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AHI Hosts Seminar on "Cyprus—The Road Ahead and U.S. Interests"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
May 21, 2004—No.40 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts Seminar on "Cyprus—The Road Ahead and U.S. Interests"

WASHINGTON, DC—On May 19, 2004, the American Hellenic Institute presented a seminar entitled "Cyprus—The Road Ahead and U.S. Interests" at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C. The seminar was moderated by Lt. Colonel Harry Dinella, and the panel included Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Gregory R. Copley, Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq., and AHI President, Eugene T. Rossides. Following the presentation, the panelists answered questions from the audience.

Lt. Colonel Dinella is a former U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer for the Balkans who served as the US/NATO liaison to the Greek National Defense General Staff in Athens for the last four years of his military duty. Lt. Colonel Dinella opened the seminar with an brief overview of the emerging issues in the region, and set the stage for the panelists to comment on what interests the U.S. should seek to vindicate in Cyprus now that Cyprus is a full-fledged member of the European Union, despite the failure of the political process to achieve a just resolution of the unlawful occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey.

Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) is an eight-term Congressman representing New Jersey’s Sixth Congressional District and a member of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues. He is a highly accomplished legislator whose achievements include landmark measures to protect the environment and create new job opportunities. Representative Pallone holds a master’s degree in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and he is one of the leading Congressional voices on international affairs as they pertain to Cyprus and the Mediterranean region.

In discussing the developments in Cyprus, Congressman Pallone acknowledged that there is much work that remains to be done. He criticized the failed Annan Plan as an obstacle to a fair resolution of the Cyprus dispute, because the Annan Plan was punitive to Greek Cypriots and contained numerous provisions that flouted the rule of law.

Congressman Pallone ardently supported the democratic process in Cyprus and explained that "the people have a right to express themselves at the ballot box, and any effort to try to undo that or suggest that the voters are wrong, is, to me, nothing more than anti-democratic posturing or leaning towards dictatorship or totalitarian rule…and I think it is very important for all of us to speak out and say what happened is an exercise in democracy." Congressman Pallone told the audience that he personally, "would have voted no [to the Annan Plan] because there were many provisions that were objectionable."

The Congressman also advocated for the Greek American community to remain vigilant in the pursuit of a unified Cyprus. He stated, "I do feel that it is important to keep speaking out and pointing out why the referendum failed" and to call for "transparent negotiations that allow for the full participation of the Cypriot communities and that don’t result in any pressure not only from Turkey or Greece, but also from the United States or the European Union."

Congressman Pallone also announced that he will introduce "comprehensive legislation that would enable U.S. citizens who own real property in Turkish occupied Cyprus to sue in U.S. District Courts any private person who uses or possesses that property and that would allow U.S. citizens to sue a foreign state, obviously Turkey, which employs its military to exclude U.S. citizens from their properties."

Gregory R. Copley presented a comprehensive analysis of the viable options for the Eastern Mediterranean region following the April 24, 2004 Cyprus referenda, and he set forth a candid outlook for the proximate future of that region. Mr. Copley is President of the world-wide organization, International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) in Washington, D.C., and he is also the President of Global Information System, Inc. and the Editor-in-Chief of Defense & Foreign Affairs Publishing Group. He is a prolific writer who has authored several thousand articles, papers, lectures and reports over the past 40 years, many of them dealing with Cyprus and issues relevant to the Eastern Mediterranean region. Mr. Copley’s entire presentation is attached.

Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter is Vice President for defense and foreign policy studies at the CATO Institute in Washington, D.C. Dr. Carpenter is an author of numerous books and over 200 journal, newspaper, and magazine articles, and he is a frequent guest on radio and television programs in North America, Europe, East Asia and other regions.

Dr. Carpenter stated that one of the results of the Cyprus referenda on the flawed Annan Plan is that the Greek Cypriots are now perceived as being "obstructionist." In discussing the emerging policy issues in Cyprus, he observed that since Cyprus is now a member of the EU, it "has the right to veto Turkey’s accession to the EU." However, Dr. Carpenter cautioned that "Nicosia has to be very careful with its veto power." According to Dr. Carpenter, like the deterrence factor of an atomic bomb, this veto power is perhaps "much more effective to threaten to use than it is to actually use." Dr. Carpenter explained that any new proposal for reunification of Cyprus must, at a bare minimum, "set a date certain for withdrawal of all foreign troops from Cyprus," and "provide for the right of return for displaced persons."

Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq., offered commentary on the legal implications of the Cyprus issue and exposed the appallingly flawed property provisions of the Annan Plan. He is a founding partner of Sfikas & Karambelas, which has offices in Washington, D.C. and affiliated offices in Montreal, Canada and Athens, Greece. Mr. Karambelas is legal counsel to AHI, and he chairs the American Hellenic Lawyers’ Society of Greater Washington, D.C. In analyzing the legal aspects of the Annan Plan, Mr. Karambelas illustrated its clear deficiencies and highlighted that, among other serious shortcomings of the Annan Plan, "the property provisions of the Annan Plan are not mandatory; they are discretionary," and "the plans’ board decisions cannot be appealed."

Eugene T. Rossides, President of AHI, discussed the political background of the Cyprus issue, Cyprus’ support of America, the numerous failings of the Annan Plan, and the road ahead in Cyprus and its region. Mr. Rossides offered remarks on the relevant political background of the Cyprus issue, including the State Department’s past involvement in "encouraging the illegal coup, invasion and occupation of Cyprus in 1974," and its present actions in "covering up the events of 1974."

Mr. Rossides explained that the "U.S. bears the major responsibility for Turkey’s aggression and should now be willing to stand up and hold Turkey accountable for its aggression." However, instead of "pressing for a reunited Cyprus under majority rule, the rule of law and protection of minority rights," as proposed by Vice President George H.W. Bush in July 1988, the State Department "went to extreme lengths from February 13 to April 24, 2004 to pressure the Greek Cypriots to vote for the Annan Plan."

Regarding Cyprus and the U.S., Mr. Rossides said the following:

"Despite these actions and others of the State Department, I can confidently state that the Greek Cypriots not only do not "hate" Americans, but that they admire and respect Americans and American values and traditions. Many Greek Cypriots have relatives who are American citizens.

"The Greek Cypriots do, however, "hate" the American policy of a double standard on the rule of law for Turkey and the appeasement of Turkey these past 30 years.

"It is important to note and understand that Cyprus has always stood by America and the West. Even as a British colony in World War II, 35,000 Greek Cypriots volunteered and fought against the Axis powers while Turkey aided Hitler by supplying vital chromium ore for the Nazi war factories. The Greek Cypriots, on very short notice, built a landing strip for allied bombers following their air raid on the Polesti oil fields.

"Cyprus is a strategic key in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is a stationary aircraft carrier used by the British and U.S. air forces and is the headquarters for British forces in the Middle East. Cyprus played a key role for the U.S. in the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

"And in the Iraq war of 2003 to the present time, the British bases in Cyprus have played an important role in transporting British and American military power to Iraq with the cooperation of the Greek Cypriots. It should be noted that Turkey voted on March 1, 2003 to deny the U.S. the use of Turkish bases to open a second front against the Saddam Hussein dictatorship.

"Cyprus has been a staunch ally of the U.S. in the fight against international terrorism generally. Cyprus played an important role in undertakings pertaining to the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan during the fall of 2001.

"Frankly, Cyprus, which has proven its strategic value to the U.S. and the West, and which sits astride the oil route in the Eastern Mediterranean, is decidedly more important strategically to the U.S. than Turkey, a proven unreliable strategic ally.

"The U.S., in its own strategic interests, should be pressing for a reunited Cyprus under majority rule, the rule of law and protection of minority rights as stated by former Vice President George H.W. Bush in July 1988."

Mr. Rossides enumerated the serious flaws that remained in the final version of Annan Plan, namely, the fact that the proposal: (i) was undemocratic, (ii) was unworkable, (iii) violated the UN Charter and key UN resolutions, (iv) subverted property rights, (v) failed to fully demilitarize Cyprus, (vi) did not provide for the return to Turkey of the 100,000 illegal Turkish settlers in the occupied area, (vii) failed to propose a fair territorial adjustment, (viii) required the Greek Cypriot victims to pay for their compensation and damages instead of Turkey, the aggressor, and (ix) not financially viable.

He specifically cited the Annan Plan cover-up of Turkey’s aggression as a particularly egregious aspect of the Annan Plan. Mr. Rossides explained that, quite shockingly, "there was no acknowledgment of nor any mention made of Turkey’s aggression in the Annan Plan," and likewise, "there was no provision in the Annan Plan requiring Turkey to make payments to the Greek Cypriots for the destruction and damage caused to them by the Turkish military."

Mr. Rossides also commented on the road ahead for Cyprus. He explained that the "Cyprus issue will not go away and there will be negotiations to reunite the people of Cyprus," and he stated that "the role of Greek Americans in the months ahead in the interests of the U.S. is to stress the importance to the U.S. of a negotiated solution based on American values and principles."

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The full transcript of Mr. Gregory R. Copley’s remarks will be emailed on Monday. 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.