- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2010

NEW BLOOD

The new ambassador from Cyprus was surprised by the size of the Republican victory in Tuesday’s House elections, even though he had seen something close to it 16 years ago.

Ambassador Pavlos Anastasiades was a lower-ranking diplomat at the Cypriot Embassy in Washington when Republicans led by Newt Gingrich swept the Democrats out of the House in 1994, gaining 55 seats. The GOP netted 60 new seats this week.

“There is a lot of new blood in Congress. It is a challenge and very interesting,” Mr. Anastasiades said in an interview Wednesday.

The ambassador arrived in Washington in September, just after Americans were returning from Labor Day getaways and focusing on the congressional races.

**FILE** In this photo from April 9, 2003, Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin smile as they celebrate Mr. Chernomyrdin's 65th birthday in Moscow. Mr. Chernomyrdin died Wednesday. He was 72. (Associated Press)
**FILE** In this photo from April 9, 2003, Russian President Vladimir Putin ... more >

Now, like other ambassadors, Mr. Anastasiades will be introducing himself to the new power brokers on Capitol Hill. But unlike many foreign diplomats in Washington, Mr. Anastasiades represents a country that has attracted wide bipartisan attention in Congress since the ethnic violence between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots in the 1960s and the military invasion by Turkey in 1974.

“The Cyprus issue has always been among the priorities of American foreign policy,” he said.

Most recently, the House in September denounced the “occupying Turkish forces” in Northern Cyprus for failing to stop the destruction of Christian religious property and warned that the “very future and existence of historic Greek-Cypriot, Maronite and Armenian communities are now in grave danger.”

For decades, U.S. presidents from both parties and bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress have supported the reunification of Cyprus and urged Turkey, a key NATO ally, to withdraw its estimated 40,000 troops from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which only Turkey recognizes.

Mr. Anastasiades called the goal of reunifying Cyprus one of the “fundamental values” of U.S. foreign policy.

“It will ensure peace and stability in the area,” he said.

Mr. Anastasiades was in his early 20s when Turkish forces invaded the northern part of Cyprus to protect Turkish-Cypriots after a Greek-Cypriot coup overthrew the government established in 1960 after independence from Britain.

“I became a refugee in my own country,” he said, noting his desire to return to live in his hometown of Famagusta, once a thriving tourist destination that attracted European royalty and Hollywood stars.

Mr. Anastasiades expressed optimism over the vast contacts between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots since 2003, when the Turkish-Cypriot government opened the border between the two communities.

“Millions have crossed. We have lost count,” he said.

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