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AHI Letter Responds to Baltimore Sun Editorial
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
May 11, 2004—No.37 (202) 785-8430

AHI Letter Responds to Baltimore Sun Editorial

WASHINGTON, DC—On May 4, 2004, AHI Executive Director, Nick Larigakis, submitted a letter to the editor responding to a Baltimore Suneditorial titled, "Missed Opportunity" (May 3, 2004), which criticizes Greek Cypriots for not voting for the Annan Plan referendum in Cyprus. The text of the letter appears below, followed by the Baltimore Sun editorial to which the letter responds:

May 4, 2004

The Letters Editor
The Baltimore Sun
501 N. Calvert Street
P.O. Box 1377
Baltimore, MD 21278
Email: [email protected]

Dear Editor:

Your editorial regarding Cyprus "Missed Opportunity" demonstrates your lack of knowledge and understanding of the UN Annan Plan and the ramifications of the April 24 referenda. Based on the substantive issues in the Plan, the Greek Cypriots had no real choice but to vote a "resounding no."

For the record, Greece did not join the EU on Saturday (May1), as stated in the editorial; they joined in 1981.

The Greek Cypriots exercised their democratic right to vote on a matter that affects them directly. The US, the EU, and the rest of the world need to respect their decision. We can’t be selective in endorsing the rule of law; it undermines democracy at its core.

They voted "no" because rather than facilitating peace and stability, the plan would have done just the opposite. "Both sides of the island" would not have "benefited" from this plan as you assert. The plan was unfair and exceedingly biased against the Greek Cypriots.

The plan would have rewarded the aggressor, Turkey, who illegally invaded Cyprus in 1974 and punished the victims, the Greek Cypriots, of which 180,000 became refugees in their country, and of which a substantial number would have not been able to go back under the plan. And incredibly the Greek Cypriot tax payer would have to pay for most of the costs of resettlement and compensation for those not allowed to go back.

Also, it provided for the continuing military presence by the Turkish military with broad interpretations as to their intervention rights. This was not acceptable.

The plan was simply not functional, viable and economically feasible.

In the end, Cyprus went through an arduous 7-year negotiation process to get into the EU. She became a full member on May 1 because she met all the criteria.

The Turkish Cypriots remain isolated because of the ongoing intransigence of their leadership and supporter, Turkey, who continues to illegally occupy Cyprus, now a country of the EU, which Turkey herself aspires to join.

Sincerely,
/s/Nick Larigakis
Executive Director
American Hellenic Institute

The Baltimore Sun

Missed Opportunity

Monday, May 3, 2004

GREEK CYPRIOTS think they can get something for nothing. With their membership in the European Union assured, residents of the Greek side of divided Cyprus clearly had no incentive to support a U.N.-sponsored reunification plan to end a 30-year dispute with the Turkish Cypriots who share the island.

When Greece joined the EU on Saturday, the Greek side of the island became a member as well. And the Greek Cypriot government now represents all of the island in that organization.

But in an April 24 referendum on the peace plan, 76 percent of Greek Cypriots voted against it, unwisely casting their lot with the past and the status quo under the misguided notion that a better deal would be in the offing. But the U.N. peace envoy packed his bags; a better deal won't be in hand anytime soon.

So now the thorny question remains as to how the Greek-dominated Republic of Cyprus can represent that which it doesn't control, namely the Turkish side of the island and its 200,000 citizens. It's a fiction and a farce.

U.N. peacekeepers patrol a border that splits Nicosia and divides the island; each side has its own president and history of enmity and pain. The U.N. plan would have reunited the island in a federation, returned some land on the Turkish side to Greek Cypriot owners and reduced the presence of Turkish troops on the island. But the Greek Cypriot president urged his citizens to vote against the plan, and reports from the island say supporters were kept from presenting their case on television.

If EU membership was the reason to end this ethnic divide, a united Cyprus should have been the entry requirement for all parties. Now, EU officials talk about rewarding Turkish Cypriots, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of the peace plan in the hope of ending their international isolation.

Lifting a 30-year-old economic embargo imposed when Turkish troops massed on the northern side of the island in response to a Greek-led coup would improve life there. It may also bring the needed investment to redevelop a tourist industry. The Turkish side boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, but a tourism industry can't grow without a return of international flights to the Turkish side.

Giving the Turkish Cypriot government the $307.8 million intended for resettling the island surely would help finance economic development there, but it is only an interim measure. And the fact remains that both sides of this divided island would have benefited from a reunification plan embraced by only one of them.

Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun

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For additional information, please contact Vivian Basdekis at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.