Cyprus Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou – Markoullis’s meetings this week with key US policymakers, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana-Ros-Lehtinen and Howard Berman respectively, took place at a critical time in the formulation of US policy toward Cyprus as Washington is undergoing a re-evaluation of its Cyprus policy. Indications are that in addition to other important commitments, Foreign Minister Kozakou-Markoullis secured reassurance of America’s unequivocal support for Cyprus’ right to exploit its natural resources.
In September one out of four United States Senators across the country expressed to President Barack Obama their concern about American policy toward Turkey’s occupation and division of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as American policy toward the Government of Cyprus.
In August one out of four Members of the House across the country sent a very similar letter to President Obama. Members signing the House letter included the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and represented over 150 million Americans.
Both the Senate letter and the House letter made a strong case that Cyprus is one of our few allies in a difficult neighborhood and should be highly valued. The letters suggested, however, that American policy toward the government of Cyprus has not been universally fair. They indicated that the Congress would like to work with the President to correct this problem.
These letters lamented Turkey’s over 37-year-old military occupation of the northern third of Cyprus and were critical of that occupation’s treatment of the people of Cyprus with particular emphasis on the Turkish military’s interruption and prohibition of the Cypriot Christmas church worship services in December 2010. As well, they pointed out that such conduct is injurious to the future of Turkey, particularly its interest in acceding to the EU.