of Turkey’s role as an active guarantor state.