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Reply of Georgia Stavropoulos 02/12/07

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Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC)

A Non-Profit Organization Registered in the US
Representing 35,000 Hellenes and
36 Hellenic associations in the US and abroad

February 12, 2006

Ms. Keith (1/07/2007) errs in dismissing the facts regarding Cyprus. One cannot ignore that the status quo stems from continued occupation by 40,000 Turkish troops situated to facilitate future opportunistic action against Greek Cypriots and the presence of some 150,000 Turkish colonists imported to alter the demographics, and results from over 30 years of Turkish and Turkish Cypriot intransigence.

Composition of the student body of universities in occupied Cyprus is telling: the vast majority of students, over 90%, are there in violation of Article 48 of the Geneva Convention (to which the US is a signatory). Some 27,000 students come from Turkey, while 3,500 are offspring of Turkish colonists, and 7,000 are foreigners mostly transported there through Turkey. Those being educated at EMU, which she hails as the solution to the problem, bear no relevance to her argument as Turkish Cypriots and the offspring of illegal colonists comprise little more than 10% of the student body, indicating the glaring fallacy that SDSU is "educating the Turkish Cypriots."

While Ms. Keith's idealistic conclusion that "the current status quo is ineffective and [that] fresh approaches are needed," provides a nice sound bite, it is devoid of meaning. Indeed fresh approaches may be needed, but we hold firm: our public universities have no right to forge or implement foreign policy and should refrain from abetting occupation regimes.


Georgia Stavropoulos, M.A., M. Phil

CA Representative of Hellenic Electronic Center

Los Angeles

Jacqueline Keith's letter:

CSU's Cyprus program achieved its goal

As a student who attended the California State University Cyprus program, I would like to issue a response to the letter sent by Georgia Stavropoulos (“CSU should reconsider Cyprus program,” Jan. 2). Instead of spouting an extensive list of facts and statistics on the Cyprus issue, I highly suggest you look at the real issue at hand – the lives of people on both sides of the buffer zone are being negatively affected, and the only hope we have to alleviate the situation is education.

By limiting this ability and implying that we are supporting the government of Turkey is both an inflammatory and incorrect statement. That border is open for anyone to cross – American, European, Greek and Turkish Cypriot.

It should be apparent that the current status quo is ineffective, and fresh approaches are needed if there is ever any hope of reuniting Cyprus as was the consensus of those of us who attended. It was not, as you speculated, that “might is right.” All in all, the program achieved its goal – it provided us with real-world education of which I am enormously thankful.


CSU should reconsider Cyprus program

As California representative for the Hellenic Electronic Center, I find “SDSU Cyprus program draws fire” (Local, Dec. 18) disregards that the Cyprus Republic is the island's only internationally recognized legitimate government. The exchange takes place in the area under occupation by 40,000 Turkish troops, where title to 90 percent of the property is still held by the 200,000 expelled Greek Cypriots. Program participants violate the legitimate owners' rights and the laws of Cyprus, risking criminal charges punishable by up to two years' imprisonment and a fine of up to 5,000 Cypriot pounds (nearly $11,400), enforceable here.

Program opponents, including California Sen. Barbara Boxer and others, call for its suspension because it lends legitimacy to an illegal occupation “government,” one unequivocally condemned by the entire world except Turkey. The exchange program violates U.N. resolutions 541 and 550, which call on members “not to facilitate or in any way assist the aforesaid secessionist entity.”

With ethnic cleansing of occupied Cyprus nearly complete, including destruction of more than 500 Christian churches and monasteries, and illegal colonization by 150,000 mainland Turks who outnumber Turkish Cypriots 2 to 1, the occupiers stand in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, of which the United States is signatory. State Department endorsement cannot extend to conducting the exchange program on disputed soil, or to attempts to legitimize the occupying regime. Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried unambiguously states: “We do not and will not recognize any government other than the Republic of Cyprus on the island of Cyprus.”

Far from promoting a solution, SDSU's program encourages Turkish Cypriot intransigence at the negotiating table, while conveying to impressionable students that “might makes right.” It is time for the California State University system to restore its integrity and suspend the program with Eastern Mediterranean University.

Of course, CSU could relocate the program to a university accredited by the Cyprus Ministry of Education. Thus, students and their families would not be put in the unfortunate position of having to violate the laws of a sovereign nation.


Los Angeles







CSU trustees OK study-abroad policy

Trustees from the California State University system have approved a study-abroad policy that allows a controversial program at SDSU to continue.
The university's students pursuing degrees in international conflict resolution spent their summer studying in the Turkish area of the primarily Greek island of Cyprus.

Last fall, a contingent of protesters, including many from the Greek-American community, criticized the CSU for sending students there because of political fallout between the Greeks and Turks.

The issue pitted the ideal of academic freedom against sensitive geopolitical balance: If universities are barred from scholarship because of politics, how will the world's knowledge advance?

Last week none of the passions that dominated the past two debates on the subject surfaced, and both sides said they were pleased.

“Academic freedom won,” said Professor Halil Guven, president of the Eastern Mediterranean University, which hosts the SDSU program in Cyprus. Next summer, he expects Cal State Long Beach to participate also.


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