Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cypriot High Commissioner Alexandros N. Zenon replies to Jack Straw

Turkey, the EU and the Cyprus issue
'THE TIMES', Letter to the Editor

November 11 2010 1:01AM

Never has a former Foreign Secretary overlooked his country’s international treaty obligations in such a provocative manner

Sir, What is surprising about Jack Straw’s article (“No ifs or buts, Turkey must be part of the EU”, Opinion, Nov 8) is not so much his inflammatory positions but his lack of understanding of basic facts of the Cyprus problem.

Cyprus became a member of the EU after long negotiations, having fulfilled all criteria, with the support of Mr Straw’s predecessor and of the UK. Accepting a proposed plan for solution was never a precondition, hence the need for a referendum.

Despite his claims, Cyprus, never vetoed Turkey’s membership, but was not given a blank cheque either. The 2006 decision to “freeze” a number of chapters was taken unanimously by all member states, including the UK, due to Turkey’s refusal to fulfil her obligations vis-à-vis the EU and its member states.

While Mr Straw is ready to admit “Turkish Army’s occupation”, he did not condemn this tragic reality. Instead, he calls on the UK Government “to consider formally the partition of Cyprus”. Never before has a former Foreign Secretary overlooked his country’s international treaty obligations and UN Security Council decisions, guaranteeing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, in such a provocative manner.

Mr Straw seems to have anticipated the fury that his comments would cause. I am not going to ask him to “wash his mouth with carbolic”. After all, it is not his words that I, and thousands of Cypriot refugees, find disturbing, but his logic. Can he not really see that the consequence of his line of thinking would open a highway for his worst fears to come about?

Alexandros N. Zenon
High Commissioner for the Republic of Cyprus, London SW1


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