Turkish Cypriot visits to U.S.

Some participants in the process seem more willing than others to make needed concessions. The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for instance has said his country wants to make sure that large numbers of Greek Cypriots are prevented permanently prevented from settling in the Turkish-dominated northern enclave in the north and wishes the European Union to see Cyprus as an exception, a special case, with regard to the laws on the right to free settlement, but it must be said that such views are not universally held among the Turkish community on the island

Written from the Cypriot capital Nicosia the report explains how Greek leaders on the island have been disturbed by the attempts of th eTurkish community to break out of the political and economic isolation into which they have been forced by circumstances. It seems they were particularly annoyed by a visit to both Washington and New York by the Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Talat, soon followed by visits by several members of the Turkish –Cypriot parliament. The Greek Cypriot leader, President Tassos Papadopoulos, is reported as saying :-

The U. S. moves promote divisive tendencies instead of bringing about reunification. They create hope that the [Turkish] occupation regime could possibly be upgraded to a separate legal entity. Mr Talat on the other hand said that in his talk with Condoleeza Rice, the American Secretary of State, he had only asked the America :- “To continue their path, their line of supporting the lifting of isolation of Turkish Cypriots and to further encourage other countries to take similar steps. ”

A representive of the American State Department made a statement explaining that his country wanted to help the island towards re-unification by reducing the economic disparity then present with per capita incomes for Greek Cypriots being treble that of their Turkish neighbours. The report includes an interview with Gustav Feissel , the United Nations representative on the island for 14 years, who claimed tha t the plan by General Secretary Annan, although well meant, “a very sincere effort … it has left such a bad taste in people’s mouths that trying to fix it would be nearly impossible.

” He went on to say that the proposals should be scrapped and that although both sides were now able to pass back and forth over the dividing line this has not helped matters. He discusses the problem of continued Turkish infiltration and settlement in the northern section of the island, saying that time was running out, as soon the majority population in th enorth would be Turkish rather than Turkish Cypriot. It is difficult for outsiders to see why these visits caused such a strongly adverse reaction.

If theTurkish Cypriot position did improve, both politically and economically, why is this considered to be so detrimental to the Greek Cypriot islanders? David Blair writing in the Daily Telegraph of August 2007 headed his article Cyprus may be split permanently. Writing from Nicosia he states that the view of President Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Turkish section of the island, is that ‘Cyprus faces “permanent partition” unless the “poisonous wound” of the conflict between Greek and Turk is resolved soon.

For many years Northern Cyprus was dominated politically by hardline Turkish nationalists, in particular by Rauf Denktash. Mr Talat, a more moderate Left-winger, was elected to office in 2005 , and favours both unity and power-sharing. He believes that those northern politicians who are on favour of unification will be replaced by hardline successors who oppose this choice and who favour instead a permanent separation of the two sides. According to President Talat:- The division is deepening.

There are opinion polls which indicate that the majority of Turkish Cypriots are in favour of the two-state solution: permanent partition. This shows a huge change of position from 2004 when the 250,000Turks present on the island, and who occupy about 38% of its land area, overwhelmingly supported the plans put forwad by the then Secetary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. His plan was to formally reunite Cyprus, but for the majority of practical purposes run it as if it were two separate Swiss-type cantons.