- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2000

NICOSIA, Cyprus A Turkish beauty queen who could not cross the Cypriot demarcation line for the Miss Universe contest has become the latest victim of the Greco-Turkish tug of war.

Some diplomats saw the predicament as a bad omen for the forthcoming talks involving the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers in New York, a peace effort initiated by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.

Dark-eyed Cansu Dere, Miss Turkey in 1999, will not participate in the Miss Universe contest next month in the Greek part of Nicosia because, according to the Greek view, by arriving from the Turkish sector of Cyprus, she would enter the island illegally.

Turkey uses every opportunity to stress the permanent nature of the border between the two parts of the island, divided since the Turkish invasion in 1974.

Miss Dere could have traveled to Cyprus from Istanbul via Athens, but the Turkish government, on principle, objected to such a roundabout route. Neither side would give in.

"If they can't agree on that, they can't be expected to agree on real issues," a Western diplomat said.

The Miss Universe contest organizers issued a lame statement saying the Turkish participant was "not feeling well" two weeks before the competition.

Cyprus is expected to be the dominant issue when Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, meet Tuesday with Mrs. Albright in New York.

According to Greek political commentator Costas Iordanidis, Mr. Papandreou is expected to "make it clear that there can be no substantial improvement in Greco-Turkish relations unless Ankara displays a clear will to find a political solution to the Cyprus problem."

The much publicized rapprochement between Greece and Turkey, which followed last summer's devastating earthquakes, has brought no concrete new elements to break the deadlock. Greek officials say the signing of nine agreements on noncontroversial issues was "a step in the right direction but nothing more."

The New York meeting is particularly important because it precedes the third round of "proximity talks" between Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. The first two rounds which followed countless other meetings have made no progress.

According to Greek political analyst Stavros Lygeros writing in the Athens daily Kathimerini, "Turkey in essence expects Athens to adapt to its requirements… . As long as the Cyprus problem remains unsolved, Greek-Turkish relations will never take off."

Said Greek Cypriot government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou: "The key to the success of the third round of proximity talks and the general effort for a solution to the Cyprus problem is in Ankara."

Greek government sources said that in talks with Mrs. Albright, Mr. Papandreou also will bring up the Yugoslav problem in an effort to obtain a U.S. commitment to prevent Kosovo's secession.

The Greek government feels that NATO's intervention in Kosovo has "destabilized a considerable part of the Balkan region" and has strengthened the dominant role of President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade.

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