PHILIP CORDON'S ROCKY SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARING

Greek News
http://www.greeknewsonline.com/modules.php?na me=News&file=article&sid=10151
March 30 2009
NY

Washington, D.C.- Uncertainty reigns among members of the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations for the nomination of Philip Gordon
to be Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
after statements he had made during his hearing before the committee
when questioned by Senator Robert Menendez. More questions were
submitted to Gordon on Friday and if members find his explanations
unsatisfactory, his confirmation will be delayed and most likely he
wont be able to accompany the President to his first European trip.

On Wednesday Menendez held a private meeting with Gordon before the
hearing but the latter failed to persuade the Democrat New Jersey
senator that the views which he will furnish President Barack Obama
during his term in office will be impartial and not affected by the
his pro-Turkish views he had expressed during his career as academic
and analyst.

The US Senator negatively commented articles which Gordon had
written against the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the US,
his reaction when the Annan Plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriot
community in 2004 during a referendum as well as his views on the
role of Turkey.

During the hearing, Menendez called on Gordon to say whether he
agreed with the statement in Obama's pre-election campaign which
referred to a political settlement of the Cyprus issue which will
end the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and correct the tragic
division of the island.

Gordon replied that he agreed, however he claimed that the view
concerning occupation is expressed by the government of Cyprus and
some experts.

He went on to claim before the committee that there is a Turkish
presence in the northern part of Cyprus which is not accepted by the
government of Cyprus and it is an issue under negotiations which the US
support for a solution to the Cyprus issue, adding he has not changed
his views, even when indicated by Menendez that this was included in
Obama's declaration.

HEATED DIALOGUE

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Thank you Madame Chairman. I have a budget
vote that is taking place, so I'm going to hopefully be able to get my
questions in, but if not I may come back if there are still members,
and return. If not, I'll submit them for the record.

Mr. Gordon, I want to focus questions that -- we had an opportunity
to have a brief discussion, and I want to follow up. Let me read
this statement to you and ask you if you agree with it or not:
"A negotiated political settlement on Cyprus wound end the Turkish
occupation of northern Cyprus and repair the island's tragic division,
while paving the way to prosperity and peace throughout the entire
region." Is that something that you would agree with?

MR. GORDON: Yes, Senator, I would.

SEN. MENENDEZ: Okay. So, like the president of the United States, you
recognize that there is an occupation in the northern part of Cyprus.

MR. GORDON: There is a Turkish presence in the northern part of
Cyprus that is not accepted by the government of Cyprus and would
be the subject of the negotiations that we support to bring about a
Cyprus settlement.

SEN. MENENDEZ: But you don't consider it an occupation.

MR. GORDON: There are a number of outside experts in the government
of Cyprus who consider it an occupation.

SEN. MENENDEZ: The statement I read to you is from then-Senator
Obama as he was running for president of the United States. It was
his policy statement, and so it's not simply my view or the view of
others that it was a occupation, but it is his.

Let me ask you this. I read your articles with reference to the Annan
plan in which you criticized the Greek Cypriots who rejected it. That
plan included -- and did you read that plan?

MR. GORDON: I did.

SEN. MENENDEZ: Okay. I know you supported it, and you also read it,
right? So that plan included prohibiting Greek Cypriots from purchasing
property in a third of their own country, allowing the same number
of Greek Cypriots on the Cyprus Supreme Court as foreign citizens,
constitutionally establishing Turkish troops permanently on Cyprus,
and taking tens of thousands of Greek-Cypriot homes, and in essence,
giving them for free to those who at present are occupying them,
maybe with some compensation.

It took Americans two years to approve our four-page
Constitution. Cypriots were only given a few weeks to consider a
constitution and its attachments that numbered over 9,000 pages. So I
think one might see why a Western Democracy like Cyprus would reject
permanently structuring the future of their country in such a way
and in such a time frame.

So how do you view, in light of these and other facts -- there have
been 15 million crossings from one community to the other in recent
years without an incidence of violence -- how do you in light of these
facts, would you rethink your support of such settlement provisions
on Cyprus that produce such an unproductive vote, or are you wedded
to the views that you originally held?

MR. GORDON: Thank you Senator. As we discussed yesterday, I
acknowledged that I did support the Annan Plan at the time. I thought
it was better than the status quo. I thought it had enormous problems
because it's a terribly complicated situation, but I thought it was
better than the status quo because it was a settlement, because it
brought security to the island, because it recognized one Cyprus,
which is U.S. government policy, because it would lead to a significant
departure of Turkish military presence, and a territorial adjustment
that that would be in the interest of both sides.

I supported it like the United Nations, like the European Union
and like the Bush Administration, so that was my thinking, and we
discussed that a bit yesterday. But that is irrelevant because as
you say the plan was rejected. As you noted, it was rejected by a
democratic majority of Greek Cypriots in the Republic of Cyprus. And
they spoke, and democracy spoke, and the --

SEN. MENENDEZ: And I appreciate that. The question is: Those who are
trying to revive the Annan plan, and even though the two parties are
negotiating, and the reason I ask you these questions is because the
reason you get nominated for this position is your expertise, your
background, your knowledge, and the fact that the secretary of State,
and for that fact, the president of the United States, will ask you
what are your views.

And therefore you will have not an insignificant position by which to
fashion U.S. foreign policy, and that's what I'm concerned. I'm also
concerned when I read your comments with reference to the Armenian
Genocide. This is a quote from an article you wrote: As if tensions
with Turkey were not already strained enough by the Iraq world and the
Curtis issue, moves in the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize
a "Turkish Genocide" against Armenians in 1915 have stroke the sense
of crisis.

And, you know, I have a concern when there is a veto by a foreign
government over domestic policies and policies of the United States,
including the Congress of the United States. And I have a real concern
that those who would be in the position of authority would actually
seek to fashion that.

You know, that same record doesn't speak out about Turkey's legacy of
denial. The fact that it has a series of other issues that affects
its entrance into the European Union, with Cyprus being one. The
whole question of the (Ecumenical Patriarch ?) and a whole host of
others. So I'm concerned that at the end of the day that there will
be the appropriate balance here, if you were to be confirmed by the
senate. Can you speak to that for me?

And lastly, since I'm going to have to go for budget votes, and I'm
going to hang in here to listen to your answers as long as I can. In
the pursuit of complete transparencies, would you provide for us for
the record subsequent to this hearing, the list of countries that
will be under your jurisdiction. And would you also provide to us the
organizations that you have worked with prior to this nomination? And
what monies were received both those organizations from any foreign
government at the time that you were involved there?

MR. GORDON: Sure, I would be happy to do that. Very briefly based on
a number of very important issues that I know are important to you
and to this committee and to this administration. On the Annan plan
very briefly, my understanding is it's not on the table in terms of
the debate about whether we support it or not. My understanding is
that there is no such thing as an Annan plan any more.

What there is, very fortunately -- what there are, are negotiations
that are going on directly between the two parties. It's not the
U.N. writing a plan. It's not the United States writing a plan, but
the two parties on the island are negotiating, which is a very good
thing because I think like you Senator, I believe that a negotiated
settlement on Cyprus would be very much in the interest of the parties.

You quoted comments of mine on Armenia, and the suggested that these
congressional measures would provoke a nationalistic backlash in
Turkey, which analytically I think is accurate. And that's what I
was writing. I have been at a think tank for a number of years, and
that's what we do when we analyze. And I was making the analytical
statement that such a resolution would provoke a nationalistic backlash
in Turkey.

You suggested the need for balance, and I absolutely agree. And I
absolutely agree that the United States and Congress and citizens,
including in Turkey, need to recognize that a terrible tragedy took
place. That more than a million and a half people were driven from
their homes and massacred. And people need to recognize that in honor
of the victims of that strategy.

And that sort of balance, I think, is necessary as I say not only here,
but in Turkey. And you mentioned the debate within Turkey, and I think
if you've looked at my writings, you have seen that I've personally
long encouraged that. The United States government has encouraged
that. And if confirmed, I would also do so. I think there's been some
progress in that regard, including on this issue. But not enough,
and if confirmed, I would make it a priority of mission for you.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress