OPINION

Using US pressure

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been traveling to various capitals to discuss key international issues but it is Washington that has the final say on them. Annan has been talking about a solution to the Cyprus problem; he has visited Ankara, Athens and Nicosia, submitted blueprints and listened to the views of political leaders. Much as the mobility of the secretary-general has been promoted and covered, everyone still knows that there will be no genuine progress on this issue unless the USA exerts pressure on the interested parties. The manner and timing of this pressure depends primarily on the interests of Washington, the power-holder. Therefore, today, when the Cyprus issue is at a critical phase, America plays a pivotal role in the matter. In his talks with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Athens, Annan could, at best, strike one as a diplomatic messenger. Moreover, in his telephone conversation with US President George W. Bush on Tuesday, Simitis asked him to pressure the Turkish side for a positive outcome on the basis of the US and British-brokered UN plan. Much is being said and written these days about the Cyprus dispute. And though the interested parties have thoroughly studied the issue and the various technical details, the problem is still open at a political level. The main reason for this is Ankara, as its direct involvement in the Iraq crisis gives it an edge over Athens and Nicosia in manipulating US pressure on the Cyprus issue. Of course, Turkey’s military bureaucracy sees no reason why it should change its strategy in the eastern Mediterranean. The Iraq crisis could prompt many unexpected developments. The Cyprus issue is part of a broader geostrategic landscape where Turkey holds a crucial position. Washington will be the first to evaluate and exploit this position.