- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2005

Turkish-Cypriot view

The Turkish-Cypriot envoy in Washington never misses a chance to respond to the ambassador of Cyprus, even when the ambassador is trying to say something nice about Turks.

Osman Ertug of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — which has diplomatic relations only with Turkey — criticized Ambassador Euripides Evriviades — whose Greek-Cypriot government is internationally recognized as the representative of the divided island — for comments he made to Embassy Row last month.

Mr. Evriviades had said his government supports Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union, which admitted Cyprus last year, even though Turkey still has about 30,000 troops in northern Cyprus.

Mr. Ertug said in an e-mail, “The Greek-Cypriot envoy’s accusations about Turkey ‘illegally occupying’ part of Cyprus show that not much has changed in the mentality of the Greek-Cypriot side in the aftermath of the EU summit decision of Dec. 17 to start [membership] negotiations with Turkey.”

Mr. Ertug’s government considers the Turkish forces as protectors against the Greek-Cypriot majority on the island and refers to a 1960 treaty that established the Turks as guarantors of Turkish-Cypriot security.

He also complained that Greek-Cypriots pay only “lip service” to the goal of reunifying the island, pointing out that Turkish-Cypriots last year endorsed a United Nations plan for a union of the two ethnic groups while Greek-Cypriots rejected it.

Among other issues, Greek-Cypriots complained that the plan failed to set a timetable for the withdrawal of Turkish troops and failed to protect Greek-Cypriot property rights.

Mr. Ertug said, “The way forward in Cyprus is for the Greek-Cypriot side to state with clarity and finality … its demands on issues it deems important to it and to stop obstructing U.S., EU and international efforts to remove the unjust and immoral isolation of the Turkish-Cypriots.”

In his earlier comments, Mr. Evriviades said his government could have vetoed the European Union’s decision to open talks with Turkey but decided to extend “the hand of friendship to Turkey in the hope that we may move forward.”

The ambassador added, “We hope that one of the eventual outcomes of this process will be a united Cyprus, free of foreign troops, for the benefit first and foremost of all Cypriots.”

Europe’s problem

NATO is hamstrung by Europe’s inability to move its troops quickly to trouble spots worldwide, the U.S. ambassador to the Western military alliance said yesterday.

Ambassador Nicholas Burns complained that the European members of NATO can deploy fewer than 5 percent of their 2.5 million troops, while the United States can rapidly dispatch 75 percent of its 2.4 million troops.

“This is our biggest problem for NATO. We have a problem in generating sufficient forces,” he told the Center for European Policy Studies in Belgium.

“This is truly a problem of a huge dimension that Europe must grapple with.”

He also appealed to NATO countries to help train Iraqi forces to combat terrorism and the insurgency waged by supporters of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

“There’s nothing more important than this mission if we want to have a positive effect on the situation in Iraq,” Mr. Burns said.

Mr. Burns, a former ambassador to Greece and former State Department spokesman, is expected to be appointed undersecretary of state for political affairs, the third-highest post in the State Department.

Luxembourg goals

Luxembourg may be a tiny dukedom squeezed between France and Germany, but for the next six months it will be the voice of Europe.

Luxembourgian Ambassador Arlette Conzemius will hold a 3 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club today to discuss her government’s goals as the leader of the European Union until June.

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

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