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Congress Calls for Hearings on Illegal Transfers of U.S. Arms by Turkey: AHI Calls on Members to Support This Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
July 20, 1998 No. 30/98

CONGRESS CALLS FOR HEARINGS ON ILLEGAL TRANSFERS OF U.S. ARMS BY TURKEY: AHI CALLS ON MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THIS ACTION

On July 9, 1998 Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) issued a 'Dear Colleague' letter to all members of the House of Representatives. In the letter they invite their colleagues to sign a letter urging Chairman Ben Gilman of the House International Relations Committee to hold hearings on the illegal transfer of U.S. arms by Turkey to the occupied areas of Cyprus and to Azerbaijan. They have also written directly to Chairman Gilman urging him to take this action.

The letter points out that Turkey has illegally occupied 37% of Cyprus for nearly 24 years. It currently stations over 35,000 troops on the island in violation of successive UN security Council resolutions mandating their withdrawal. Turkey has refused to negotiate about Cyprus in good faith. Instead it has introduced new preconditions designed to sabotage the search for a settlement. On May 4, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke publicly criticized Turkey for its intransigence.

In the Caucasus, Turkey maintains a cruel and illegal blockade against Armenia, thus preventing the delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance to Armenia. Further, Turkey gives assistance to Azerbaijan to further its aims of denying self-determination to the people of Nagorno Karabakh.

In both cases, there are strong concerns that Turkey is using U.S. supplied arms to support its illegal occupation of parts of Cyprus and to destabilize Armenia. This is a violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

The letter draws attention to the damage to U.S. interests arising from these actions by Turkey. It calls upon Chairman Gilman to hold hearings on the subject of the transfer of U.S. weapons by Turkey to the occupied areas of Cyprus and to Azerbaijan.

The American Hellenic Institute congratulates Representatives Pallone, Maloney, and Sherman for this initiative. It reflects AHI's own calls for a vigorous Congressional oversight of the illegal use by Turkey of U.S. weapons to damage U.S. foreign policy and security interests.

AHI encourages all its members to contact their Representative to urge them to co-sign the letter. AHI also urges its members to contact Chairman Gilman's office to express their support for hearings. At present, the Administration is pursuing an ill-advised policy of favoring the military-controlled government of Turkey over the U.S.' tried and tested allies in the region. This initiative by Representatives Pallone, Maloney, and Sherman represents a welcome opportunity to bring home to the Administration that this policy is damaging U.S. interests and needs to be changed.