• Δευτέρα 27 Ιουνίου 2022

Articles in English

Black Dollars or Black Propaganda?

On the eve of the start of direct negotiations on 3 September, the pro-Tassos Papadopoulos camp is striving to revive the "Ambient Atmosphere" period of 2004.  Last Sunday  the Athens newspaper Ethnos carried a front-page report titled "The Black Dollars for a YES to the Annan Plan" and O Fileleftheros in Nicosia printed an identical item, both carrying the signature of their Washington-based correspondent Michalis Ignatiou, according to which the "United States set up a mechanism for uncontrolled funding through the United Nations."

 

These "revelations" that all television channels, led by state-owned CyBC, adopted as a fact, are based on a telegram-letter sent by US Ambassador in Nicosia Kenneth Brill that dealt with the issue of US aid for Cyprus.  The document is dated 28 March 1997.

 

Using this document and the accompanying Ignatiou' report, O Fileleftheros throughout last week launched a continuous attack against all those who had supported the 2004 initiative as well as against those who believe that the allegations concerning the payment of "bribes" with the view of supporting the Annan Plan are nothing more than a conspiracy theory.  Aristos Michaelides, O Fileleftheros' editor, described Annan supporters as more contemptible than Athens whores during the German occupation of Greece, while Y. Sertis, one of the newspaper's contributors, wrote that "their principles flex depending on their monetary or . . . homosexual addictions!"

 

All the above aphorisms are based on a distortion of facts and evidence and rely on a document whose complete text is printed in O Fileleftheros.  This is a telegram sent by Brill to his country's permanent delegation at the United Nations.

 

However, let us first put things in order.

 

Aid After 1974

 

Since 1974, the US government has been giving Cyprus an annual aid of 15 million dollars.  Five million dollars were in given as scholarships under the Fulbright program and the remaining 10 million dollars as humanitarian aid or for the financing of development projects.  Between 1794 and 2008, a total of one billion dollars had been given, used mainly in development projects such as the construction of refugee housing estates, hospitals (among them the Makareion Hospital in Nicosia and the hospitals in Larnaca and Paphos), the first phase of the Nicosia Sewerage Project, and many more.

 

Between 1974 and 1997 the US aid was given through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, known as the UNHCR.

 

As Brill mentions in his letter, "for political reasons exclusively concerning Cyprus, the Bicommunal Aid Program cannot function outside the UN umbrella."

 

The political reasons invoked by the ambassador included the problem of mutual recognition between the government of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot authorities.  This did not allow the distribution of aid through the government of Cyprus, since part of it was destined for the Turkish Cypriots.

 

In 1997 the UNHCR decided to end its operations in Cyprus, since the island was by then affluent and there were other priorities on the planet.  Moreover, the nature of the aid for Cyprus (infrastructure projects) was outside the scope of UNHCR activities.

 

As the US Ambassador in Nicosia stated in his telegram, "by citing (as an excuse) the global reduction of sources of funding, the streamlining of its operations and the lack of expertise regarding development issues, the UNHCR decided to end its management and implementation of the US aid program by the end of 1997."

 

Lobby in Support of the Aid

 

Because of the UNHCR's departure, there was a danger that US aid for Cyprus would be terminated.  In addition, the US Congress expressed reservations in approving economic aid for Cyprus due to the island's high standard of living.

 

The government of Cyprus exercised all its influence for the aid to continue.  According to a briefing given to the parliamentary Audit Committee on 6 October 2006 by our long-serving Ambassadress in Washington Erato Kozakou-Markoulli, "each year strenuous efforts were made by the embassy to persuade Congress not to terminate the approval of the 15-million-dollar aid for Cyprus."

 

Moreover, former Foreign Ministry Director General Andreas Pirishis reported that the Cypriot government had increased the fees it paid to a public relations firm in Washington because of the provision of additional services to the Republic of Cyprus.  "Among the services we were requesting from them was to lobby Congress in order to secure the approval of the aid package for Cyprus."  In other words, Cyprus was giving money in order to persuade US Senators to secure Congressional approval for the continuation of American aid!

 

We Wanted them to be Bicommunal

 

The United States were interested in the Cyprus issue because the failure to find a solution was poisoning relations between Greece and Turkey as well as NATO's cohesion.   As Kenneth Brill underlined in his letter, "The Bicommunal Aid Program represents a major tool for the exercise of policy in our common effort to promote a bicommunal understanding and to reach a political arrangement."

 

The government of Cyprus could, if it wanted, refuse any aid or involvement by the United States.  Not only did it fail to do so but it did everything possible in its power for the aid to continue.  In fact, the bicommunal nature of US aid was the decision of the Cypriot governments.

 

Erato Kozakou-Markoulli, in her capacity as director general of the foreign ministry, on 6 October 2006 told parliament the following with regard to the American aid:  "Considerable efforts were made to continue with the same wording used for the approval of the aid package.  This wording specified that the funds should be used in order to promote a resolution of the Cyprus issue, the reunification of the country, and the funding of bicommunal programs and bicommunal contacts."

 

From the UNHCR to the UNDP

 

In 1997, when the UNHCR was about to leave Cyprus, the US government, under pressure from Nicosia as well, searched for a new body to be used for the channeling of economic aid to Cyprus.

 

As Kenneth Brill noted in his telegram:  "In order to continue with the Bicommunal Aid Program (for Cyprus), which enjoys strong support by Congress, we approached Gustav Feysel, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Cyprus, to decide whether he would be in favor of transferring from the UNHCR to the Good Services Mission (of the UN Secretary General) responsibility for implementation (of the Bicommunal Aid Program)."

 

In other words, according to the document published by O Fileleftheros, the management of the aid would leave the UNHCR, a UN service, and transferred to the UN Secretary General's Good Offices Mission in Cyprus, which is another UN service.

 

O Fileleftheros, by distorting even the document it had itself published, created a conspiratorial scenario based on a lie:  that the aid, without the knowledge of the Cypriot government, was taken away from the Republic of Cyprus and handed to the United Nations.  The reality is that the aid was never given directly to the government of Cyprus.

 

On the basis of this distortion, Michalis Ignatiou has drawn some unrealistic conclusions:

 

"The inclusion of the program under the UN umbrella is an indication that Washington is primarily interested in laundering through the international organization any economic assistance it will be granting to Cyprus."  By citing an anonymous state official, Ignatiou puts forward the following reasoning:  "If everything was so innocent, there would be no reason to bypass the official and legal government of the island."

 

There has never been any bypassing of the government of Cyprus nor has there ever being any protest by Nicosia.  On the contrary, according to Mrs Markoulli, who was the ambassador of Cyprus to Washington during the period that this monstrous conspiracy against Cyprus was being . . . hatched, "strenuous efforts were made" for the continuation of the funding.

 

According to Ignatiou's theory, the government of Cyprus is the sole example of a state in the whole world that lobbied for the United States to undermine it! 

 

Outrageous Charges Against the UN

 

Without a shred of evidence, the whole of the O Fileleftheros staff (Michaelides, Ignatiou, Venizelos, Sertis) are persisting with the outrageous allegation that in 1998 US aid was transferred to the UN as a means of bypassing the government of Cyprus and that the United Nations joined in a conspiracy to bribe the conscience of Cypriots.  As the newspaper's editor writes: 

 

"The American embassy took the decision regarding who was to receive the funds and the head of the UN Secretary General's Office of Good Services subsequently distributed them to the natives as humanitarian aid for their bicommunal programs," as if he is not referring to the largest international organization but to the Russian mafia or to Colombia's cocaine cartel.  This is the first time in the history of the UN that this international organization has been accused of conspiring against one of its member-states.

 

Ignatiou has described the UN's role in the distribution of US aid for Cyprus as "money laundering!"  In spite the fact that all the financial details of the aid are posted on the internet, Ignatiou states that there is a "confidential catalogue" of persons who received financial assistance in a kind of conspiracy against Cyprus and criticizes the UN Secretary General because "he is still sheltering USAID" and refuses to make the catalogue public.

 

Moreover, editor-in-chief Kostas Venizelos writes that this story will close "only if the catalogue of those receiving the funds is made public.  This is a United Nations responsibility since they were the ones who accepted, after a US proposition, to act as a mechanism for the distribution of (US) funds, bypassing, for obvious reasons, the Republic of Cyprus."

 

This catalogue has been published since 2005 and the UN has supplied details of the expenditure, up to the last cent.  The issue is whether one wants to read this catalogue . . .

 

 

O Fileleftheros Also Took Its Share from USAID

 

All programs funded after 1998 are posted on the internet at http://mirror.undp.org/cyprus/projects/sectorssubsector.pdf and all of them have been approved by a special steering committee whose members were the US Embassy in Nicosia, the United Nations, and a representative of the President of Cyprus.  According to a briefing given to the parliament on 6 October 2006 by Planning Bureau representative Ninos Savvides, "since 1974 the delegate on the Steering Committee was Stella Souliotou, as the representative of the President of Cyprus!"  Also according to the same state official, the Planning Bureau took an active role "as Mrs Souliotou's secretariat."

 

Based on the available evidence, which can be accessed on the Internet by every interested party, 60.4 million [dollars] were given as aid between 1998 and 2004 for infrastructure projects, state services, municipalities, etc.  A mere 6.4 million [dollars] were given to Non Governmental Organizations on both sides.  These programs, which are also posted on the internet, were not even of a political nature (AIDS, cancer, patients' rights, etc).

 

A small part of the US aid was used for the preparation of the offices used for the 2004 negotiations, translations, and the presentation of the Annan Plan. (The total amount involved was approximately 600,000 dollars).  All expenditure, up to the last cent, regarding the Annan Plan is posted on the Internet at the address http://mirror.undp.org/cyprus/projects/annan.pdf.  From this amount O Fileleftheros also took its small share for printing a summary of the Annan Plan.


Makarios Drousiotis - Politis

10/08/2008