Search

 

Cablegate: Famagusta Mayor Favors Increased Bi-Communal

VZCZCXRO5752
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHNC #0418/01 1351441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151441Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY NICOSIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7807
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0851
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NICOSIA 000418

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE, EUR/ERA, IO/UNP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV UNFICYP CY TU
SUBJECT: FAMAGUSTA MAYOR FAVORS INCREASED BI-COMMUNAL
CONTACTS

REF: 06 NICOSIA 1521

1. (SBU) INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY: Despite the total
failure of the so-called "Finnish Initiative" in 2006
(Reftel), Greek Cypriot officials and property owners in
Famagusta are actively seeking ways to keep their issue on
the political map. The opening of the fenced-off area of
Varosha and its eventual reconstruction by Turkish and Greek
Cypriots working hand-in-hand would constitute an
unparalleled confidence-building measure, Famagusta
Mayor-in-exile Alexis Galanos told the Ambassador May 10. In
hopes of building a bi-communal lobbying effort for his
grandiose goal, Galanos is reaching across the Green Line to
Turkish Cypriot counterpart "Mayor" Oktay Kayalp; the two
leaders, along with the United Nations, are planning a
high-visibility restoration of Famagusta's Venetian walls in
2008. Also consuming great chunks of Galanos's first six
months in office is his effort to raise awareness of his
"occupied" municipality. His staff have just concluded a
high-profile petition campaign that targeted diaspora
Famagustans, and he soon will take the signature book and his
"Free Varosha Now" message to Washington and other capitals.
On the broader Cyprus Problem, the slow pace of July 8
negotiations depressed the long-time politician. "Like a
cancer, the specter of permanent partition is growing," he
fretted. "We must take bold steps now." END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------------
"Exile" Mayors: Big Title, Small Job
-------------------------------------

2. (U) Nine pre-1974 municipalities lie in the area
administered by Turkish Cypriots, of which Famagusta is the
largest. For voting and other purposes, Greek Cypriots
residing in the RoC-controlled areas continue to identify
themselves as inhabitants of Famagusta, Kyrenia, and Morphou,
inter alia, and their heirs are entitled (actually,
encouraged) to do the same. In local elections, G/C voters
cast ballots both in their places of current residence and in
their birthplaces / historic homes. Most of the "occupied"
city halls are little more than strip-mall offices staffed by
mayors and a few councilmen (although they still collect
big-city checks.)

3. (U) Famagusta has always occupied a higher profile,
however. In 1984 it made the world stage when UN Security
Council Resolution 550 called for the transfer of the
fenced-off area of Varosha to UN administration. As befits a
city that was once Cyprus's wealthiest and second
most-populous, current Mayor Alexis Galanos is no political
lightweight, having served as president of the national
parliament in the early 1990s. Opposition DISY politicians
lured the former MP out of retirement in 2006 in a successful
quest to defeat the AKEL (far left) incumbent, Yiannakis
Skordis.

-------------------------
Let's Make Money Together
-------------------------

4. (SBU) Famagustans on both sides of the Green Line wanted
their city opened, Galanos told the Ambassador May 10.
Tearing down the fence around Varosha and allowing
resettlement by its original inhabitants would unleash
massive investments and create good jobs, mainly for needy
Turkish Cypriots. Such a project would prove that Greek and
Turkish Cypriots could work toward common goals and reap
shared benefits. A boom in inter-communal economic activity
might even follow. A realist, however, Galanos knew the
sides were far apart in their negotiating positions, and
negotiations were unlikely to tackle Varosha's final status
anytime soon.

-------------------------------------------
Pushing Discreetly on a Bi-communal Project
-------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) In the run-up to the December 2006 municipal
elections, Galanos privately had voiced his desires to
improve coordination with the Turkish Cypriot Famagusta
"municipality" and its head, "Mayor" Oktay Kayalp. It
appears he is honoring his promise. Galanos informed the
Ambassador that he, Kayalp, and UNFICYP head Michael Moller
had agreed recently to organize a seminar focusing on
conserving and renovating the Venetian-built walls that are
Famagusta's most-recognized landmark. As a gathering of
scientists, historians, and archaeologists, the event aimed
to be apolitical. Yet politics had a way of creeping into

NICOSIA 00000418 002 OF 002


every endeavor in Cyprus, Galanos chuckled. In fact, Foreign
Ministry fears of the bi-communal event somehow conferring an
element of recognition on the "Turkish Republic of Northern
Cyprus" had forced Galanos to abandon the idea of conducting
the seminar within city limits; instead, it would take place
at Ledra Palace, in the Buffer Zone. Galanos and his team
would endeavor to keep extremists from both communities from
hijacking the event, planned for early 2008.

----------------------------------
Church Officials Surprising Allies
----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Despite their reputation for espousing hard lines,
officials from the Church of Cyprus, led by the Bishop of
Kykkos, supported Galanos's initiative on Famagusta. Even
Archbishop Chrysostomos II was on board, Galanos claimed.
Another ally was in the wings, as the imminent Church re-org
had created a new bishopric for Famagusta. "You'll like the
new bishop," he insisted. (Note: Galanos is correct in his
assertion; the new Famagusta Metropolitan, Vassilios, is a
long-time Embassy contact.)

----------------------------
Petition Drive Exceeds Hopes
----------------------------

7. (U) Galanos segued into his other pet project, a petition
drive aimed at raising awareness of Famagusta's plight. A
successful internet, TV, and newspaper advertising effort had
resulted in municipal staff collecting 26,000 signatures.
"Only 20,000 voted in the last municipal elections," Galanos
asserted, his better results a testament to his team's hard
work and the seriousness with which Greek Cypriots viewed
Famagusta/Varosha. Most signers were former residents and
their children, but some were G/C youth who "self-identified"
with the "occupied" city.

8. (SBU) With signatures in hand, Galanos soon would begin
his roadshow, he informed the Ambassador. In September he
planned to visit the United States, where he would lobby for
the return of his city before USG officials, UN General
Assembly attendees, UN Secretariat staff, and members of the
powerful Greek-American community. He hoped the Embassy
might assist in organizing calls on State Department
officials. (Note: Local media May 15 reported that Galanos
was encountering difficulties convincing the responsible
Parliamentary committee to release funds for the foreign
travel. He has gone over the chairman's head, however, and
lobbying President Tassos Papadopoulos and Parliamentary
President Dimitris Christofias.)

----------------------------
Pessimistic Over Local Talks
----------------------------

9. (SBU) Galanos lamented that the communities'
representatives had made so little progress under the July 8
Framework for negotiations. Time worked against the
reunification of the island, a truth that both sides admitted
but did little about. The current electoral instability in
Turkey exacerbated an already bad situation, he added. "A
heroic effort on Cyprus is needed. We cannot give up."

--------
Comment:
--------

10. (SBU) We were frankly surprised by Galanos's
constructive stance toward Kayalp and the Turkish Cypriot
Famagusta "municipality." With tough talk dominating
discourse on both sides of the Green Line, to voice support
for bi-communal efforts, especially ones involving both
"governments," runs major risks. Like Nixon to China,
however, the one-time hard-liner Galanos -- he stridently
opposed the 2004 Annan Plan, and the pro-Annan DISY party
recruited him for Famagusta mainly because his past made him
more electable -- may believe his pedigree insulates him from
a political tar-and-feathering. We hope he's right, and that
he brings the seminar and other bi-communal projects to
fruition. End Comment.
SCHLICHER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Ramzy Baroud: Year in Review Will 2018 Usher in a New Palestinian Strategy

2017 will be remembered as the year that the so-called ‘peace process’, at least in its American formulation, has ended. And with its demise, a political framework that has served as the foundation for US foreign policy in the Middle East has also collapsed. More>>

ALSO:


North Korea: NZ Denounces Missile Test

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. The test, which took place this morning, is North Korea’s third test flight of an inter-continental ballistic missile. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike.

Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures.

Once upon a time, the Soviet Union was the nightmare threat for the entire Cold War era – and since then the US has cast the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State in the same demonic role. Iran is now the latest example…More


Catalan Independence:
Pro-independence parties appear to have a narrow majority. More>>