Washington.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Greek American Community reacted strongly on reports for a possible meeting between Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Washington. Eleven leaders of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) in a letter sent to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden issued a strong warning, pointing out that “that certain officials in your Administration are considering actions that are on the verge of extending the Bush Administration doctrine even further by establishing a Cyprus policy that contradicts both of your clearly articulated views on the issue.”.
The Greek American leaders call President Obama and Vice President Biden to “intervene before they cause America problems that will take years to correct”.
Expressing the feelings of the Greek American Community, the ask Obama and Biden to “overturn these misguided actions by people in your Administration. The Greek-American community that has been so committed to your Presidency and Vice Presidency, and the hope that they believed it would bring to the militarily occupied nation of Cyprus, will be devastated.”
The strong warning comes just days before the meeting of the Greek American leadership with President Barack Obama, during the White House celebration of the Greek Independence Day. Archbishop Demetrios who is going to be leading the Greek American delegation is having a meeting on Monday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at the Department of State. In addition to the issues of the religious freedoms and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that are violated by Turkey, Archbishop Demetrios is expected to raise the objections of the community to a meeting between Hilary Clinton and Mr Talat.
According to Hasan Ercakica, spokesman of Mr Talat, the Turkish Cypriot leader is going to meet Hillary Clinton on March 30. While in Washington, Mr Talat will have meeting with Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor James Jones and leading members of U.S. Congress.
According to Mr Ercakica the meetings were confirmed on Thursday, although State Department spokesman Robert Wood avoided any answers at the briefing.
“I don't have anything for you at this point, whether there will be a meeting or not. I just don't know”, was Mr Wood’s reply to a question by Greek News Washington correspondent Lambros Papandoniou.
Cyprus Government spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said that “we are monitoring the issue and those who must act are acting. As always, he continued, we examine and analyze any developments which in one way or another affect Cyprus”.
Stephanou noted that “it is too early to come to any conclusions, bearing in mind that we have not seen anything yet as regards the crux of the matter.”
On Friday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a telephone conversation with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. According to diplomatic sources Secretary Clinton explained the reason behind her intention to meet with Talat and reassured that there is no change of the U.S. Cyprus policy. According to unconfirmed information a similar call was made to Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou.
“Too little too late”, was the reaction of a Greek American leader asked by Greek News.
According wll informed sources the meeting was suggested by U.S. Embassy in Nicosia as an American helping hand to Mehmet Ali Talt whose Turkish Republican Party trails by some distance the resurging National Unity Party (UBP), headed by hardliner Dervis Eroglu, in the upcoming “elections”.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was also pushing for a meeting between Talat and Clinton in an effort to boost his ratings, convincing Hillary to receive him in Washington.
Talat was invited to Washington just after the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan Plan in 2004, where the then Secretary of State Colin Powell did his best to make him feel welcome, addressing Talat as “Mr Prime Minister”.
March 20, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The Honorable Joseph Biden
Vice President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama and Vice President Biden:
It has come to our attention that certain officials in your Administration are considering actions that are on the verge of extending the Bush Administration doctrine even further by establishing a Cyprus policy that contradicts both of your clearly articulated views on the issue. Please intervene before they cause America problems that will take years to correct.
Your Administration has not yet held high level contacts with either the President or the Foreign Minister of Cyprus. Thus, we are shocked to learn from a statement by the Turkish-Cypriot spokesman in Cyprus that they are now on the verge of establishing this Administration’s de facto recognition of an illegal entity in Cyprus’ militarily occupied area, while ignoring the internationally recognized Cyprus government. We understand that they plan to do this through high level Administration meetings with the leader of the pseudo-state before meetings with the President or Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus.
You said to us in 2007, Mr. President, that America was “able to rely on Cyprus in the War on Terror and we were able to rely on Cyprus during the Lebanon Crisis.” Cyprus again demonstrated its support for U.S. security efforts by recently stopping an arms shipment from Iran to Hamas at U.S. urging. The last time Cyprus took such an action, Syria retaliated by taking a step toward de facto recognition of the occupied area of Cyprus by establishing ferry boat service to the north. If the people in your Administration follow through with these meetings, particularly before meeting with the government of Cyprus, our country will have punished Cyprus in the same way Syria did, by taking a step toward de facto recognition of the occupied area.
We know that you want, as you said to us, a “solution to the situation in Cyprus…based on the rule of law, not on force, one that is based on UN resolutions passed on the Cyprus issue, and on the very principles and standards of the EU….” Yet, the occupied area of Cyprus, with which your people are aligning you, is an anathema to those principles -- forced into place by more Turkish troops on that little island than America has in Afghanistan. Such de facto recognition will further solidify Turkish insistence on unreasonable Cyprus settlement provisions that virtually all Democrats on the Senate European Affairs Subcommittee objected to and which even a majority of the Republicans on that Subcommittee called “unacceptable to western democracies” in a letter to President Bush.
We understand that the Administration supports Turkey’s eventual accession into the European Union, as does the Republic of Cyprus. Pursuing anything that suggests de facto recognition of the occupation regime would not only be contrary to countless UN Security Council resolutions, but it would perhaps force the Republic of Cyprus to reconsider its stance with regard to Turkey and the EU.
Please overturn these misguided actions by people in your Administration. The Greek-American community that has been so committed to your Presidency and Vice Presidency, and the hope that they believed it would bring to the militarily occupied nation of Cyprus, will be devastated.
Courtesy of Greek News, a Greek-American weekly newspaper