- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2004

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Just weeks after joining the European Union as one of its smallest new members, the Greek portion of Cyprus is finding itself increasingly isolated from the international community.

The Greek-Cypriot government’s diplomatic clashes with the European Union, the United Nations, the United States and Britain stem from its recent rejection of a U.N. plan aimed at uniting the East Mediterranean island.

In the latest salvo last week, Greek-Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos accused U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of bias in favor of the island’s Turkish minority and of violating international law.

He also criticized the United States and Britain for their efforts to increase contacts with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), an entity established by Turkey and until recently ostracized by the international community.

In a seven-page response to a highly critical report on the Greek-Cypriot attitude by Mr. Annan, Mr. Papadopoulos described proposals for better relations with the Turkish-Cypriot state as “outside the secretary-general’s good offices mission” and in “direct contravention of the Security Council resolution and international law.”

He termed Mr. Annan’s conclusions “insulting,” “offensive” and “flawed” and said the United Nations was setting itself up as “judge and jury.”

The tone of the unprecedented letter indicates the dilemma of the Greek-Cypriot president, who tearfully urged his compatriots to reject the U.N. proposal in the April 24 referendum. The Greek vote was 76 percent against the plan, while 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots approved it to international applause.

Since then, most international statements on the Cyprus problem have praised the positive attitude of the Turkish Cypriots while criticizing the attitude of their Greek counterparts.

“Regardless of what the Greek Cypriots say, their attitude is interpreted as rejecting cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots and any idea of sharing the island with them on an equal basis,” one diplomat said.

Several diplomats, as well as many Cypriot officials, say Mr. Papadopoulos has limited options and basically no concrete plan on how to proceed or how to interest the rest of the world in the Cyprus problem.

His main support has come from Greece, the traditional backer of the Greek Cypriots. Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Valinakis has said that foreign moves toward recognition of the TRNC “would be counterproductive as they would serve to draw the two communities apart instead of bringing them closer together.”

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