- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2002

Cyprus deadlock

Talks to reunify Cyprus remain deadlocked after four rounds of negotiations, and Greek Cypriots doubt the United States will pressure Turkey into pushing Turkish Cypriots into a settlement.

A delegation of Greek-Cypriot political leaders yesterday agreed that the United States needs Turkey's help in the war against terrorism too much to risk upsetting it by issuing demands over Cyprus.

"The United States will not put pressure on Turkey to reach a settlement," said Markos Kyprianou, a member of the foreign-affairs committee of the Cypriot House of Representatives.

Committee Chairman Nicos Anastasiades said one purpose of their visit was to "motivate" the Bush administration.

"We need more active support for the negotiations," he said in a breakfast meeting with reporters. "We appreciate the support they have given us, but we think they could do more."

The Greek-Cypriot leaders, who represent the internationally recognized government of Cyprus, believe Turkey holds the key to a negotiated settlement because it is the only country with diplomatic relations with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It also maintains at least 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. Mr. Anastasiades said Turkey recently deployed another 5,500.

They said the United States could prod Turkey into realizing the advantages of reunification. Turkey wants to join the European Union, but the union would never admit Turkey as long as the island is divided, they said.

Meanwhile, the Greek-Cypriot side of Cyprus is proceeding smoothly toward EU membership and believes the European Union will admit it even if Turkish Cypriots refuse to join them.

"But the admission of a unified Cyprus would be in the best interests of all," Mr. Anastasiades said.

He complained of "Turkish threats to 'react without any limitations'" if only the Greek-Cypriot side is admitted.

"They would endanger the stability of the region and their relations with Greece and damage their EU aspirations," he said.

Turkish-Cypriot view

For Osman Ertug, the negotiations over the reunification of Cyprus comes down to one issue trust. And Turkish Cypriots don't trust their Greek counterparts.

Responding to the comments of one of the visiting Greek-Cypriot politicians, who said both sides made mistakes, Mr. Ertug sniffed a bit of moral equivalency.

"When it comes to who pays for the mistakes, that is where we differ. They started it, themselves," Mr. Ertug, the Turkish-Cypriot representative in Washington, told Embassy Row yesterday.

For Greek Cypriots, the problems of Cyprus begin with Turkey's 1974 invasion. They complain of the Turkish occupation of more than one-third of the island.

"We call it a liberation," Mr. Ertug said.

For Turkish Cypriots, the problems began with communal violence between the ethnic-Greek majority and the ethnic-Turkish minority in the 1960s that led to the installation of U.N. peacekeeping forces.

"We faced threats in my village. We were forced into Turkish enclaves," Mr. Ertug said. "They say they have changed. But it would take a leap of faith to believe that, and it would be leaping toward suicide."

Under the treaty that created Cyprus, Turkey has an obligation to protect the Turkish-Cypriot population. It invaded in response to a coup engineered by Greek army officers, seeking to annex the island with Greece.

"The reality of today is that we have two separate states, one recognized, one not," he said.

Mr. Ertug said the world is maintaining a fiction by only recognizing the Greek-Cypriot administration as the government of Cyprus.

"They claim to represent the whole of Cyprus, but they do not represent us. They're getting away with the hijacking of the term, 'the government of Cyprus,'" he said.

In the negotiations, Turkish Cypriots are demanding that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus be treated as an equal to the Greek-Cypriot side. They want a loose confederation, or "partnership," that would give a central government power only over foreign affairs, EU affairs, national defense and the economy.

The Greek Cypriots endorse U.N. resolutions that call for a federal government with the guarantee of Turkish-Cypriot rights under a bi-zonal, bi-communal arrangement.

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