- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2006

NICOSIA, Cyprus — An international think tank has blamed Greek Cypriots for the impasse on the island in a stinging report, prompting dark muttering from politicians in Nicosia that they are the victims of an “Anglo-American conspiracy.”

The report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) coincides with U.S. efforts to establish trade links with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) after decades of isolation — a move that Greek Cypriots see as tantamount to diplomatic recognition of a territory now recognized only by Turkey.

The ICG report singled out Greek-Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos as a major culprit, saying he “does not seem to have any inclination, or coherent strategy on how to get unification back on track, and the prospects look bleak.”

The Greek-Cypriot government promptly rejected the report as lacking credibility, while politicians claimed that Cyprus was “a victim of the Anglo-American conspiracy.” Marios Matsakis, a Greek-Cypriot parliamentarian, said the ICG was an “Anglo-American propaganda tool” that serves the political interests of the United States and Britain.

Both countries have been increasingly critical of the economic blockade of Northern Cyprus, which was instigated by Greece and the Greek Cypriots and has been honored by the European Union.

The Bush administration now feels that trade would ease the barriers and promote unification efforts, paralyzed by the Greek-Cypriot rejection, in last year’s referendum, of the latest U.N. proposal for a bi-communal state.

The ICG describes itself as a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with staff on five continents. It is funded in part by the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Claiming that the Greek Cypriots “have lost their moral high ground in the Cyprus issue” by their stubborn opposition to cooperate with their Turkish compatriots, the report said, “The Greek Cypriots are now regarded as the intransigent side and can no longer rely on international sympathy for the events of 1974.”

A Greek coup in that year prompted an effort to link Cyprus with Greece. Turkey responded by sending troops to occupy the north of the island and establish a separate Turkish-Cypriot state.

In an analysis considered to be accurate by a number of diplomats and observers on the island, the 40-page report made the following key points:

• Over the years, the Greek Cypriots have been persuaded by their politicians, educational system and the media “of the legal and moral superiority of their cause.”

• “The political class has rarely argued the need of a genuine power-sharing solution.”

• The Turkish Cypriots have no means of making their case heard in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union.

• By blockading the north economically, the Greek Cypriots seek to systematically weaken it and eliminate any prospect for power-sharing as proposed by the international community.

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