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AHI Reveals State Department's Encouragement of Direct Trade with Northern Occupied Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
February 7, 2006—No. 7 (202) 785-8430

AHI Reveals State Department's Encouragement of Direct Trade with Northern Occupied Cyprus

Washington, DC—Recent State Department disclosures to AHI reveal some of the actual steps taken by the U.S. government since 2004 to encourage direct trade between the U.S. and northern occupied Cyprus which directly contravene applicable UN resolutions and previous U.S. policy statements. The U.S. policy statements were in response to Turkey's 1974 invasion and subsequent illegal occupation of 33.7% of northern Cyprus and specifically did not recognize and denounced the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and opposed trade with northern occupied Cyprus.

Such trade is in line with more recent State Department pronouncements following Greek Cypriot rejection of the undemocratic, unworkable and financially unviable UN "Annan Plan" drafted by the British and supported by the U.S. for the reunification of Cyprus. Since then, the U.S. and Britain have acted to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots, caused by Turkey, and have openly and falsely accused Greek Cypriots of preventing reunification of the island.

The disclosures were made in the State Department's January 23 response to AHI's July 21, 2005, request under the Freedom of Information Act calling for records evidencing the State Department's authorization of travel by U.S. government officials directly to northern Cyprus. The State Department retrieved 11 documents in response to AHI's request. Five were released to AHI in full, two were released with excisions, three were not released, and the decision on one document "requires further interagency coordination."

The released documents reveal that as of September 2004, following inter-agency approval, the State Department authorized sending an "aphis team" from the U.S.embassy in Ankara to north Cyprus "to begin the process of bringing their phyto-sanitary procedures in line with U.S. import requirements and synchronizing, to the extent possible, U.S. policy on honoring 'TRNC' export documentation with EU policy." The documents say that the State Department "is exploring with FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service) the requirements for aligning Turkish Cypriot phyto-sanitary and other procedures with U.S. import regulations to help create the conditions for direct trade between north Cyprus and the United States." The documents say that "a visit from FAS/Ankara to northern Cyprus would . . . send an important signal that the United States is doing all it can to help fulfill the promise of the international community to take steps to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots."

The documents also reveal that, while recognizing "the impediments to trade between northern Cyprus and the United States," the State Department circumvented the impediments by requesting its Ankara and Nicosia embassies "to arrange for a non-official Turkish Cypriot delegation" to attend an October 2004 international food exposition in Paris and to arrange "a seminar in northern Cyprus on how to conduct business/trade with the U.S."

The documents also reveal that the U.S. embassy in Cyprus conducted in north Cyprus a "successful November 2004 seminar on 'Doing Business with the United States,' which exposed the Turkish Cypriot business community to opportunities to find suppliers for U.S. products." The Cyprus embassy planned a follow-up seminar, to be conducted in conjunction with the US embassy in Ankara in February or March 2005, to which it planned to invite "representative [sic] of U.S. companies in Turkey to Cyprus and to open U.S. product information centers in the Chambers of Commerce and Industry on both sides of the island." The document observes that the Turkish Cypriot business community is unaware of opportunities to import competitive U.S. products and anticipates that, with per capita GDP growing and Turkish Cypriots buying more consumer and industrial products, the embassy's follow-on activities "would increase U.S. exports to north Cyprus by 10 percent." Funds were requested to purchase materials for four "U.S. product information centers -- two each to be located on both sides of the island." Room for the business seminar and the product information centers in north Cyprus would be provided by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.

On the subject of direct travel by U.S. government employees to northern occupied Cyprus, the State Department documents reveal that the US government is keenly aware that the Republic of Cyprus does not authorize entry or exit via any air or sea port in the occupied north. Such awareness necessitated new State Department guidelines, promulgated in June 2004, to facilitate entry and exit by US government employees, who are cautioned not to use their official or diplomatic passports and not to attempt to cross the Green Line. The documents reveal that the Republic of Cyprus advised our embassy in June 2004 that the U.S. "shouldn't encourage" entry through the north and requested that the US "not 'advertise or encourage' illegal entries through the ports in the north."

The documents also shed light on how the U.S. embassy in Cyprus is reporting to the State Department about events in Cyprus. For example, in March 2005 the embassy reported on the respective Greek and Turkish Cypriot reactions to the State Department's human rights report on Cyprus for 2004. For the first time, the State Department report presented a separate section of statistics on the north. The Greek Cypriot reaction included a March 3, 2005, resolution by the Cyprus House of Representatives and commentary by political leaders and editors uniformly criticizing the human rights report for, among other things, giving separate statistics for the north, failing to mention the Turkish invasion and continuing occupation, and portraying the Cyprus government as raising obstacles to the operation of airports and ports in the occupied north.

The U.S. Embassy in Cyprus dismissed the Greek Cypriot reaction as “strident” and placed it in “sharp contrast” with the Turkish Cypriot reaction, which was seen as “low-key and focused on the equal treatment of the [Republic of Cyprus] and north Cyprus.” “In our view, the State Department has deliberately chosen to violate the rule of law and international law. In April 2004, Greek Cypriot voters overwhelmingly expressed their judgment that the Annan Plan is unacceptable as a solution for reunification. The State Department’s actions are harmful to reunification because they reverse the roles of the victim, the Greek Cypriots, and the aggressor, Turkey. The subversion by the U.S. of UN resolutions to which all nations except Turkey previously subscribed is not helpful to U.S. interests,” said AHI Chairman, James Marketos.

He added: “Contrary to a recent New York Times editorial, the Greek Cypriots did not vote ‘against reunification.’ A 76% Greek Cypriot majority rejected the Annan Plan because (1) it was undemocratic in that it gave the 18% Turkish minority veto over all key legislative and executive decisions, (2) it was unworkable, (3) it was not economically feasible, (4) it required the Greek Cypriots in effect to themselves pay for the damages and economic losses caused by Turkey, and (5) it violated key UN Security Council resolutions.”

“In the interests of the U.S., the U.S. should address the legitimate criticisms of the Annan Plan registered by Greek Cypriots and bring pressure on Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to accept a democratic, workable and financially viable solution for reunification that is truly fair and democratic and does not reward the Turkish army's invasion and illegal 32-year occupation of a sovereign nation and faithful U.S. ally. The U.S. should publicly demand the immediate removal of the 40,000 illegal Turkish occupation troops and 120,000 illegal settlers/colonists,” said AHI President, Gene Rossides.

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