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Media Watch 2005

18 February 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 18 February 2005.
Visit to the north roundly condemned
"President Tassos Papadopoulos said: "Such actions cause ill will among the Cypriot population and do not contribute by any means improving relations between Cyprus and the US, nor create the necessary climate for efforts to reunify Cyprus... Today Turkish Cypriots, as indigenous residents are European citizens," he said. "If a separate state is created they would automatically lose this privilege that is theirs through the Cyprus Republic under our own efforts and at our expense". Angelides said entry to the island from airports in the north constituted a penal offence with a prison term of between one and three years. He said Cyprus was legally entitled to ask the US for explanations and if it deemed necessary to issue arrest warrants through the EU, which could be executed in the US."

Vassiliou says though a disturbing development, the visit would not be the last of its kind

CONDEMNATION of the visit by American businessmen to the north yesterday was widespread, emanating from government, the business community and politicians, with some warning that this was just the beginning.

Speaking before his departure for an official visit to Malta President Tassos Papadopoulos said: “Such actions cause ill will among the Cypriot population and do not contribute by any means improving relations between Cyprus and the US, nor create the necessary climate for efforts to reunify Cyprus.”

Representations to the US had already been made, he said.

Papadopoulos said the government supported trade between the two sides within the context of the EU-approved Green Line regulations “legally and according to international rights and rules of the European Union “. He said it was the Turkish Cypriot side that was preventing trade becoming a two-way street while using the visit by the US delegation to the north for political gain. “Perhaps the fact that it is a pre-election period has something to do with this,” Papadopoulos said.

He also said he did not believe the US would ultimately recognise the breakaway administration in the north in any kind of “Taiwan model”, and this was also not the aim of the Turkish Cypriot side at this point, he added.

“Today Turkish Cypriots, as indigenous residents are European citizens,” he said. “If a separate state is created they would automatically lose this privilege that is theirs through the Cyprus Republic under our own efforts and at our expense”.

United Democrats leader and moderate George Vassiliou described the US visit as an unpleasant development – particularly as the businessmen were accompanied by the US commercial attaché from Ankara. He said the event was worrying for the Greek Cypriot side.
“We can we disagree all we want, but you will see other such visits or actions,” he said. “This is a fact”.

Vassiliou was speaking after a meeting with opposition DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades who said: “The presence among the delegation of the commercial attaché from the US is unacceptable for us but worrying,” he said. “We have to send a message of protest and disagreement in the strongest possible terms.”

During its plenary session yesterday afternoon the House also condemned the visit while the House Legal and Commerce Committees expressed their outrage earlier in the day.

DIKO deputy and member of the legal Committee Andreas Angelides said measures should be taken against the US for violating bilateral agreements with Cyprus such as extradition treaties.

Angelides said entry to the island from airports in the north constituted a penal offence with a prison term of between one and three years. He said Cyprus was legally entitled to ask the US for explanations and if it deemed necessary to issue arrest warrants through the EU, which could be executed in the US.

However AKEL’s Yiannakis Thoma it said that although the actions of the US were “reprehensible” he would not advise such a move.

Committee Chairman Ioannis Nicolaou said the issue should be raised in the EU because when Cyprus joined the bloc it undertook responsibility to control entry and exit of the island.

Lefteris Christoforou, the chairman of the Commerce Committee said he had sent a letter to US ambassador Michael Klosson saying the Committee was “astonished” by the visit.

“We are astounded that this obviously provocative move was not just tolerated but had the consent of your government and with your support,” the letter said.

Businessmen on the island were also ticked off with the US. The Cyprus American Business Association said it disagreed with the move, and was concerned.

It said the visit could easily worsen the situation between the two sides because it obstructed efforts towards a settlement.

“The association’s members feel extremely embarrassed as their brand names market image and business potential in the local market are being negatively affected,” it said in a statement.

It also said it showed a lack of respect towards the sensitivities of the Republic of Cyprus. “This act, apart from its political implications, creates a lot of business complications and confusion,” the Association said. It has requested a meeting with Klosson to explore other ways of promoting American trade and business between the two communities.

World Trade Centre (WTC) Cyprus also objected to the visit, which it said was claiming to come under the auspices of the organisation’s SME support via WTC Ankara.

Mehran Eftekhar director of WTC Cyprus said the Cyprus branch has the exclusive licence for the operations of the World Trade Centre for the whole of the island, and that no other faction of the organisation can interfere.

“We have made it clear both verbally and in writing that the visit does not have our support. It is political, against the spirit of the World Trade centres Association principles, and interferes with our work,” Eftekhar said in a written statement."