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AHI General Counsel Gene Rossides Testifies Opposing $1 Billion In Aid To Turkey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
April 4, 2003 No. 17 (202) 785-8430

AHI General Counsel Gene Rossides Testifies
Opposing $1 Billion In Aid To Turkey

WASHINGTON, DC—On April 2, 2003, the American Hellenic Institute's (AHI) General Counsel Gene Rossides presented testimony on behalf of AHI and the Hellenic American National Council (HANC) before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Financing and Related Programs. The testimony opposed the $1 billion aid to Turkey in the Bush Administration's $75 billion emergency spending package to fund the war in Iraq.

In the best interests of the United States, AHI opposed all military and economic aid to Turkey in the current bill and the supplemental appropriations bill for the war in Iraq for the following reasons:

Turkey's actions opposing the use of Turkish bases by U.S. troops to open a northern front against the Saddam Hussein dictatorship;

Turkey's horrendous human rights violations against its citizens generally and in particular against its 15 million Kurdish minority;

Turkey's continuing illegal occupation of Cyprus with 35,000 Turkish armed forces and over 90,000 illegal colonists from Turkey;

our huge deficit;

our substantial domestic needs;

the fact that the Turkish military has "tens of billions of dollars" in a cash fund and owns vast business enterprises including the arms production companies of Turkey;

the fact that Turkey owes the U.S. $5 billion; and

the fact that the U.S. has opened a northern front with airborne troops.

Mr. Rossides noted that, as a matter of law, Turkey is ineligible for foreign aid under Sections 116 and 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, because of its "consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights" in Turkey and in Cyprus.

Any aid to Turkey should be granted only if Turkey has met specific conditions. In addition to "performance standards relating to Turkey's economic policies and its role as an ally," suggested by certain Members of Congress, Mr. Rossides stated that the conditions should include:

  • removal of Turkish occupation forces and colonists from Cyprus;
  • full human rights and autonomy for the Kurdish minority in Turkey;
  • removal of the illegal blockade of Armenia;
  • full religious freedom and protection for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, and reopening of the illegally closed Halki School of Theology;
  • civilian control of the Turkish military with the return of the military to the barracks;
  • the divestiture by the Turkish military of its ownership of the arms production companies of Turkey and its other businesses;
  • repayment by the Turkish military from its "tens of billions of dollars" in a cash fund of the $5 billion debt owed to the U.S.; and
  • referral by Turkey to the International Court of Justice at the Hague of any claims it asserts regarding the Aegean.

AHI supported an amount of $15 million for humanitarian aid to Cyprus.

Mr. Rossides included in his testimony the following three joint letters to President George W. Bush as exhibits:

  • Exhibit 1—February 26, 2003, Re.: Senior administration official calls Turkish actions "extortion in the name of alliance." Where is the outcry? Turkey is not vital nor needed in the event of war with Iraq (click here)
  • Exhibit 2—September 4, 2002, Re.: Remarks of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on Turkey (click here)
  • Exhibit 3—December 11, 2002, Re.: United States Policy Towards Turkey—Need for a Critical Review (click here)

A copy of the AHI testimony follows. For additional information, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.


Testimony of Gene Rossides on behalf of the American Hellenic Institute and the Hellenic American National Council

before the

House Appropriations Subcommittee on
Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs

April 2, 2003

Chairman Kolbe, Ranking Member Lowey and Members of the Subcommittee, we appreciate very much the opportunity to present testimony to the Subcommittee.
In the interest of the United States:

1. We oppose all military and economic aid to the military-controlled government of Turkey in this bill and any supplemental appropriations bills. It is unreasonable to give aid to Turkey in view of:

  • Turkey's actions opposing the use of Turkish bases by U.S. troops to open a northern front against the Saddam Hussein dictatorship;
  • Turkey's horrendous human rights violations against its citizens generally and in particular against its 15 million Kurdish minority;
  • Turkey's continuing illegal occupation of Cyprus with 35,000 Turkish armed forces and over 90,000 illegal colonists from Turkey;
  • our huge deficit;
  • our substantial domestic needs;
  • the fact that the Turkish military has "tens of billions of dollars" in a cash fund and owns vast business enterprises including the arms production companies of Turkey;
  • the fact that Turkey owes the U.S. $5 billion; and
  • the fact that the U.S. has opened a northern front with airborne troops.

We specifically oppose the administration's request for $1 billion in grant aid to Turkey in the supplemental appropriations bill for the Iraqi war. That $1 billion can be leveraged into $8.5 billion in loan guarantees. We understand that $1 billion for Turkey was added at the last minute to the bill. It should be withdrawn by the administration. It is not reasonable to have put any amount in the bill for Turkey for the reasons stated above. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated that the amount for Turkey was "a request not a commitment." (Daily Press Briefing, March 25, 2003.)

2. We support the amount of $15 million in humanitarian aid for Cyprus. This aid is an important symbol of U.S. support for Cyprus and of the U.S. commitment to achieving a just, viable and comprehensive settlement.

Mr. Chairman, as a matter of law Turkey is ineligible for foreign aid under Sections 116 and 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, because of its "consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights" in Turkey and in Cyprus. I refer the Subcommittee members to the State Department's "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices‹2002," released on March 31, 2003, for the 36 page report on Turkey.

On February 26, 2003 we sent a joint letter to President George W. Bush regarding what a senior administration official described as Turkey's "extortion in the name of alliance" and setting forth the reasons why Turkey is not vital nor needed in the event of war with Iraq. That letter is attached as Exhibit 1 (click here). That letter discusses Turkey's efforts to extract even more dollars from the U.S. and a veto on actions regarding the Kurds in northern Iraq and access to Iraqi oil. The letter also discusses the moral issues involved including Turkey's decades-long ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocidal campaign against its 20 percent Kurdish minority in which the Turkish military has killed since 1984 over 30,000 innocent Kurds and through paramilitary groups assassinated 18,000 Kurds; and destroyed 2,500 Kurdish villages creating 2,500,000 Kurdish refugees.

Mr. Edward Peck, a retired U.S. ambassador who served as U.S. Chief of Mission in Baghdad from 1977 to 1980 stated in an article in the Mediterranean Quarterly (Fall 2001) that the Kurds in Turkey "have faced far more extensive persecution than they do in Iraq."

Mr. Chairman, certain Members have indicated luke-warm support for aid to Turkey and only for a smaller amount and with specific conditions regarding "performance standards relating to Turkey's economic policies and its role as an ally." Any conditions should include:

  • removal of Turkish occupation forces and colonists from Cyprus,
  • full human rights and autonomy for the Kurdish minority in Turkey, removal of the illegal blockade of Armenia,
  • full religious freedom and protection for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, and reopening of the illegally closed Halki School of Theology;
  • civilian control of the military with the return of the military to the barracks,
  • the divestiture by the military of its ownership of the arms production companies of Turkey and its other businesses,
  • repayment by the Turkish military from its "tens of billions of dollars" of the $5 billion debt owed to the U.S.; and
  • referral by Turkey to the International Court of Justice at the Hague of any claims it asserts regarding the Aegean.

The Turkish military and the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rejected negotiations on UN Secretary General Annan's proposed agreement on Cyprus while the newly elected President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tasso Papadopoulos, accepted negotiations.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, Turkey is the cause of problems and tensions in its region, not the solution.

For additional relevant letters and statements please refer to the American Hellenic Institute's web site at www.ahiworld.org .

Thank you.