- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Concerns on Cyprus

The ambassador of Cyprus is praising members of Congress for supporting Greek-Cypriot concerns over a United Nations plan for the reunification of the divided island.

Ambassador Euripides L. Evriviades said in a statement,, “We deeply appreciate these distinguished members of Congress for expressing their concern on such critical issues currently under discussion.”

Forty-five House members signed letters to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who proposed the reunification plan. Mr. Annan hopes Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots will endorse his plan in a referendum in time for both communities to join the European Union on May 1 as a united country for the first time since the 1970s.

However, the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government is unhappy with U.N. proposals over property, resettlement and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, supported only by Turkey.

About half of the population of both communities lost property when they were resettled after Turkish troops intervened to protect Turkish-Cypriot during a failed coup engineered by Greece in 1974. The U.N. plan places restrictions on the valuation of the property and limits the number of ethnic Greeks and Turks that could resettle into other parts of the island.

Rep. Michael Bilirakis, who organized the letters, said, “This is a historic opportunity for a reunified Cyprus to join the European Union on May 1, 2004, and every effort must be made to achieve this goal.” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat, was his chief co-sponsor.

The Florida Republican, who also co-chairs the House Greek caucus, added, “By addressing the concerns of the Greek-Cypriot community, I am confident that they will vote in favor of a fair and functional settlement.”

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., who also signed the letter, met last week with Mr. Annan to discuss Greek-Cypriot concerns and press for a withdrawal of Turkish troops.

“Secretary-General Annan acknowledged the property provisions are complicated but necessary to protect the two enclaves,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “I respect [his] concerns but requested he explore different formulas that would protect the [Turkish] enclave and also allow Greek-Cypriots the opportunity to purchase property in the area.”

Mr. Evriviades applauded Congress for its “active support” of a Cyprus settlement.

“At this critical juncture of the peace process, the positive input by members of the U.S. Congress is a welcomed development. I am confident that the communication of their concerns will be helpful to those involved in the U.N. negotiations,” the ambassador added.

“Representative Bilirakis has for many years shown great leadership in congress on the issue of reunification of Cyprus based on the rule of law.”

Ishmael in Caracas

Guyana’s former ambassador to the United States has opened a new Web site to provide news about his country to Venezuela, where he is now serving.

Odeen Ishmael, who was the most senior Latin American diplomat here, inaugurated his monthly online newsletter, El Diario de Guyana, to provide consular information as well as trade and investment news. The Spanish-language Web site is at www.guyana.org/spanish/venezuela_embassy.html. He was ambassador here from 1993 until he took up his new post in Caracas in November.

Korean newsmaker

South Korean Ambassador Han Sung-joo will discuss his government’s plans to send 3,000 troops to Iraq, when he holds a 3 p.m. news conference tomorrow at the National Press Club.

Billed as the “Afternoon Newsmaker,” Mr. Han will also give an update on the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected].

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