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AHI Testimony Calls For U.S. Diplomatic, Political and Economic Pressure On Turkey To Resolve Aegean And Cyprus Issues
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
July 5, 2001 No. 37/01 (202) 785-8430

AHI Testimony Calls For U.S. Diplomatic, Political and Economic Pressure On Turkey To Resolve Aegean And Cyprus Issues

AHI founder Gene Rossides submitted testimony on June 29, 2001 to the House International Relations Subcommittee on Europe in which he called on the U.S. to exert diplomatic, political and economic pressure on Turkey to resolve the Aegean and Cyprus issues.

The 19-page testimony, responding to a June 13, 2001 subcommittee hearing on "U.S. Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean: Managing the Greece, Turkey, Cyprus Triangle," voiced the AHI's position and recommendations for policymakers regarding this region.

Mr. Rossides' testimony stressed that the U.S. has critical interests in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Significant communication links for commerce and energy sources pass through this region. Furthermore, the U.S. can contribute to and benefit from the prospect of greater Balkan stability, the progression of European Union (EU) enlargement talks, and enhanced regional cooperation and development.

To this end, policy themes to be pursued in the best interest of the U.S. should include:

  1. fostering American values and, in particular, the rule of law in international affairs;
  2. recognizing Greece as the pivotal nation for U.S. interests in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean;
  3. promoting a fair and just settlement of the Cyprus problem based on UN resolutions and democratic norms and EU legal principles and common practices;
  4. resolving Aegean territorial issues based on the rule of law;
  5. supporting the rapprochement between Greece and Turkey; and
  6. transforming Turkey into a genuine democracy with the military under civilian rule and giving full support to the democratic forces in Turkey who are contending with the self-perpetuating military junta.

A major focus of the testimony included recommendations for significantly revising U.S. policy toward Turkey. Regarding U.S. political interests in the Cyprus and Aegean issues and Greek-Turkish rapprochement, some suggest that the main effort to achieve progress in these areas should be through the U.S. encouraging dialogue and communication between the two countries on all levels.

AHI testimony points out that while dialogue and communication should continue, use of this procedure alone has not worked during the past decades. The U.S. must also be willing to exert diplomatic, economic and political pressure on Turkey to improve the situation. Absent such pressure, Greek-Turkish rapprochement will not develop as the U.S. wishes it to, and there will not be any significant progress on Cyprus or the Aegean. The U.S. must halt the application of a double standard to Turkey on the rule of law.

To illustrate the results of applying a such a double standard, the testimony draws a comparison between former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic's indictment for war crimes, which AHI supports, and those crimes committed by the Turkish military. There are no legal or philosophical differences between campaigns of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity conducted by Milosevic in Yugoslavia and those conducted by the Turkish military in the Kurdistan region of Turkey. In the campaign against the Kurds, "35,000 people [were] killed in military campaigns, 17,500 were assassinated between 1984....and 1998....An additional 1,000 people were reportedly assassinated in the first nine months of 1999," while the Turkish military burned over 2,500 Kurdish villages in its scorched-earth campaign, resulting in over 2.5 million Kurdish refugees. With this in mind, the Turkish military high command should be held accountable for war crimes against its Kurdish minority.

Further, the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has admitted that the five American civilians of Greek Cypriot descent who were in the custody of the Turkish Cypriot militia were killed by the Turkish Cypriot militia during Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Mr. Denktash was in command of the Turkish Cypriot militia and should be held accountable for this crimes.

Furthermore, Turkey's invasion of Cyprus on July 20, 1974 and its renewed aggression on August 14-16, 1974 are war crimes and should be acted upon.

In concluding remarks, the AHI testimony asserted that the key to furthering U.S. interests in the Southeast Europe and Eastern Mediterranean regions is Greece and the U.S. should develop a "special relationship" with Greece:

"Greece today is still the key for U.S. interests in the region in protecting the sea lanes in the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Seas for the transportation of oil, natural gas and trade goods generally, and in promoting democracy, economic progress and stability in the Balkans. The U.S. has an important opportunity today to further American interests in the region by developing a special relationship with Greece, with mutual benefits to both countries. We should do everything possible to seize the opportunity."

The testimony was submitted on behalf of AHI, the Hellenic American National Council (HANC), the Hellenic American Women's Council (HAWC), the Evrytanian Association of America (Velouchi), the Pan Macedonian Association of America, the Pan Cretan Association of America, the Pan Laconian Federation of U.S.A. and Canada, and the Pan Karpathian Educational Progressive Association.

To obtain a copy or additional information regarding the testimony, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected], and visit our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.

Click here to view the full testimony.