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Op-Ed on “Financial Times’ Bias—Arm of British Foreign Office”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
December 22, 2006—No. 90 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed on “Financial Times’ Bias—Arm of British Foreign Office”

Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in the December 22, 2006 issue of The National Herald, page 9, the December 22 issue ofCyprus Weekly, Nicosia and it will appear in the December 25, 2006 issue of Greek News, page 36 and the January 3, 2007 issue of The Hellenic Voice.

Financial Times’ Bias—Arm of British Foreign Office

By Gene Rossides

The Financial Times (FT) editorial of December 1, 2006 titled “Turkey and EU held hostage by Cyprus” is (1) a blatantly biased editorial against the government of Cyprus and (2) demonstrates that the Financial Times is basically an arm of and a mouthpiece for the British Foreign Office.

It has been my contention for years that the British press on foreign policy issues is basically an arm of the British Foreign Office, particularly on secondary issues such as the Cyprus problem. There are exceptions, of course, but not many.

With the end of the Cold War in 1990, the British Foreign Office’s key concern in foreign affairs, on a par with national security, is the economic interests of Britain. That is a prime reason for Britain supporting Turkey’s accession to the EU regardless of whether Turkey meets (1) the EU’s requirements for accession, (2) its legal obligations under the Ankara Protocol and (3) its obligations under the UN Charter and Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

The FT and the British press have consistently embraced the Foreign Office’s views. They basically disregard human rights and the rule of law in foreign affairs and particularly so regarding Cyprus. The British have always resented the Greek Cypriots anti-colonial actions in the 1950’s and deliberately courted Turkey to raise the 18 percent Turkish Cypriot minority as an obstacle to self-determination despite the fact that Turkey had renounced all rights to Cyprus in the Lausanne Treaty of 1923.

The FT’s December 1, 2006 editorial makes charges against Cyprus and assumptions with no backup. The EU’s report on Turkey was 78 pages of which Cyprus was only a few paragraphs. The Financial Times ignores the many reasons for the EU’s freezing 8 chapters of the 35 required. (See my Op-Ed of November 28, 2006 on “The EU Report on Turkey and Turkey’s Negotiating Tactics” on the AHI Web site atwww.ahiworld.org)

The Financial Times in effect states that the prospect of EU membership is the only way to get Turkey to make progress towards democracy. That position is nonsense. There are a number of diplomatic and economic ways to apply pressure on Turkey to make reforms. Such pressure should be applied whether or not Turkey accedes to the EU.

The editorial’s statement that “The Cyprus issue can be resolved if member states are prepared to put the strategic interests of the Union above the narrow interests of the Nicosia government,” is obvious nonsense on its face. How can appeasing Turkey by removing the requirements for accession to the EU resolve the Cyprus issue?

The FT editorial is also a slap at the integrity of the EU. The FT is telling the 25 EU members, particularly France, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, that the EU acquis requirements are meaningless because it is in Britain’s economic interest to placate Turkey.

What are the “strategic interests of the Union” that the FT refers to? The FT does not describe them because they are not there—they are illusory.

The FT editorial states: “Irrespective of whether it is any longer realistic to believe Turkey will one day join the EU, that would be a geopolitically catastrophic train wreck.” I state that this assertion by the FT is also nonsense. What does “a geopolitical catastrophic train wreck” mean besides hyperbole? Where is Turkey going to go?

During the Cold War, the West foolishly appeased Turkey regarding its aggression and occupation in Cyprus and its lack of democracy at home because of Turkey’s alleged value as a NATO ally against the Soviet Union. It was wrong to do so because there was little to no chance that Turkey would take military action against the U.S.S. R. in event of a clash with the West in central Europe. (See E. Luttwak, The Political Uses of Sea Power 60-61, 1974.)

The FT supports the discredited United Nations plan which it refers as “United Nations plan for a confederal system to reunite the island.” That plan drafted primarily by Mr. David Hannay, the British Special Representative for Cyprus from 1996 to May 2003, and the British Foreign Office, would have created a new entity with 2 separate states and would have made Cyprus a protectorate of Turkey and Great Britain. It was a political and economic scandal. That plan referred to by the FT as “confederal” is also contrary to numerous UN Security Council resolutions on a federal solution to the Cyprus problem. (See my Op-Ed of May 3, 2005 on “The Annan Plan 5’s political and economic corruption provisions” on AHI’s Web site.)

The EU report is 78 pages. As it relates to Cyprus, the report is very blunt regarding Turkey’s failure to implement its commitments towards Cyprus which she is obligated to do when she signed an “Additional Protocol [the Ankara Protocol] extending the EC-Turkey Association Agreement to the ten Member States that acceded on May 1, 2004 which it [Turkey] had signed in July 2005 and which enabled the accession negotiations to start.” (Emphasis added.)

While I would have preferred a stronger report from the EU, its report is adequate to put Turkey on notice that it must meet the EU accession criteria as all other applicants have had to do.

The FT editorial is right out of the British Foreign Office and expresses Britain’s imperial and colonial attitudes.

Then there is the spectacle of Prime Minister Tony Blair rushing to Turkey to reassure Turkey after the EU Summit of December 14-15, 2006 ratified the EU Ministers decision of December 11, 2006 to freeze 8 of the 35 chapters on Turkey.

Does the FT believe in the rule of law in international relations?

Does the FT believe in democratic government based on majority rule, the rule of law and protection of minority rights?

Or does the FT believe in Britain’s divide and rule colonial policy?

The reality is that the Cyprus problem was caused by British colonialism in the 1950’s and that a fair and workable settlement is being held hostage by Britain’s colonial attitude. But that is the theme of another article.

The U.S. in its own best interests should not continue to follow British policy on the Cyprus problem.

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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.