- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

Last word on Cyprus for now

For the sake of contributing to the Cyprus debate that has been raging in the pages of The Washington Times ("Cyprus and the EU," Letters, Nov. 1; "An island divided," Letters, Monday; "Cyprus' one-state recognition," Letters, Wednesday), I would like to present the following points for your readers' attention:
Since the Greek Cypriot side considers the international community, mainly the United Nations, as the source of its legitimacy, it must also bear in mind that the United Nations has never used terminology such as "invasion" or "occupation" in describing the legitimate and justified Turkish intervention of 1974, undertaken in accordance with the Treaty of Guarantee of 1960. Dredging up 20-year-old resolutions by the United Nations criticizing the proclamation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), especially when the more recent resolutions of the Security Council endorse the concept of "the political equality" of the parties involved, only discredits the Greek Cypriot side's own argument and does not do a service to the search for a just and lasting settlement on the island.
Second, the United Nations may have taken certain positions on issues such as the proclamation of the TRNC based particularly on the wishes of its more powerful members and the political perceptions prevailing at the time. But it has since come a long way in acknowledging the political equality of the two sides and the fact that they do not represent each other. Furthermore, the overriding principle here should be the right of self-determination of peoples enunciated in the charter of the United Nations. By all accounts, the Turkish Cypriots have proven their worth as a people with a distinct national identity and not as "minority" in a nonexistent "Cypriot nation."
Finally, if diplomatic recognition were the sole determinant of statehood, a lot of states would not have existed in the past or at present, such as the People's Republic of China, which was denied U.N. membership until 1975; or Taiwan, which has limited recognition and enjoys no U.N. membership today. Internationally accepted requirements for statehood are territory, people and an effective government, all of which exist in the TRNC and in a fully democratic environment.
Rather than continuing on its present line of garnering third-party support while keeping Turkish Cypriots under the abject conditions of an all-out economic blockade, the Greek Cypriots would do better, instead, by concentrating on winning the confidence of the Turkish Cypriots, the co-owners of Cyprus, for a better future for all.

Executive director
Assembly of Turkish American Associations

Why Europeans like multilateralism

So columnist Daniel J. Mitchell believes that Europeans have adopted a cultlike worship for multilateralism ("European cult of multilateralism," Commentary, Thursday). While it is true that Europeans are far more used to multilateralism due to the interdependent nature of the European Union, Mr. Mitchell is in no position to complain about EU assaults on U.S. sovereignty. The situation is really quite simple. The Bush administration has adopted a policy of unilateralism that poses potentially huge impacts on other peoples and countries but is centered on American interests. It seems that the administration sometimes does not even care about other people or countries in pushing through American interests, all under the guise of benign hegemony.
The European Union does not want to embrace this egotistical approach. The United States exists in a world of states and has to interact with these states multilaterally, whether it wants to or not.

Guntramsdorf, Austria

Muslim women in the (American) workplace

The article "Muslim women see misconception" (Nation, Friday) gives examples of American women who have converted to Islam. Yet, the examples of these women do more to show the blessings of this country than the supposed virtues of Islam.
There is no religious freedom in many Islamic countries. While working in Saudi Arabia, my husband engaged in a conversation with a Muslim and said, "In my country, if a Christian wishes to convert to Islam, they may do so. However, in your country, if a Muslim wishes to convert to Christianity, he cannot." To which the man answered, "Of course not, George. If a Muslim renounces Islam, we have to kill him. It's in the Koran." Those are the exact words spoken to my husband.
We are seeing more and more women working in establishments wearing their traditional religious garb. But it must be remembered that in countries such as Saudi Arabia, these same women would be forbidden to work, period, let alone with men.

Sterling, Va.

Townsend shot herself with gun control

I have noticed that the post-election "Monday-morning quarterbacking" has gathered many excuses as to why Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost the gubernatorial race in Maryland on Tuesday. What has me confused is why none of the pundits gave the gun control issue its due in this race.
The Townsend campaign mistakenly assumed that its core base is entirely anti-gun, and that is not the case. Many Democrats are liberal on many issues, but it was wrong for Mrs. Townsend to assume that all Democrats, women and blacks were anxious to help her fulfill her anti-gun agenda.
In the new era of the Internet, it is much easier for people to ascertain all the facts in the gun debate, and many of them disagreed with her plan to disarm all of the residents of Maryland. Her extremist views regarding gun control even turned off the law-enforcement community.
As a black man living in Maryland, I felt that the Townsend campaign treated me like an ignorant person who would readily believe all of the claims of "common-sense" gun legislation. Yet, due to my military experience, I have knowledge of the facts regarding guns - their dangers, their limitations and their benefits.
When anti-gun propaganda would fill the TV and radio airwaves, I would do my best to educate my friends and family so that they would not blindly follow the anti-gun hysteria.
The movement toward education on this issue is gaining momentum, and the Democratic Party in Maryland had better realize that when James Carville, the Democratic political strategist, recommended not bringing up gun control, he was right.
The people are getting wise and will not tolerate being unprotected against the armed "bad guys."

Hagerstown, Md.

Tortured account of UN protocol

Helle Dale's account of the United Nations' new torture protocol is misleading ("A torturous convention," Op-Ed, Wednesday). She claims that the prisons inspection system it will establish "cannot possibly be effective." Yet, a similar mechanism for Europe and the former Soviet bloc has brought practical improvements to jails in Moldova, Bulgaria and Ukraine.
The new U.N. treaty is strongly supported by newly emerged democracies, many of them close friends and partners of the United States, which want international help in overhauling their abusive prison systems. Mrs. Dale says the United States should not be expected to pay for a system it cannot support, but this important initiative to prevent torture could be up and running for under $2 million per year, only one-fifth of the money the United States and others pay to rehabilitate torture victims.
The "user pays" approach being touted by the United States, under which inspections would be paid for by those ratifying the treaty, will only discourage poorer countries from joining this initiative.
Mrs. Dale also cites constitutional bars to the United States joining the protocol, but there may be ways to deal with these hypothetical legal issues. At the end of the day, the United States can choose not to sign on to the new inspection system, but it should not stand in the way of others who want to take this important step for the prevention of torture.

Advocacy director
Human Rights Watch
New York

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