• Δευτέρα 27 Ιουνίου 2022

Articles in English

The “guilty silence” about the CIA funds

Two years ago, President Tassos Papadopoulos formulated his, by now notorious, theory of the "ambient atmosphere" and accused persons and organizations in Cyprus of receiving bribes from the United States in order to support the Annan Plan.  Investigations have proved that the charges were completely groundless and were based on a distorted interpretation on the report prepared by Nathan Associates, a company retained by the US Government with the task of assessing the financial help granted to Cyprus by the United States.

 

In October 2004, a sick climate prevailed in Cyprus with all television channels and the pro-government press participating in a ruthless witch-hunt. Statements issued by the President personally and his political allies fuelled the campaign.

 

At the time, the United States reacted discreetly and, according to reliable information secured by Politis, the then US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson gave the following message to President Papadopoulos:

  • An intense anti-American feeling has been created in Cyprus, which is personally nurtured by President Papadopoulos for domestic reasons.
  • The information published and reproduced by Papadopoulos himself is completely groundless.
  • The United States will not tolerate the continuation of this government-sponsored campaign.
  • If the President insists in persisting with this campaign, then the United States will be forced to release evidence showing the amount of money that the Cyprus Government is collecting from the CIA for the operation of the FBIS radio station in the Makedonitissa area and, in particular, "who is receiving the money and how it is spent."

The confirmation

 

Immediately after Politis received the above information, we carried out an in-depth investigation of the matter, which reached two conclusions:

  • After the US intervention, the government, and President Papadopoulos personally did not repeat any of the allegations made in October 2004.  The issue continues to be raised by other marginal forces supporting his policies, such as the EVROKO [European Party].
  • Not one cent paid by the CIA for the operation of the FBIS station finds its way into the state budget.  This means that either the government is paid nothing or that the money is paid "black," in other words under the table, and the government is spending it outside normal procedures and at its own discretion.

The Politis first covered this issue last May.  The government responded through then Government Spokesman George Lillikas by claiming a conspiracy.  On the essence of the issue, however, its response was half hearted.  According to Lillikas, no records exist for the past years.  According to him, between 1997 and 2002 there is a gap, because the United States unilaterally abrogated the agreement and refused to pay.  After 2002, according to the government spokesman, a new agreement was signed and everything is now clean and legitimate.

 

A few days later, the government "made a mistake" and released an internal memo prepared by the accountant general, which dealt with the income received from US contributions.  After investigating the matter further, we established that Lillikas had misled public opinion.  The 2002 agreement did not concern the FBIS radio station but the installation of a Voice of America transmitter at Cape Greco.  Therefore, the question remaining is: Where does the money received by the government from the CIA for the FBIS operation go?

 

"I do not know, I do not answer"

 

On 23 May 2006, we submitted a questionnaire to Government Spokesman George Lillikas but, in contravention of the constitution, he refused to reply.  (The questionnaire is printed in full at the end of this article.)  On 15 September 2006, we sent a reminder by double registered letter, which was received by Lillikas who had by now become foreign minister and the person responsible for the facilities granted to the United States.  So far, the government has refused to reply.

 

However, when a similar issue was raised last month following the revelations of the Pakistani president that the CIA gave millions of dollars to his country's government in return for surrendering Al Qaida members, the CIA refused to reveal the amount paid.  A top CIA official stated that "our relations with foreign leaders is not something that we intend to talk about, nor is it something that we expect foreign leaders to mention."

 

This comment by the CIA could perhaps offer an insight into the government's inability to respond to our questionnaire.  Moreover, the fact that it refuses to respond is an indirect confirmation that it is on the receiving end of black CIA money, paid outside the state budget in contravention of the constitution, and using them in a manner lacking transparency and for purposes that are not clear.

 

 

 

Six hot questions to Y. Lillikas

 

Dear Mr Lillikas,

 

I refer to the recent publications of "Politis" newspaper concerning the operation of the FBIS US radio station in Cyprus (7 May 2006: "Black funds from the CIA," 14 May 2006: "A black hole absorbs the CIA funds," and 21 May 2006: "Keeping quiet about the CIA funds.)  I would kindly request you, within the performance of your duties, to respond to the following questions:

  • In a statement you made to journalists on 8 May 2006, your exact words were:  "There is a gap from 1997 until 2002, following the unilateral abrogation of the agreement by the United States" and because of the above gap "there do not appear to be any commitments on behalf of the United States."  Does the present Government of Cyprus accept this unilateral abrogation by the United States and is not demanding the payment of any compensation?"
  • In the same statement, you referred to "another agreement signed in 2002, which is valid until 2010."  You were clearly referring to the FBIS radio station.  The accountant general's memorandum, dated 9 May 2006 and titled "United States Radio Facilities in Cyprus," which you took steps to have it published, lists all the income accruing to the state in return for the facilities offered to the United States regarding the operation of the FBIS.  The memorandum contains an amount of 1,213,000 Cyprus pounds as income from the 2002-2010 agreement to which you referred on 8 May.  We have carried out an investigation of this and we have confirmed that the above agreement does not concern the FBIS radio station but the "Voice of America" relay station at Cape Greco.  Taking the above into consideration, as well as the contents of the accountant general's memorandum, we have been able to confirm that not even one cent has been paid to the state - from 1997 until today - with regard to the operation of the FBIS radio station.  Would you please clarify the following:

1. Is there or is there not an agreement between Cyprus and the United States regarding the FBIS?

2. If an agreement does exist, what is the reason that the income from this agreement is not paid into the state income account, something that contravenes the provisions of the Cyprus Constitution?  Who receives this money and under what procedures?

3.  If there is no agreement, according to your own statement, this is because the United States unilaterally abrogated it in 1997.  Why, then, did you make a statement referring to a new agreement covering the period between 2002 and 2010?

4. Does the government accept the validity of the unilateral abrogation of the agreement by the United States (if there was such an abrogation) and continues to offer the United States all possible facilities?

5. If the United States is paying half a million dollars per year for a "Voice of America" relay station, why should it not be paying for the right to operate the considerably more important FBIS radio station?

6.  Since it is a fact that the Government of Cyprus is displeased by US policy on the Cyprus issue, a feeling that is frequently expressed by President Papadopoulos, is it reasonable for the government to offer free services to the United States and, in particular, to a service such as the CIA?

 

Under your government's transparency policy, I expect that you would respond with clarity to all my questions.


Makarios Drousiotis - Politis

08/10/2006