Who needs the truth when you can make things up?
The truth behind the ‘Fried statements’
DOZENS OF articles have been printed in both the Cypriot and the Greek press about a statement allegedly made by Daniel Fried, US Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
Fried was appointed to his present position on May 5, 2005 having previously served as Senior Director for European and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council since January 22, 2001.
In the above statement, he is reported to have admitted that the US administration handed Cyprus to Turkey, through the Annan Plan, as a reward for the latter’s provision of facilities to the United States for the war in Iraq.
This “admission” is cited ad nauseam by Lazaros Mavros on his Radio Proto morning show and by Savvas Iacovides in his Simerini newspaper column, as if Fried spoke in public and had been heard by the whole world.
During his frequent appearances in TV studio discussions, Giorgos Lillikas, the co-ordinator of Tassos Papadopoulos’ election campaign, regularly refers to this “admission” and none of his fellow-panellists dare dispute its authenticity.
We have examined the origin of this information and we are able to verify that the statement in question was never made.
The story of Fried’s so-called admission is the Goebbels-type propaganda which a section of our political establishment practises with great skill. It confirms the theory that, when a lie is repeated often enough, it is certain to be believed.
Untangling the web
The myth about Fried’s “admission” began with an article written by Professor Christos Yiannaras on the 2005 anniversary of the referendum on the Annan Plan. (Kathimerini, June 5, 2005, “An Anniversary that is Decisive for Political Statures”). In his article, Yiannaras wrote about the “Annan fraud” and recoiled at the thought that the “propagandists” of the plan had never apologised for voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum although, he believed, they “should be reported to the criminal prosecutor and treated with public contempt”.
Supporters of the plan were guilty of high treason and of participating in the “Annan fraud," he maintained and to strengthen his case wrote:
“A shocking statement by Daniel Fried, US Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, has now been revealed. The statement, which was made on June 26, 2003, was the following: 'When we were trying to persuade Turkey to allow the passage of our troops through its territory into northern Iraq, we offered Turkey three incentives: several billion dollars in loans and grants; the start of negotiations for its accession to the European Union; and Cyprus in the form of the Annan Plan’.”
Yiannis Yiannousopoulos, a Professor at the Panteion University in Athens, challenged Yiannaras to say where “this evidently fabricated, statement was published”.
Yiannaras’ response was that his source was “a study by Marios Evriviades, an Assistant Professor at the Panteion University titled Cyprus and Security in the Eastern Mediterranean”.
The said study was printed in the April 2005 issue of the magazine Ethnikes Epalxeis (National Ramparts). Evriviades' source was Aris Anagnos, an active member of the Greek-American lobby in California who mentioned the Fried ‘statement’ in an article published on the website of the American Hellenic Council in California.
In this article, written after the 2004 referendum, Anagnos lists 12 reasons why the Annan Plan was rejected by the Cypriots. Almost all his conclusions are based on patently inaccurate evidence, but this is not the issue.
What is of interest is his final conclusion: “Cyprus (after its accession to the EU) is in a very powerful position and could exercise its right of veto against Turkey's accession, unless the Turkish troops are first withdrawn. This is the solution.”
Anagnos claims in his article that Daniel Fried, speaking to a group of Greek Americans on June 26, 2003, stated: “When we were trying to persuade Turkey to allow the passage of our troops through its territory into northern Iraq, we offered Turkey two incentives: several billion dollars in loans and grants and Cyprus in the form of the Annan plan.”
On May 31, 2004, Anagnos addressed a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telling her that the Annan plan was primarily geared at placating Turkey and giving it an inducement to assist in the invasion of Iraq by allowing passage of US troops through its territory. He added: “Mr. Daniel Fried said as much on June 26, 2003 to a group of Greek Americans.” (http://www.americanhellenic.org)
The facts do not fit
Neither in his article nor in his letter to Condi Rice did Anagnos think it necessary to substantiate his claim. He merely restricted himself to hearsay, attributing to Daniel Fried what he had supposedly heard. He even put Fried’s words in inverted commas. This claim was not consistent with the facts.
1. The Annan Plan began to be drafted in 2000 and was submitted in November 2002, before the US decision to invade Iraq had been taken. In the meantime, Turkey had rejected the plan in Copenhagen (December 2002).
2. By the middle of March, when intensive bargaining was taking place between the US and Turkey, Turkey had already rejected Annan Plan 3 at The Hague meeting. Thus, it was extremely unlikely that as an inducement Ankara was offered a plan that it considered unacceptable and had rejected twice.
3. Is it remotely possible for a top member of the US administration to tell officials of the Greek American lobby that Washington had offered Cyprus to Turkey, even this were the case?
4. This alleged statement has never been confirmed by a single member of the group reported to have met with Fried. In his own letters, Anagnos does not even include himself among those present at the meeting. He merely makes a general and vague reference to this information.
5. For a whole year nothing was written or said about this outrageous statement and it was only after the Annan plan was rejected at the referendum that Anagnos decided it was worth a mention.
On June 13, 2005, after a question regarding the claim in Yiannaras’ article, Daniel Fried's spokesman stressed that on several occasions he had already denied making the statement. He referred to a reply to a similar question given by the State Department’s spokesman Richard Boucher on May 26, 2004. The question to Boucher was put by Greek journalist Lambros Papantoniou.
With the US administration having flatly denied the comment had been made, the people who were citing Fried’s alleged admission had to find some way of substantiating their claim. They did not make a very good job of it.
Since 2004, when Aris Anagnos first made the revelation, he did not offer any form of documentation. He did not mention the identity of a single person who was at this infamous meeting nor where it had taken place. Moreover, he never even said he was present.
No other official of the Greek American lobby has ever confirmed that the meeting with Fried had ever taken place or that such an admission was made. Marios Evriviades had written that Aris Anagnos was present and taking notes. The latter, however, never made such a claim.
Three years after the Fried “admission” was reported and four years after the alleged meeting with a group of Greek Americans, Michalis Ignatiou wrote in the Athens paper, Ethnos on July 6, 2007, that the statement had been recorded. Nobody has ever heard the recording Ignatiou mentions.
In another of his articles, Ignatiou claims to have been present at the event. Referring to Daniel Fried, he wrote: “I remember that during a hermetically sealed meeting of the Greek Lobby he did not hesitate to admit that the Annan plan was a move to appease Turkey." (Phileleftheros, June 27, 2007).
Some 10 days later, Ignatiou excluded himself from the meeting and wrote that “three of those present at the closed and top secret meeting” had told Ethnos (four years after the event had actually taken place) “that Fried admitted that the UN Secretary General's peace plan was very close to Turkey's positions.”
Despite this, he did not name the source that had confirmed that the “top secret meeting” had taken place, while the words he attributed to Fried were different from those reported by Aris Anagnos.
The dissemination of a forged statement
The Fried “statement”, which no source has ever verified, can only be fictitious, yet it spread in record time as a fact. In Phileleftheros article on September 12, 2004, Takis Konnafis declared with absolute certainty: “The revelation of the above statement can no longer be described as ... anti-American propaganda or a question of bad judgment.”
Although the Fried “statement” consists of one sentence, its text is never the same – even though the people citing it invariably put it in inverted commas.
Writing in Phileleftheros on July 12, 2007, Anthos Lykavgis stated that Fried said that the Annan plan “delivered Cyprus to Turkey”.
Writing in the same newspaper on July 1, 2007, Giorgos Sertis gave a different version, saying Fried's words were: “The Annan plan was a gift by the United States to Turkey.”
Christos Yiannaras added Turkey's accession to the EU as another inducement that the US had given – an inducement which was not mentioned in Evriviades’ study that was supposed to have been his source.
More confusion surrounds the actual meeting at which the statement was made. According to Ignatiou, writing in Ethnos (July 7, 2007), the meeting with officials of the Greek American lobby was private and top secret.
The Cyprus Weekly, (August 27, 2004), wrote that the meeting was public. Two months later (October 28, 2004), in the same paper, Alex Efthyvoulos wrote that Fried “told reporters in Washington”.
Vias Livadas in Simerini (August 27, 2007) wrote that Fried made the statement to Ethnos.
It does not end there. DIKO deputy Zacharias Koulias claimed that Fried made his “admission” while addressing the US Congress.