- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2006

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left behind few cheers and a plethora of often-bitter criticism after her rapid visits to Greece and Turkey this week.

The most hostile outbursts came from the Greek-language press in Cyprus, an island she skipped on her tour and which remains a major obstacle to cooperation between Greece and Turkey.

“Cold shower,” “Biased intervention,” “No, Miss Rice,” were some of the headlines on the Greek side of barricades in Nicosia, the capital of divided Cyprus.

The Turkish and Greek mainland press was unanimous in agreeing that the aim of the visit was not to solve the east Mediterranean feud but to secure backing for U.S. opposition to Iran’s plan to develop a uranium enrichment program.

While Greek commentators deplored the absence of strong support for the Greek Cypriots from Miss Rice, Turkish editorialists were disappointed by the absence of commitment to joint U.S.-Turkish action against the Kurdish rebels using Iraq as their base.

As far as Iran’s development of a nuclear program was concerned, the mass-circulation Istanbul Milliyet daily cautioned that the dispute with Iran “should not be settled by force.” Most Greek dailies favored that attitude.

Under the headline “Ice Skating with Rice,” Hurriyet, another Istanbul daily, claimed that talks between Miss Rice and Turkish officials were conducted “in an icy atmosphere.”

Editorial comments in both Greece and Turkey did not reflect the polite tone of official statements.

In Greece and Cyprus the main objections were to Miss Rice’s call for more effort on behalf of the Turkish-Cypriot minority and her appeal to the Greek-Cypriot government to help Turkey’s European Union accession process.

Christos Papoutsis, an official of the opposition PASOK party in Greece, said Miss Rice’s statements were “unacceptable,” and her visit “created more uncertainty and more anxiety for the Greek people.”

In Cyprus, socialist leader Yiannakis Omirou said “Miss Rice seems to overlook the unacceptable and provocative way that 37 percent of this island is occupied by Turkey.”

A banner headline in the English-language Cyprus Mail announced “Rice Comments Spark a Storm,” but the newspaper’s editorial said: “Rice’s comments may have been difficult to stomach, but our government would be playing an extremely dangerous game if it did not take them seriously.”

The New Anatolian daily in Turkey drew the conclusion that the main outcome of the Rice visit was that “the United States can’t do without Turkey and Turkey can’t without the U.S.”

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