- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2003

Optimist on Cyprus

The ambassador of Cyprus is leaving Washington the same way she arrived: with an undiminished optimism that one day her island will be reunited and Greeks and Turks will live as Cypriots, not hyphenated ethnic rivals.

Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, in a farewell message in the latest Cypriot Embassy newsletter, admitted that the failure of diplomatic efforts to end the division of Cyprus was the only frustrating factor during her five years as ambassador here.

Nevertheless, she wrote, the prospects for reunification are stronger now because of Cyprus’ pending membership in the European Union. The Greek-Cypriot part of the island, which is the internationally recognized government of Cyprus, is expected to join the bloc next year.

The government believes EU membership will bring additional pressure on Turkey to push the Turkish-Cypriot administration into a settlement to advance its own EU aspirations. Otherwise, Turkey, with about 30,000 troops protecting Turkish-Cypriots, would find itself occupying an EU member state as it tries to lobby the bloc for its own membership.

Earlier this year, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus unexpectedly opened the border, and Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots have been crossing daily to shop and socialize.

“The million-plus crossing over the dividing line since last April and the fraternal feelings among Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots have already demolished the mental wall of separation that Turkey tried to fabricate to keep the Cypriots divided,” Mrs. Kozakou-Marcoullis wrote.

“I depart with optimism that the prospect of reunification is today more real. I have enormous trust in the judgment of our people, and I know that this present state of affairs of occupation and division, which is unacceptable and makes no sense, will soon come to an end, allowing the Cypriot people to enjoy the fruits of peace, progress, stability and security within the European family of nations.”

Mrs. Kozakou-Marcoullis wrote that she looked back on her years as ambassador here as “challenging and remarkable,” and that she was proud to have helped keep U.S.-Cypriot relations strong.

“I feel extremely gratified that my departure comes at a time of excellent U.S.-Cyprus relations and effective cooperation at all levels, primarily in the struggle to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism,” she wrote.

Mrs. Kozakou-Marcoullis is returning to the Cypriot Foreign Ministry to lead the department in charge of reunification.

More help for Sri Lanka

A new effort to remove land mines in Sri Lanka was to begin yesterday with the help of a U.S.-funded $2.2 million program, the U.S. Embassy announced in the capital, Colombo.

“The American Embassy is proud to be able to assist the people and government of Sri Lanka in this important step of rehabilitation and reconstruction,” James F. Entwistle, the acting ambassador, said in a statement last week.

“Resulting demining will be undertaken for the benefit of all Sri Lankans — Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim — and will help Sri Lankan self-sufficiency in demining.”

The operation is part of a truce signed last year between the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government of the predominately Sinhalese island nation. The civil war has killed more than 60,000 people since 1972.

An earlier program removed 1,000 land mines and 150 unexploded bombs and artillery shells.

Supporting Nepal

The U.S. Embassy in Nepal is defending the government of the Himalayan kingdom in negotiations with Maoist rebels.

“The political proposal advanced by the government of Nepal during [the latest round of talks] directly addresses a number of the Maoists’ proclaimed socio-economic concerns and thus offer a realistic vehicle for productive discussions,” the embassy said in a statement last week.

The rebels, who want to diminish the power of the monarchy, last week called the government concessions “disappointing.” Both sides say they plan more talks.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• A delegation of Tunisian journalists: Salah Attia, editor of As Sabah; Noura Borsali, international reporter for Realities; and Lofti Touati, editor in chief of Le Quotidien.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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