- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

Cypriot strategy

The ambassador from Cyprus said his government is pursuing a long-term strategy by supporting Turkey’s membership in the European Union after three decades of denouncing Turkish troops on the divided island.

Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004 and, in December, joined the other 24 EU members in approving Turkey’s bid to begin the membership process.

However, to achieve EU membership, Turkey will have to recognize the Greek-Cypriot administration, which is the internationally accepted government of Cyprus, said Ambassador Euripides L. Evriviades. He said Turkey will also have to help reunify Turkish-Cypriots in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey, and Greek-Cypriots.

“It is incompatible with the values of the European Union for an acceding country to maintain an occupying force on the territory of another member state,” he wrote in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs magazine.

“Turkey will have to remove its troops and help solve the Cyprus issue on the basis of the rule of law in order to achieve EU membership.”

Turkish-Cypriot officials see the Turkish troops as protectors against a resurgence of ethnic violence that led to the split of the island in the 1970s.

Mr. Evriviades said the process of meeting EU qualifications will also help Turkish citizens achieve European standards of human rights and help stabilize the region.

“The prospect of EU membership is important to Turkey’s development and could foster a more secure and economically robust Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East,” he wrote.

“The standards that Turkey must meet to gain membership will require the modernization of Turkey. Human rights reforms and vast improvements in Turkey’s legal, economic, social, cultural and political processes will be required.

“Turkey will have to guarantee free speech, respect minority groups, address the plights of its many poor and put an end to torture and child labor.”

Mr. Evriviades predicted Turkish membership will have an additional benefit of showing that Europe can embrace a Muslim nation.

“It would also provide a vivid demonstration throughout the Islamic world that a majority-Muslim country can be democratic and can thrive economically in the Western world while still maintaining its religious identity,” he said.

Darfur situation cited

The United Nations yesterday sent a special envoy to Washington to warn of the “bleak” situation in Sudan’s western Darfur region, where government-backed militias have been accused of genocide against black African farmers.

Jan Pronk, the U.N. special representative for Sudan, met with senior administration officials, congressional staffers and representatives of nongovernmental organizations.

“The situation in Darfur is bleak,” said Emily Manning, an official in the United Nations’ Washington office. “Political talks are stalled. The security situation is deteriorating.”

Mr. Pronk urged the Security Council last week to deploy 20,000 peacekeepers to the African nation.

Pressure on Burma

U.S. diplomat Christopher Hill yesterday praised Malaysia’s leadership in efforts to force the military junta in Burma to endorse democratic reforms and release political prisoners.

Mr. Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

He acknowledged Malaysia’s leadership in efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to seek the release of democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has been under house arrest on and off since 1998.

Mr. Hill said he “very much appreciated ASEAN’s decision to step out and be vocal about issues surrounding problems in [Burma] and also Malaysia’s role in leading that charge,” a U.S. Embassy official told Reuters news agency.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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