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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-06-07

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] EU summit unlikely to change previous decisions
  • [02] Greek American leaders criticise US policy in Cyprus

  • 1300:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] EU summit unlikely to change previous decisions

    by Maria Myles

    Nicosia, Jun 7 (CNA) -- A senior European Union official appears sympathetic with Greece's position on the Union's relations with Turkey and believes that there will be no "fundamental change" in the EU position at the Cardiff summit on this score.

    Director General of the European Commission Task Force for the accession negotiations with Cyprus, Nikolaus van der Pas, also said the EU does not intend to "kill Cyprus' offshore sector" but indicated it has to be adjusted to fit into the Union's fiscal norms.

    Speaking to CNA at the close of his working visit to Cyprus, van der Pas described the Luxembourg package offered to Ankara, last December, as "balanced, clear, open, honest and fair" and said member states would "jump on any fresh ideas the current British presidency may have to render this offer more acceptable to Turkey."

    Noting that "a lot of effort" is being made by the presidency to repackage the deal for Turkey, he said "I am not sure if one should expect a fundamental change in the EU position because the Luxembourg offer was a good package for Turkey, Greece and Cyprus."

    Last December's summit was not the time "to say we can start negotiating with Turkey," he explained, as the country's behaviour will have to be monitored on several counts in the years ahead.

    He said the Luxembourg conclusions reflect for the first time unanimity about an unambiguous statement that one day Turkey will become an EU member and also includes provisions that reflect Greece's positions (authority of the court in the Hague).

    Asked how Greece could be encouraged to lift its veto on EU funds destined for Turkey, van der Pas replied: "In a situation when the first move from Turkey was a negative move, one should not be surprised that Greece has great difficulty accepting to make a move itself."

    Expressing "some sympathy" with the Greek position, the EU official told CNA it would be "difficult to tell Greece, an EU member, to move first if Turkey did not move."

    Explaining the EU offer to Turkey, he said for the first time all 15 members "had a clear position on the unfreezing of the financial protocol with Turkey".

    Turkey was asked to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court in the Hague, to establish good neighbourly relations with Greece, help resolve the Cyprus problem and respect human rights.

    Outlining the EU position on the offshore sector, in relation to Cyprus, Van der Pas said "Cyprus should not expect that the offshore sector can be carried into the EU without any further discussion and maintain it as it is, because inside the Union there is an intensifying debate about the effects of tax rates in any sector."

    He explained that the EU "is not out to kill the offshore sector in Cyprus", which is thriving, and added "the starting point is that you have an important part of your economy based to a large extent on differentiation of the fiscal treatment."

    Noting Cyprus' "strong determination" to get on with the screening process, he said so far there has been discussion on science and research, telecommunications, education and training, small and medium size enterprises, foreign and security policy and now company law is under discussion.

    In July talks will tackle the movement of goods, he said, an area he described as "difficult and interesting."

    "We hope to conclude all 31 chapters of the screening process by July next year," he added.

    On the issue of Turkish Cypriot participation in the accession process, he said the EU will keep "the door open and will be ready to take them on board whatever time they come into the process."

    He said the EU repeatedly outlines the positive aspects of the accession process in terms of the economy to encourage the Turkish Cypriots to join the talks and cites Greece, Portugal and Ireland as examples of countries within the EU who have benefited economically.

    Replying to questions, he said he could not tell why the Turkish Cypriot do not heed all this and added that the EU explains the personal benefits or consequences of European integration to them to bring them along to the negotiating table.

    EU accession talks with Cyprus and five central and eastern European countries got underway in March.

    CNA MM/MA/1998

    [02] Greek American leaders criticise US policy in Cyprus

    by Demitris Apokis

    Washington, Jun 7 (CNA) -- A Greek American businessman and strong supporter of the US President, Angelo Tsakopoulos, will write to Bill Clinton to express "deep concern over US policy in the eastern Mediterranean, specifically regarding the Cyprus question and its impact on Greek-Turkish relations".

    Tsakopoulos, one of the US President's closest friends, wrote the letter and is circulating it around the US for signing by politically prominent and economically powerful Greek American leaders, this week.

    The letter, obtained by CNA, says that the Greek-American community is "deeply distressed over the deteriorating situation that is descending towards a war between Greece and Turkey, if you administration does not correct its misguided policy of the past five years".

    Tsakopoulos warns that "the opportunity for a peaceful, just and lasting solution in Cyprus is before you. If war breaks out between our NATO allies over Cyprus, your administration will bear considerable responsibility".

    "The impending crisis revolves around the continued Turkish occupation and division of Cyprus, which is acquiring an anti-aircraft defence system as a deterrent against potential Turkish air attacks," he adds, referring to the Russian-made S-300 defence missile system.

    He says the Clinton administration's "relentless criticism of Nicosia's acquisition decision, over the past seventeen months, has opened the door to escalating Turkish threats to prevent delivery of the weapons or to attack the weapons site upon installation".

    The prominent Greek American leaders add that as "Greece has vowed to defend Cyprus against a Turkish attack with a military response, clearly this is a prescription for disaster".

    The letter points out that "the White House and State Department suggestions that the deployment of the defensive weapons would complicate negotiating efforts would be far more credible if your administration publicly voiced objection to Turkey's illegal military occupation forces.

    By focusing instead on Cypriot defensive weapons, your administration has obscured the truly destablising impact of the Turkish occupation on Greek-Turkish relations and the region at large."

    The letter points out that "reckless talks in Washington that possible hostilities in Cyprus can serve a useful purpose as a catalyst for a dramaatic negotiating breakthrough has been encouraged by your administration's acquiescence of Turkish threats and the continued refusal to condemn any planned acts of violence or war".

    Tsakopoulos also says that the State Department's "policy of equivalence between Cyprus' sovereign right to self defence and Turkish threats to attack Cyprus is outrageous", and notes it is "unacceptable" that the ongoing Turkish occupation is "effectively ignored".

    Such policies signal the Turkish General Staff that its potential violent actions against Cyprus will bear no consequences," the Greek American leader adds.

    He refers to last December's European Union decision regarding Turkey and criticises the US administration because "instead of using the European decision to deliver the right message to Ankara - that compliance with EU conditions was in Turkey's self-interest - your administration urged the EU to conform to Turkish obstinacy".

    In its Luxembourg summit, the EU did not include Turkey in the countries with which accession talks would begin and set preconditions for improvement of relations, including Ankara's backing of efforts to settle the Cyprus question.

    The letter proposes to President Clinton four steps to correct his administration's policy, the first being to convey to the Turkish General Staff that it considers threats to attack Cyprus unacceptable, and that if they are carried out they would have consequences on US-Turkey relations.

    It suggests that the US should publicly endorse the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Cyprus, in line with resolutions approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

    The third step proposed by the Greek American leaders is that "the administration should support the unconditional accession of Cyprus to the EU" and the fourth to call for "the abandoned city of Famagusta to be turned over to UN control for reconstruction and repopulation".

    Before the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of 37 per cent of the island's territory, Famagusta, in the eastern coast, was one of the most popular tourist resorts, but today it is an abandoned "ghost town".

    "Mr. President, there is no better time to re-evaluate your administration's policies in the eastern Mediterranean. Wide, bipartisan congressional support exists right now" for a solution based on international law, UN resolutions and democratic principles, the letter says.

    "In this light we should encourage the European orientation of Turkey, but not at the expense of NATO, not of Cyprus and not against the fundamental principles of Western democracy we share with other allies in the EU," it concludes.

    Sources close to Taskopoulos told CNA the California businessman's aim is to send Clinton the strong message that there is a danger for the Democratic Party to loose the support of the Greek Americans in the upcoming November elections.

    The letter includes a message to Vice President Al Gore that if the administration follows this path it will be difficult for him to have the political and economic support of the Greek Americans in the 2000 presidential elections.

    Diplomatic sources in Washington told CNA that the letter's strong language is unusual and that it is targeting the problem at its heart. They also said that it is very difficult for the administration and the President not to take it into consideration because the people who will sign it are politically and economically powerful.

    CNA DA/MA/GG/1998
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