Turkey's U.S. Ambassador Tan Responds to Harsh Criticisms of Rep. Berman on Cyprus

Image Turkey's Ambassador to the United States, Namik Tan, responded to harsh criticisms of U.S. Representative Howard Berman on Cyprus in a letter the latter sent to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently. "Having read your letter to the U.S. Secretary of State, the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, regarding Cyprus, I would like to take this opportunity to answer the allegations and concerns expressed in your letter, which was made public through various American-Greek organizations and news outlets," Tan told Berman in a letter sent.

"I have no doubt that, as one of the veterans of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, you are fully aware of Turkey's sincere commitment and constructive efforts towards the prompt achievement of a comprehensive, negotiated and mutually agreed settlement in Cyprus. As pointed out by Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on numerous occasions, the moment of truth has once again come, and the time for an agreement is now. We sincerely believe that a comprehensive solution in Cyprus is not only essential to pave the way for lasting stability, security and cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also very much achievable," Tan stressed.

"We fully understand that the old and obsolete "line of attack" on Turkey, as well as recurrent one-sided resolutions and communications coming out of the Congress with regard to the Cyprus issue continue to please certain constituencies and communities inside the United States, especially during a lively election year. Your most recent letter seems to be another episode within this long-standing and well-established practice. However, despite the repetitive nature of these initiatives, I must underscore that such an approach of placing the blame for the Cyprus question squarely on Turkish Cypriots and Turkey itself is neither helpful, nor effective in achieving a just and sustainable solution in the island that aims at establishing a new partnership through a comprehensive settlement," Tan indicated.

"As a matter of fact, Turkish Cypriot people have long proven their readiness to establish a new partnership. In 2004, they demonstrated the necessary political will for a comprehensive solution by voting strongly for the UN Settlement Plan in the separate and simultaneous referenda, a proposal that was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriot side. The Greek Cypriots have been awarded with EU membership for their anti-solution choice and they continue demonstrating their lack of enthusiasm for a settlement by blocking the process at every opportunity," Tan noted.

"Turkey and Turkish Cypriots still believe in a comprehensive solution through the completion of the ongoing negotiations by a high-level meeting at the end of April or the beginning of May. Therefore, it is in the vital interest of Turkey, the United States, and the whole international community to explore the ways of successfully benefiting from the remaining window of opportunity," Tan underlined.

"This important window of opportunity might be narrow, but a genuine prospect for making real and substantial progress towards a settlement still exists. It is time to seize this crucial opportunity and to strongly support the negotiations in progress, which can not, and should not go on forever," Tan stated.

"You will probably agree that a comprehensive settlement, which will allow a united Cyprus to assume the presidency of the EU as of July 1, 2012, will be, in and of itself, the most effective way to solve all the issues, including those related to the hydrocarbon resources belonging both to Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot peoples, -not to mention the concession blocks overlapping with the Turkish continental shelf of the self-declared exclusive economic zone of the Greek Cypriot side- as well as the demographics of the island that you refer in your letter," Tan said.

"Nevertheless, regarding the off-shore drilling activities, until a comprehensive solution could be reached, we will not tolerate the unilateral actions of the Greek Cypriot side to violate Turkey's own continental shelf or to infringe on the Turkish Cypriot people's equal and inherent rights over the exploration, exploitation and management of natural resources within the maritime jurisdiction areas of the island. Insofar as the island's demographics are concerned, let me just underscore that Turkey has never had a policy of creating illegal settlements or sending settlers anywhere. Moreover, I would like to emphasize that this issue can not be considered without taking into account the tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots who had to emigrate from their hometowns to foreign countries to survive the Greek Cypriot side's armed ethnic cleansing attempt between 1963 and 1974," Tan underlined.

"At this very decisive moment, the choice is clear: One can opt for the "business as usual" approach, overlooking the historical realities of the island (the two preceding Greek-backed coups that sought to ignore the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people and push for unification (Enosis) with Greece, as well as the forced abandonment by Turkish Cypriots of the 103 towns and villages in Cyprus between 1963 and 1974). By doing so, and continuing the 'blame-game', the international community risks to lose maybe the last opportunity for a comprehensive settlement," Tan noted.

"On the other hand, in the face of the challenges that the entire region faces today, the better alternative would be to focus all our energy on a just, lasting and mutually agreed solution by using the natural resources of the island as a historic 'game-changer', and not a liability or distraction," Tan stressed.

"We will have to answer a fundamental question in the upcoming weeks: Are we going to put in place all necessary efforts in order to reach a comprehensive solution in Cyprus, and thus demonstrate the political will to that effect, or are we going to let an achievable settlement slide once again by allowing the Greek Cypriots to torpedo all efforts at compromise, all the while perpetuating the illegitimate and unjust isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people- That decision will shape the future not only of the island, but the whole region," Tan said.

Ambassador Tan told Representative Berman in his letter that he would be happy to meet him to further elaborate.

"We value our country's longstanding relationship with the United States and will always welcome American interest and efforts in encouraging both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to secure the lasting settlement that they deserve," Tan also said in his letter.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07