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Clinton/Gore On US Relations With Greece, Cyprus And Turkey -- A Record Of Broken Promises And Violations Of The Rule Of Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: NICKOLAS THEROS
September 30, 2000 No. 46/00 (202) 785-8430

Statement By Eugene T. Rossides On:

Clinton/Gore On US Relations With Greece, Cyprus And Turkey -- A Record Of Broken Promises And Violations Of The Rule Of Law

The Clinton/Gore administration, during its seven-and-a-half years in office, has compiled a record of broken promises and violations of law regarding U.S. relations with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey to the detriment of U.S. interests.

Governor William Clinton, in the 1992 presidential campaign, issued a fine and comprehensive statement on issues of concern to the Greek American community, including Cyprus, the use of the name "Macedonia," and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. That statement was made on behalf of the Clinton/Gore team on the campaign letterhead

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) has on many occasions written to President Clinton regarding his failure to meet his campaign pledges. His failure amounts to a misleading of the Greek American community. Former Greek Foreign Minister Theodore Pangalos put it undiplomatically, but accurately, when he stated that President Clinton had "lied" to the Greek American community.

The actions of President Clinton, in derogation of the rule of law and the normal democratic values of majority rule, protection of minority and human rights and religious freedom regarding Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, have seriously damaged U.S. interests.

Let us examine each of the issues in Clinton's campaign statement of October 2, 1992, entitled Statement of Governor Clinton on Issues of Special Concern to the Greek American Communitv, to determine whether in fact the campaign pledges were carried out.

Cyprus

The following quote is from Clinton's 1992 statement:

In this world of extraordinary change, it is tragic that a just solution to the Cyprus problem remains elusive. Since 1974 the northern part of Cyprus has been under Turkish military occupation. The United States has a moral obligation as well as a national security interest to see that this illegal occupation of Cyprus comes to an end.

The United States and the world community will not accept the permanent division of Cyprus. The search for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem must be vigorously pursued. Such a Cyprus settlement should be consistent with the fundamental principles of human rights and democratic norms and practices. Accordingly, a Cyprus settlement can be just and viable only if it provides for the withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces; satisfactorily accounts for all American and Greek Cypriots missing since 1974; provides for the rights of refugees; ensures the sovereign independence and territorial integrity of the state; and establishes a democratic constitution which respects and guarantees the rights of both communities.

I will give the Cyprus issue a high foreign policy priority in my administration and, working with the European Community and the United Nations, I will press hard for a lasting solution to the tragedy of Cyprus. Such a solution will serve not only the best interests of Cyprus, but also the best interests of our allies, Greece and Turkey, and above all the best interests of the United States.

Clinton broke this pledge by not "vigorously" pursuing a "Cyprus settlement...consistent with the fundamental principles of human rights and democratic norms and practices." He never used this language from his campaign statement again. Instead, for seven and one-half years he has misled the Greek American community with his public relations phrase that a Cyprus settlement is a "high priority " for him, while he continued grant military and economic aid to Turkey until Congress acted, at AHI's initiative, to stop it. In fact, Clinton stated he would not apply pressure on Turkey regarding Cyprus.

Ecumenical Patriarchate

The following quote is from Clinton's 1992 statement:

The Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul is the spiritual center for more than 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide--- including some five million in the United States. Special efforts must be made to insure that the Patriarchate is free to carry out its mission.

Clinton has done little, if anything "to ensure that the Patriarchate is free to carry out its mission." In October 1998 the Congress acted by passing the bill to combat religious persecution of Christians worldwide. Included in that bill are the provisions of H.R. 6, initiated by AHI, calling for the protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the reopening of the Halki Theological School. Once again, Clinton appeased Turkey by not applying pressure on Ankara to reopen Halki.

Balkans, including the Skopji Regime Province and the name "Macedonia"

The following quote is from Clinton's 1992 statement:

The United States should support the legitimate aspirations for freedom and independence for the people of the region who have suffered over four decades of communist aggression. At the same time, we must be attentive to Greece's legitimate concern regarding the consequences of Yugoslavia's breakup on Greek security and regional stability. In particular, we must work to ensure that the violence does not spread to Kosovo or other nations in the region and that minority rights throughout the Balkans, including in Albania, are fully protected. We should work with our longtime democratic ally, Greece, and the other nations of Europe to achieve a solution that respects the rights and interests of all concerned.

I support the recent decision by the European Community which agreed to recognize the southernmost former Yugoslav Republic as an independent state provided its name does not include "Macedonia." For many Americans, the question of the use of the name "Macedonia" may seem hard to understand. At the close of World War II, the use of this name for the southern part of Yugoslavia was labeled by our then Secretary of State "as a cloak for aggressive actions against Greece" and could again become a source of instability and conflict.

The United States' position must be clear. If this new nation wishes to receive American recognition, it must first accept the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, satisfy its neighbors and the world community that its intentions are peaceful and abide by the European Community's decision which rejects the use of the name Macedonia. A Clinton Administration will stand by these principles and ensure that Greece's legitimate concerns are met.

Clinton broke this campaign pledge by not standing by "these principles." During the critical phase of negotiations between Greece and the Skopje regime, the Administration abandoned "Greece's legitimate concern" by recognizing the regime as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia before the United Nations -- prejudicing the outcome of any settlement with Greece.

The Aegean

The Aegean was not a front line issue in 1992 and not included in Clinton's 1992 campaign statement. The islet of Imia in the Aegean became a major issue between Greece and Turkey in January 30-31 1996, which nearly led to hostilities. While the Clinton administration was helpful in preventing an armed clash between Greece and Turkey, it failed to uphold and apply the rule of law to the issue.

The pertinent international treaties and aggrements are clear and unambiguous as to the water boundary between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean and that the islet of Imia is sovereign Greek territory. Yet the Clinton Administration failed in its obligation to honor and enforce the international treaties and agreements by suggesting that the parties take the Imia issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Imia issue is yet another example of the double standard on the application of the rule of law to Turkey.

The Clinton administration put Greece's sovereignty in the Aegean at issue and thereby encouraged Turkey to make additional claims on Greek territory, which it has done. Clinton's failure to apply the law to the Imia issue has created severe problems in the Aegean and damaged U.S. security interests in the region.

Clinton's suggestion that the parties take the Imia issue to the International Court of Justice is facetious to say the least. Turkey is making a unilateral claim and has stated on Aegean issues that she will not go to the ICJ for binding arbitration. Clinton had an obligation to enforce international treaties, conventions and agreements. Clinton should have stated that the law is clear, that the border in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey has been settled for over 60 years, that the islet of Imia is sovereign Greek territory and if Turkey disagrees Turkey should go to the ICJ.

The Military-Controlled Government of Turkey

President Clinton's violations of the rule of law and appeasement of Turkey are also present regarding three issues not directly involving Greece or Cyprus -- namely:

  1. Turkey's horrendous ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocidal war against its 20% Kurdish minority,
  2. Turkey's illegal blockade of Armenia which prevents U.S. humanitarian aid to Armenia, and
  3. Turkey's human rights violations against its citizens generally.

The government of Turkey is controlled by the military. Under the Turkish constituition the military controls foreign and national security policy and is able to exercise decisive influence over domestic policy.

Turkey's Ethnic Cleansing Crimes Against Humanity and Genocidal War Against Its 20% Kurdish Minority.

The complicity of the Clinton/Gore administration these past seven-and-a-half years in the Turkish military's ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocidal war against its 20% Kurdish minority with the illegal use of U.S.- supplied arms is abhorrent, a stain on U.S. honor, a violation of our laws on the use of our arms, and contrary to U.S. interests. It is a striking example of the double standard on the application of the rule of law to Turkey.

The Turkish military during the past 16 years "war of terror" against its Kurdish citizens, has killed over 30,000 innocent civilian Kurds, wounded over 100,000, destroyed over 2,500 Kurdish villages resulting in over 2,500,000 Kurdish refugees. The Turkish military action against the Kurds make the Serbian action in Kosovo pale by comparison.

Turkey's actions against the Kurds -- ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide -- are in clear violation of the UN Charter, customary international law and common decency.

The Clinton/Gore administration's policy and active support for Turkey with military and economic aid during most of the past seven-and-a-half years and its approval of military sales (including Cobra Attack helicopters), makes the United States a direct accessory, accomplice and participant in Turkey's war on its Kurdish minority and its ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Reports by the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others, highlight Turkey's use of U.S. weapons in committing human rights violations against its Kurdish citizens. The U.S. should stop supplying arms to the military-controlled government of Turkey and state that it opposes the additonal sale of 145 Bell-Textron attack helicopters to Turkey and that it will not issue an export license for such a sale.

The Clinton/Gore administration's support of Turkey includes violation of U.S. laws (the U.S. FAA and FMS acts) by failing to state that Turkey's several invasions of northern Iraq with American-supplied arms violated those laws which call for the suspension of aid to anyone using our arms for aggression.

I believe it is in the best interests of the United States and to stability in the region to support the political and human rights of the Kurdish minorities in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. If the popular wills of the Kurds call for a federal solution to their problem, the U.S. government should honor that decision. Such a decision will bring stability to a volatile region, and help establish the foundations for civil society and economic progress.

It is important to note that Turkey refuses to give minority rights and human rights to its 20% Kurdish minority, while claiming equality for the 18% Turkish Cypriot minority with the 80% Greek Cypriot majority.

The United States, in its own self-interest, should halt all assistance to Turkey, of whatever nature, and oppose any World Bank and IMF aid, until Turkey ceases its military and paramilitary operations and its massive human rights violations against its Kurdish minority. Turkey's actions against its Kurdish minority is "state terrorism" on a massive scale.

The time is long past due for a critical review of U.S.-Turkey relations by the Congress, the Executive Branch, the media and the academic community

Turkey's Blockade of Armenia

The Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, passed by the Congress and signed into permanent law as part of the 1997 Foreign Aid Bill, calls for a halt in U.S. economic and military assistance to any country blocking U.S. assistance to another country, including the Turkish blockade of U.S. assistance to Armenia. The Turkish embargo on aid to Armenia includes U.S. humanitarian and pharmaceutical aid.

The Clinton administration used the national security waiver in the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act to continue arms Turkey. The application of this waiver is contrary to the national security interests of the United States and is another example of the appeasement of Turkey. I urge the Congress to pass legislation removing economic aid from the President's waiver authority. It is in the U.S. interest to insist that the military-controlled government of Turkey lift its illegal blocade of Armenia.

Turkey's Human Rights Violations Against its Citizens Generally

Turkey's human rights violations against its citizens, generally, are manifold. Turkey's national "torture policy" against political detainees and persons accused of a crime is notorious and the subject of detailed articles in distinguished U.S. law journals, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the State Department annual report on human rights. Political detentions, lack of political freedom and banning of political parties, and lack of free speech, freedom of expression and religious freedom are other examples of Turkey's human rights violations against its citizens generally.

Human Rights Watch, in a devastating report of thirty pages, released on September 6, 2000, entitled "Turkey -- Human Rights and European Accession Partnership," documents in detail Turkey's human rights violations and sets forth specific recommendations for the EU to require of Turkey. (Human Rights Watch, Turkey, Vol. 12, No. 10 (D)- September 2000)

Vice President Al Gore

Nicholas Chimicles, chairman of the American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee (AHIPAC), sent letters to all presidential candidates seeking their responses to a questionnaire drawing on three central issues:

  1. Greece's role as the key partner for advancing U.S. regional interests;
  2. The search for a just resolution of the Cyprus problem in accordance with democratic principles and UN Security Council resolutions; and
  3. Turkey's failure to abide by the rule of law and democratic norms, both in its relations with Greece and Cyprus, and in its domestic affairs regarding minority and human rights.

Vice President Al Gore's reply to Mr. Chimicles of August 8, 2000 may be found on the AHI website (click here). Mr. Chimicles made the following comment on Vice President Gore's reply:

"We welcome Mr. Gore's commitment to a close relationship with Greece and to the search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem. We regret, however, that his statement is very general in nature and that it does not provide specific answers to the questions posed in our questionnaire. This is regrettable. After 8 years in office, Mr. Gore should have been well placed to offer concrete responses to our questions."

The highlights of Mr. Gore's statement are:

  1. Gore praises Greece as the "birthplace of the concept of partnership between people and government that lies at the heart of what we call democracy."
  2. Gore highlights the "long-standing historical, political and cultural ties" between the U.S. and Greece based on a "common heritage, shared democratic values and participation as Allies during World War II, the Korean conflict and the Cold War."
  3. Gore commits a Gore administration to continue the "expansion of the U.S.-Greek relationship."
  4. On Cyprus, Gore undertakes to pursue a "comprehensive settlement on Cyprus" that would be "in accordance with international law."
  5. On Turkey, Gore states that a "democratic, stable and internationally-oriented Turkey is critical" to efforts to make progress on the Aegean and Cyprus.
  6. Gore acknowledges his concern over the "scope of religious freedom in Turkey" in respect of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and states that a resolution of this issue would "promote the cause of freedom and peaceful co-existence throughout the region."

The Clinton/Gore record on U.S. relations with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey has been seriously harmful to U.S. interests in the region and to Greece and Cyprus. Clinton has been an open and vigorous supporter of Turkey at the expense of Greece and Cyprus. He supported military and economic grant aid to Turkey and he failed to apply the rule of law to Turkey in the Aegean and regarding Turkey's invasions of Iraq.

The Clinton Administration applied diplomatic pressure on the European Union, led by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, to admit Turkey for candidate status without conditions, and pressured the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to hold its summit in Ankara despite widespread opposition because of Turkey's horrendous human rights record.

Clinton has utterly refused to apply economic and other pressure on Turkey to get its troops out of Cyprus. In totality, the Clinton administration's Turkey policy has seriously damaged and continues to damage U.S. interests in the region.

While Clinton bears the primary responsibility for the 1992 campaign statement and the failure to carry out his pledges, Vice President Gore has been fully involved in the decisions regarding U.S. foreign relations. The questions for Gore are: did he raise any objections to the administration's decisions, which violated the Clinton/Gore 1992 campaign statements, and did he object to the administration's failure to state in 1996 that the islet of Imia is sovereign Greek territory.

Now we are having the Clinton/Gore administration considering approving a $4 billion commercial sale to Turkey of 145 U.S. Cobra attack helicopters from Bell-Textron despite pledges not to until Turkey met seven human rights guidelines, which she has not met. It appears that the Clinton/Gore Administration is more interested in arms contracts for Bell-Textron than in the rule of law and support for those Turkish citizens struggling to bring democracy to Turkey. The last thing Turkey needs is more armaments.