US urged to prod Turks toward Cyprus solution
Cyprus hopes the United States will use its "leverage" on Turkey to help reach a Cyprus peace settlement when the Greek and Turkish Cypriot community talks reopen here Sept. 15. So says Cyprus Foreign Minister Nicos Rolandis.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The government of President Spyros Kyprianou feels that prospects for success of the new round of talks, the seventh since Turkey invaded Cyprus in July, 1974 , "are not very auspicious, but we will hope and work hard for good results," Mr. Rolandis said in an interview here.
Cyprus-US relations are "good, but we have the feeling that the US could have done more than it has done" since the US Congress in 1978 lifted the arms embargo it imposed on Turkey for using US arms in the Cyprus invasion.
"To be fair," Mr. Rolandis added, "we know demarches have been made by the United States and the Western world" with Turkey to agree to a compromise settlement. The objective is to restore this divided republic's territorial unity and bring about an evacuation of the 26,000 Turkish troops occupying 40 percent of the island.
"The trouble is," Mr. Rolandis added, "there are many kinds of demarches. . . . You don't just send an envoy to say, 'Why don't you do something about Cyprus?' I have the feeling that nothing much more than that was done in the past."
Both the Greek Cypriots and the Greek government in Athens have frequently urged the US and European Community (EC) nations to tie massive amounts of Western economic and military aid, now being pumped into Turkey's impoverished economy and underequipped armed forces, to concessions on Cyprus.
The US has been giving Cyprus about $15 million yearly since the invasion, aid that has been used mainly to build permanent housing for more than 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees displaced from their homes in the north by the Turkish Army, and by settlers from the Turkish mainland who have taken over the refugees' houses and property.
Most of the refugees have been re-housed, and new US legislation, encouraged by US Ambassador to Cyprus Galen Stone, is before Congress to use future American aid funds here to pay for exchange scholarships for Cypriots to study in the United States.
Mr. Rolandis said prospects for the Cypriot community talks, which reopened ceremonially under United Nations auspices here Aug. 9 and are to begin substantive sessions Sept. 15, were dimmed by recent Turkish statements. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash indicated the Greek Cypriot refugees should be considered as permanently resettled and should renounce their right to return to their homes. A succession of UN resolutions has sustained this right, however.
Mr. Rolandis said references by Mr. Denktash to an "exchange of populations" between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in a final settlement probably were based on an erroneous interpretation of a 1975 Greek-Turkish agreement reached in Vienna. That provided for moving Turkish Cypriot war refugees, then camped on the two big sovereign British bases here, to northern Cyprus.
Mr. Denktash also has indicated that territorial adjustments could include return to Greek control of at least some of the Turkish-occupied seaport and former resort of Famagusta, on the Cyprus east coast, the centerpiece of Greek Cypriot hopes and demands. Varosha, the modern resort quarter of Famagusta, would be one of the four "cardinal points" on the agenda of the new talks, Mr. Rolandis said.
The other three points, as agreed by the late Cyprus President Archbishop Makarios with Mr. Denktash before the Archbishop passed on in 1977, would include: restoring an atmosphere of mutual confidence between the two separated communities; constitutional arrangements for a new binational Cyprus state; and a final settlement of the internal territorial boundaries of the new state, Mr. Rolandis added.
The Cyprus foreign minister acknowledged that Turkey's troubled internal situation and the difficulties of Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel's harassed government complicate the talks.
Mr. Rolandis said he is looking forward to meeting US Secretary of State Edmund Muskie Sept. 23 for a "thorough review" of progress reached by then before deciding what steps Cyprus should take in the forthcoming autumn session of the UN General Assembly.