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Media Watch 2005

15 May 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 15 May 2005.
Government fury at Congress visit to the north
"THE government has made strong representations to the US over a planned visit by a group of Congressmen to the north of the island, calling the move provocative and insensitive... the visit violated Security Council resolutions, provoked public sentiment and followed a series of other unacceptable moves by the US “that aim at upgrading the status of the illegal Turkish Cypriot occupation regime... It is unacceptable to sacrifice international law and small states for the sake of political expediency.”"

THE government has made strong representations to the US over a planned visit by a group of Congressmen to the north of the island, calling the move provocative and insensitive.

Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Ambassador Sotos Zacheos has asked that the congressmen review their decision to enter Cyprus through occupied Tymbou (Ercan) airport, which is considered an illegal port of entry.

He asked that they use the internationally recognised ports or airports in the south if they wanted to visit the island.

Zacheos told Ed Nolan, the chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in Nicosia that the visit violated Security Council resolutions, provoked public sentiment and followed a series of other unacceptable moves by the US “that aim at upgrading the status of the illegal Turkish Cypriot occupation regime.”

”It is unacceptable to sacrifice international law and small states for the sake of political expediency,” he said.

“No government or state official of the Republic will accept the US Congress delegation if it arrives through the occupied areas, in violation of Security Council resolutions and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus,” an official Foreign Ministry announcement said.
Democratic Congressman from Florida Robert Wexler announced last week that a delegation headed by him and Kentucky Democrat Wayne Edward Whitefield would be visiting Turkey on June 1 and would travel on to the north.

This will be the first such visit by US congressmen through the north.
The delegation comprises members of the Friends of Turkey Group in the US Congress.

US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday there was no legal prohibition against US citizens travelling to the north. “We certainly encourage congressional delegations to go out in the world and find out about situations that they’re interested in,” he said,

“US personnel, even government personnel, have been allowed to fly into Ercan airport and there’s nothing stopping them from doing that.”
He said if the State Department were asked about any such trip, “we would have to tell them that there’s no legal prohibition against US citizens travelling to northern Cyprus. The delegation’s making its own decisions about travel and you’d have to check with them to get confirmation of their travel plans.”"