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AHI Calls for U.S. Warning to Turkey Not to Take Military Action Against S-300 Air Defense System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
July 21, 1998 No. 31/98

AHI CALLS FOR U.S. WARNING TO TURKEY NOT TO TAKE MILITARY ACTION AGAINST S-300 AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM

On July 21, 1998, the American Hellenic Institute sent a letter (copy attached) to President Bill Clinton drawing attention to a July 20 speech made in the occupied area of Cyprus by Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz in which he threatened military action against Cyprus in the event that the S-300 air defense system is deployed there. The letter urged the Administration to warn Turkey not to take such military action

The letter states that AHI has long defended Cyprus' legal and moral right of self-defense. AHI has also long called upon the U.S. to exercise its traditional responsibility to protect the small and weak against the powerful and lawless by extending forthright support to Cyprus as the victim of Turkish military aggression. On this day when 37.3% of Cyprus begins its twenty-fifth year under Turkish occupation, these age old principles of American diplomacy are in desperate need of rejuvenation.

Mr. Yilmaz's speech shows that the Administration must now address the threat of Turkish military action when the S-300 system is deployed. In weighing its choices, Turkey and especially the Turkish military will be particularly responsive to U.S. attitudes. If they feel that the U.S. will look the other way or will not respond forcefully, they will calculate that they can use military force without paying a price, thus seriously damaging U.S. national interests.

The U.S. alone can prevent this. The letter calls for an Administration statement backed by confirmation on diplomatic channels that the U.S. will not tolerate any Turkish military action against Cyprus and that any such action would have drastic consequences for the U.S.-Turkish relationship.

These consequences could include a swift U.S. military response, a promise to replace any Cypriot defensive systems destroyed by Turkey, a written guarantee to Cyprus of protection from further Turkish aggression, consultations with Congress for the immediate imposition of sanctions against Turkey, reference to the UN Security Council under Chapter 7 for mandatory sanctions, abandonment of U.S. support for Turkey's EU aspirations, action to suspend Turkey from NATO, and withdrawal of U.S. support for Turkey within the international financial institutions.