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American Hellenic Institute Releases Year 2000 Greek American Policy Statements
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
February 9, 2000 No. 8/2000 (202) 785-8430

American Hellenic Institute Releases
Year 2000 Greek American Policy Statements

On February 9, 2000 the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) released the year 2000 Greek American Policy Statements prepared by AHI and reviewed and approved by the Order of AHEPA and its Cyprus and Hellenic Affairs Committee, the Hellenic American National Council (HANC), the Hellenic American Women's Council (HAWC) and the Cyprus Federation of America, the key membership organizations in the community. In each case the policies set forth are based on the question of what is in the best interests of the United States.

The Policy Statements highlight the significant changes taking place in the political, security and economic landscape in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region. At its December 10-11, 1999 Helsinki Council, the European Union decided to grant candidate status to Turkey under conditions which, in effect, require Turkey to resolve the Aegean and Cyprus issues. Turkey's compliance or otherwise will be a key issue in the coming year. Under G8 and UN sponsorship, proximity talks on Cyprus took place in New York and Geneva, with a further round due later this year. The pace of contact between Greece and Turkey has accelerated, including an exchange of visits by the two foreign ministers which resulted in a series of agreements for mutual cooperation. There are now hopes of better relations between the two countries.

The Policy Statements stress the strategic importance of Greece and Cyprus as regional partners of the United States. As vigorous, prosperous and stable democracies, they are a source of regional political and economic leadership that offers the opportunity to make a decisive advance for U.S. national interests in the region.

The Policy Statements contrast the negative role played by Turkey, which continues to be the prime cause of many of the region's problems. This is in large part because of the anti-democratic influence of the Turkish military over Turkish governance as set forth in the Turkish constitution. Turkey has continued its illegal territorial claims against sovereign Greek territory, introduced new and unacceptable conditions for negotiations about Cyprus, continued its harassment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and, as detailed in the State Department's annual country human rights report, further stained its already notorious human rights record against pro-democratic forces and ethnic and religious minorities inside Turkey.

The Policy Statements set out a legislative agenda for the 2nd session of the 106th Congress, including a call for congressional hearings on a critical review of U.S. policy toward Turkey.