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AHI Sends Letter to Secretary Albright Protesting U.S. Opposition to S-300 Air Defense System as Contrary to International Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
July 13, 1998 No. 28/98

AHI SENDS LETTER TO SECRETARY ALBRIGHT PROTESTING U.S. OPPOSITION TO S-300 AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM AS CONTRARY TO INTERNATIONAL LAW

On July 10, 1998 the American Hellenic Institute sent a letter (copy attached) to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright protesting continued U.S. opposition to Cyprus' proposed acquisition of the S-S-300 air defense system. The letter responded to a July 8 call by the State Department Spokesman, Mr. James Rubin, for the purchase to be canceled.

The letter sets out AHI's strong disagreement with the Administration's position on the S-300 system as a matter of law and policy. It argues that, by failing to support Cyprus's sovereign right of self-defense, the Administration violates the rule of law. This failure to uphold basic international law, which is also enshrined in the UN Charter, is detrimental to the world-wide interests of the U.S.

AHI further criticizes the Administration's diplomatic tactics. These place all the burden for concessions on the Republic of Cyprus rather than on the real source of the problem, the military controlled government of Turkey. Despite President Clerides' proposal for demilitarization, the Turkish military has not reciprocated, but has made new threats. Cyprus is threatened by Turkey's occupation troops and vastly superior military forces and has every right to acquire the means of self-defense.

The letter calls on the Administration to state the facts as they are, that the U.S.' immediate criticism of Cyprus on the S-300 issue in January 1997 created the issue where none existed. The Administration has sided with the aggressor, Turkey, and has penalized Cyprus, the victim of Turkey's aggression. This is a violation of international law. Further, criticism of the S-300 encourages the Turkish military to instigate new threats of aggression and to place unacceptable preconditions in the way of settlement negotiations on the Cyprus problem.

These actions by Turkey are damaging to U.S. national interests.