Tuesday, August 12, 2008

PSEKA- The International Coordinating Committee-Justice for Cyprus and the Cyprus MOU

James Cuno has written eloquently about how nationalism has infected approaches to cultural property issues, resulting in untenable decisions. It is starting to look like the July 2007 decision to impose import restrictions on coins of Cypriot type is just the latest such example. What makes it different, and perhaps even more troubling, however, is that our own State Department appears to have lost all pretense of detachment, and instead has become a joint venturer with Cypriot interests, including, but not limited to the efforts of Cyprus and CAARI to repatriate all unprovenanced "coins of Cypriot type."

At a minimum, the State Department is an accommodating host. In particular, some additional research on the Internet has disclosed that the State Department evidently scheduled the Cyprus MOU signing ceremony to coincide with a lobbying effort by Cypriot groups on Capitol Hill and in the State Department itself. See: http://news.pseka.net/index.php?module=article&id=7149, http://news.pseka.net/index.php?module=article&id=7162, and

According to the above "Justice for Cyprus" Press release, dated July 17, 2007:

A delegation from New York, New Jersey and Chicago will be visiting Capitol Hill and hold key briefings of both Republican and Democratic Freshmen members on the Cyprus issue, and the State Department, will be held July 18-19. Special attention will be given to the destruction of churches in the occupied areas.The meetings on July 18 and 19, will include a roundtable working lunch with over 25 key Senators and Members of Congress, including the Chairmen of the Committees and Subcommittees that formulate U.S. policy for the region, as well as briefings of both Republican and Democratic Freshmen members on the Cyprus issue. These leaders will also be attending a ceremony at the Department of State.

The State Department "ceremony" is not described specifically. However, it can only be the MOU signing ceremony that took place on July 19, 2007. The guest list for the event (produced in the FOIA litigation against State) apparenly lists members of the lobbying delegation, including several representatives of PSEKA. That Clay Constantinou, a former US Ambassador identified as representing CAARI, was also present suggests some similar involvement. Perhaps, a CAARI representative was also involved in this and in the earlier May lobbying effort when Burns received the Livanos award. Certainly, the words of CAARI's own president suggest as much. See Cyprus News Agency, “CAARI-30 Years Interview with Gustave Feissel” available online at: http://www.cna.org.cy/website/english/subject1.shtm#GF (“CAARI, according to Feissel, has been instrumental in the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cyprus and the US to restrict the import of Cypriot antiquities into the US, including for the first time ancient coins.”).

And what of "Justice for Cyprus/PSEKA," the group that evidently helped coordinate both the May and July 2007 events? It turns our that "Justice for Cyprus" is the entitiy that actually awarded Burns the "Livanos Award." See: http://www.state.gov/p/us/rm/2007/86284.htm and http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2008/08/nicholas-burns-philhellene-cultural.html

Signficantly, "Justice for Cyprus" appears to have at least a semi-official link with the Greek Cypriot Government:

The International Coordinating Committee "Justice for Cyprus", also known as PSEKA, was founded in 1975 by the late President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios. The organizatio, with headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus, has chapters all over the world. Its North American headquarters are located in New York City. Today PSEKA is staffed by professionals and volunteers working together in cities all over the United States and Canada. Over the last 2 years, PSEKA and its Board of Directors has begun a push via the Internet, to raise awareness over the plight of the people of Cyprus.

See: http://news.pseka.net/index.php?module=about

So let's try to connect the dots. As described in a prior post, CAARI works behind the scenes with State Department staff to get coins included in the renewal even before Cyprus makes a formal request. See: http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/search/label/CAARI

After that effort fails when CPAC declines to recommend extending import restrictions to coins of Cypriot type, enter PSEKA. "Justice for Cyprus/PSEKA" then helps CAARI and the Cypriot embassy to change existing precedent by lobbying Undersecretary Burns directly, including by providing him with the Livanos award. See http://news.pseka.net/uploads/img/documents/PSEKA-SAE_2007_Conference_EN_01_CEH_01.pdf Just days later, Dina Powell, the decision maker (and a subordinate of Burns) is given a "false choice" whether to include coins in the MOU or let the current MOU expire in its entirety.

Then, close the circle at the Cyprus MOU signing ceremony which is in itself folded into a larger lobbying effort on behalf of Cyprus directed largely at Turkey.

While one must admit that all this is based on an educated guess, it would seem to be a probable scenario, and one that would certainly explain the State Department's persistent stonewalling in the pending FOIA litigation.

If State has nothing to hide, why not just produce all relevant documents?

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

Here is the biography of Former Ambassador Constantinou from the CAARI website:

Clay Constantinou is an Attorney at Law and international consultant. He served as the United States Ambassador to Luxembourg from 1994 to 1999. Following his appointment to Luxembourg, he served for six years as the founding Dean of the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University. Prior to his diplomatic service, Ambassador Constantinou practiced law in New Jersey. He has been active in national politics, spearheading the New Jersey Presidential campaigns of Governor Michael Dukakis, Governor Bill Clinton and Senator John Kerry. Ambassador Constantinou has earned an LL.M from NYU Graduate School of Law, a JD from Seton Hall University School of Law and a B.A. New Jersey City University. He was born in New York and resides in New Jersey with his wife and their two children.

See: http://www.caari.org/Trustees.htm