Dear Mr. Secretary,
We are writing to express concern that recent actions and statements by your Department may be undermining the bilateral relations and the strategic partnership between the United States and Cyprus. As proud Americans and members of the Greek and Cypriot diasporas, we have for decades advocated both in Washington D.C. and in Nicosia for stronger bilateral relations between the two countries. It was with excitement and confidence in the future that we greeted Vice President Biden’s declaration of a “strategic partnership” with the Republic of Cyprus.
Developments over the past month have not only tempered our initial enthusiasm, but leave us concerned that progress in bilateral relations and in bringing a just resolution to Cyprus is being actively undermined. Most worrisome was the equivocal nature of the State Department’s response to Turkey’s NAVTEX making claims on the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ. This response coming on the heels of efforts within the State Department to promote Mr. Özdil Nami during a U.S. tour during which he did nothing but undermine the reunification negotiations have prompted us to write to you.
Mr. Secretary, the equivocal response to the latest Turkish provocation is a risk that was not worth taking. That public enthusiasm in Cyprus for the relationship with the U.S. is now tempered and that an opening has been created for more Russian involvement is a development that none of us anticipated a few months ago. In our opinion, this shift is due to a failure in U.S. policy.
Turkey has demonstrated that its provocative NAVTEX was no bluff by sending ships into Cyprus’ EEZ on Monday. If the U.S. is to reclaim its role of honest broker and strategic partner in Cyprus, a clearer statement condemning any claims on or incursions into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone must be issued. To be silent or equivocal during this provocation will jeopardize a Cyprus settlement and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, while doing nothing to help in the fight against the Islamic State.