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AHI Opposed to Passage of Legislation Authorizing Transfer of Naval Vessels to Turkey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Georgea Polizos
January 2, 2013—No. 1 (202) 785-8430

AHI Opposed to Passage of Legislation Authorizing Transfer of Naval Vessels to Turkey

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) is strongly opposed to the passage of H.R.6649, Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2012 in the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote on December 31, 2012. The legislation includes a provision authorizing the transfer of two naval vessels (guided missile frigates) to Turkey.

As a result of the bill's passage, AHI President Nick Larigakis has issued the following statement:

"The American Hellenic Institute is strongly opposed to legislation that passed in the final hours of the 112th Congress to authorize the transfer of two naval vessels, guided missile frigates, to Turkey.

"We disagree with the rationales presented in favor of the legislation by Foreign Affairs Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, which included anti-piracy efforts in Somalia and to level the balance of power in the region, citing the transfer of three Osprey naval vessels to Greece in 2010.

"The frigates that will be transferred free of charge to Turkey can only serve but one purpose as they have in the past: to cause provocation in the eastern Mediterranean against U.S. allies Greece, Cyprus and Israel. Turkey routinely violates Greece's sovereignty in the Aegean Sea and maintains a policy of casus belli toward Greece, threatening the latter with war should Greece exercise its right to expand its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles; Turkey has illegally occupied the Republic of Cyprus, a European Union nation, with 43,000 of its troops since 1974; and Turkey threatens Cyprus and Israel as they explore for hydrocarbon reserves within their exclusive economic zones as is their sovereign right to do with the help of a U.S.-based energy firm.

"In addition, although Chairman Ros-Lehtinen clearly stated current Turkish foreign policy is 'unacceptable' with regard to all of these issues in her debate remarks, in championing this legislation, she unfortunately ignored her own previous statement of September 2011 where she described Turkey's increased military presence as 'a clear threat' to U.S. citizens and interests in the region.

"Finally, we endorse the statements offered during debate on the House floor which were in opposition to the bill by Congressmen Eliot Engel, who will become the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the 113th Congress; Brad Sherman, Gus Bilirakis and John Sarbanes. We thank them for standing up for the rule of law."

On December 19, 2012 AHI sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and Ranking Member Howard Berman, the sponsors of bill, expressing its opposition to it.

In the letter, President Larigakis wrote: "Our opposition is rooted in a fundamental adherence to the rule of law, which Turkey continues to violate on several fronts. This is not a proper time to authorize a transfer of naval frigates to Turkey because of the confrontational behavior it has openly displayed toward U.S. allies which are not in the best interest of the United States and are in violation of the rule of law."

The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.

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For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.