Letter to The Washington Times, March 30, 1998

March 30, 1998

To the Editor of the Washington Times:

Andrew Borowiec’s March 25th and 29th reports ("Cyprus A Threat to EU Growth" and "EU’s Growth Stumbles Over Cyprus’ Division") propagate misconceptions which continue to hinder closure to the Cyprus tragedy. Placing the onus for resolving the dispute on the Cypriots -- a nation which was invaded, its inhabitants ethnically cleansed, and close to 40% of their territory occupied by Turkish troops -- is not only morally perverse but reinforces a dangerous and destabilizing precedent which rewards aggression. More importantly, by citing "irreconcilable differences" between Greek and Turkish Cypriots as a justification for excluding Cyprus from the EU, Mr. Borowiec lends credence to the very pretext that was used to justify Turkey’s nightmarish invasion of this European island-nation. This misconception not only continues to blame the tragedy on its very victims, but continues to punish them as well by denying Greek Cypriots the right to join a European Union that is eager to have them.

That the Turkish Cypriots fared far better under Cyprus’ pre-invasion Government, economically as well as in terms of civil and political rights, belies a resignation to a divided Cyprus. The same atmosphere of political oppression that characterizes Turkey today pervades occupied Cyprus, and while free Cyprus has achieved stunning economic prosperity, occupied Cyprus has deteriorated into a virtual ghetto wholly subsidized by Turkey. Many Turkish Cypriots, particularly those old enough to remember life while Greeks and Turks coexisted in a unified Cyprus, openly welcome reunification. This time last year, Turkish Cypriots held a march in occupied Kyrenia to oppose the occupation regime’s wholesale importation of Turkish settlers and to protest against a rash of armed robberies and killings by mainland Turks.

The huge strides the Greek Government has made in its treatment of its Muslim and Turkish minorities, who are afforded full representation in Greek Parliament as well as the benefit of an affirmative-action educational program, further belies the myth that Turks and Greeks cannot coexist. While Turkish troops have killed a number of unarmed Greek Cypriots during the past two years, the civil and political rights of Greece’s flourishing Muslim minority are protected to a far greater degree than those of their co-religionists in Turkey.

Even during the most violent internecine fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots during the 1960’s, deaths and serious injuries, Turkish or Greek, were comparatively few and certainly did not approach those inflicted by the 1974 invasion, when thousands of Greek Cypriots were killed, maimed and raped by Turkish troops. A genuine familiarity with the island’s recent history will invariably lead to an understanding that neither the Greek nor Turkish Cypriots pose a serious threat to one another. It is the occupation forces from Turkey that do, and that have inflicted the overwhelming number of fatalities on the island since its independence from British rule.

Very truly yours,

P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.

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