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Media Watch 2005

13 May 2005
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Menelaos Hadjicostis
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 13 May 2005.
US Congressmen warned over using Tymbou
"Ambassador Mark Parris told the Subcommittee that favourable decisions on American use of the Incirlik air base and granting a lucrative contract to giant US defence contractor Lockheed, gives Ankara leverage to lean on Washington to keep its word helping the Turkish Cypriot community"

NICOSIA warned American Congressmen they would be in breach of international law and UN resolutions if they follow through with a planned trip to the occupied north next month through the illegal Tymbou airport.

Florida Democrat Florida Robert Wexler reportedly told a Congressional subcommittee on Wednesday that he and Kentucky Republican Edward Whitfield would be paying Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat a courtesy call to congratulate him for his ‘presidential’ election win.

Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said members of Congress would be acting illegally if they do not enter Cyprus through legal ports of entry.

"If the delegation travels to the occupied areas (through Tymbou), that would be nothing more than another illegal action, which is contrary to UN Security Council resolutions," Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides told reporters.

Security Council Resolution 550 urges UN members to neither recognise nor assist the illegal regime in any way.

Wexler and Whitfield would be heading a delegation from the US House of Representatives’ Turkish Friendship Group on the trip to the occupied north at the tail-end of a visit to Turkey on June 1.

Wexler is reportedly the co-chairman of the Turkish Friendship group.

The Washington correspondent of Istanbul daily Milliyet reported that Wexler announced the trip to the north during a discussion of US-Turkey relations at the Subcommittee on Europe and Emerging Threats.

"A congressional delegation is planning a visit to Turkey and north Cyprus which would assist in improving the climate between Washington and Ankara," Wexler was quoted as telling the subcommittee.

Backing

However, Wexler evaded reporters’ questions following the discussion on whether the trip would go ahead, saying only that he would visit Ankara.

Milliyet quoted sources close to Wexler as saying the trip is in the pipeline but are to make it official so as to forestall Greek-American lobby attempts to prevent it.

The trip north may not be officially sanctioned by Washington, but Greek-American lobby officials said it has the full backing of the US State Department.

Washington has pledged it would help end the ‘isolation’ of Turkish Cypriots as just reward for approving the UN reunification plan in the April 24, 2004 referendums.

Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the plan they saw as a sell-out to Turkey.

Pall

Ambassador Mark Parris told the Subcommittee that favourable decisions on American use of the Incirlik air base and granting a lucrative contract to giant US defence contractor Lockheed, gives Ankara leverage to lean on Washington to keep its word helping the Turkish Cypriot community.

Reports said this would be the first time members of the US Congress would travel directly to the north.

It would follow a controversial visit of an American business delegation headed by the US commercial attache in Ankara days prior to the north’s Feb. 20 parliamentary ‘elections’.

President Tassos Papadopoulos had warned the trip could hurt relations between Nicosia and Washington and would cast a pall over attempts to launch fresh settlement talks.

Nicosia declared illegal all ports of entry in the occupied north following the 1974 Turkish invasion."