- - Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ahmet Erdengiz’s rebuttal (“Building a bicommunal solution on Cyprus,” Web, Aug. 22) to Victor Davis Hanson’s Aug. 14 op-ed is provocative in tone and littered with misinformation. Mr. Erdengiz incorrectly identifies the “venerable Cyprus problem.”

The problem began with Turkey’s 1974 two-phased invasion of the Republic of Cyprus. The first, on July 20, was in violation of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, the U.N. Charter, the NATO Treaty and customary international law. On Aug. 14, three weeks after the legitimate government of Cyprus was restored, Turkey launched its second phase, grabbing an additional 33 percent of the island in order to expand its occupation to nearly 40 percent of Cyprus‘ sovereign territory. It continues to illegally occupy this land today.

Mr. Erdengiz writes that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots “haven’t fired bullets at each other in decades.” This is true. In addition there have been 18-million-plus incident-free crossings of the “Green Line” since 2003. These two facts together pose the question to Mr. Erdengiz of why there are 40,000 illegally stationed Turkish troops on the island.

Mr. Erdengiz says that Turkish Cypriots are isolated. This could not be further from the truth. Turkish Cypriots are free to work in the government-controlled area and they are eligible to receive Republic of Cyprus passports, which afford them the freedom to travel globally. The isolation Mr. Erdengiz speaks of is self-imposed and administered by Turkey. If Mr. Erdengiz truly has concerns about the community, the concern should be directed at Turkey and its policies on Cyprus, which have endangered Turkish Cypriots. For example, Turkey has brought more than 180,000 Turkish colonists-settlers illegally to Cyprus, changing the demographics of the island and of the Turkish Cypriot community. This act is in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949.

Furthermore, the Annan Plan that was put to a vote in 2004 was fundamentally flawed. The plan lacked the viability to provide a just and lasting resolution to the division of Cyprus. It also incorporated unacceptable last-minute demands submitted by Turkey. An overwhelming percentage of all Cypriots (76 percent of Greek Cypriots and 35 percent of Turkish Cypriots) rejected it.

Finally, Mr. Erdengiz blames Greek Cypriots for lack of progress in the current settlement talks. Turkish intransigence stymies confidence-building measures. Turkey must play a constructive role, not manipulate the settlement process. Sadly, Turkey’s interests do not mesh with those of the people of Cyprus.

NICK LARIGAKIS

President

American Hellenic Institute

Washington