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AHI Sends Letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Regarding the U.S. Delegation Trip to the Northern Occupied Part of Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
February 16, 2005—No.9 (202) 785-8430

AHI Sends Letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Regarding the U.S. Delegation Trip to the Northern Occupied Part of Cyprus

WASHINGTON, DC—On February 16, 2005, AHI President Gene Rossides sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regarding the forthcoming trip of a U.S. business delegation to the northern occupied part of Cyprus on February 17, 2005. The text of the letter follows:

February 16, 2005

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
State Department
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

I write to you regarding the participation of a U.S. Commercial Attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara in the forthcoming visit of a business delegation to the occupied area of Cyprus on February 17. 2005. The State Department’s involvement in this visit to northern Cyprus is illegal, misguided, and problematic.

To begin, the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (referred to as the TRNC) is an illegal entity under international law and is not recognized by any nation in the world except for Turkey. Turkey’s illegal 1974 invasion of the sovereign Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish army’s continuing illicit occupation of 37.3 percent of the island—accomplished with the unlawful use of U.S. arms—are violations of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, article 2 (4) of the UN Charter, and the North Atlantic Treaty. The Turkish occupation violates several UN resolutions, such as the unanimous UN General Assembly Resolution 3212, passed on November 1, 1974, which called for the removal of all foreign military forces. It also violates Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 365, passed on December 13, 1974 to endorse Resolution 3212. Furthermore, the continued presence of Turkish troops and unauthorized Turkish settlers in the region is illegal.

In a press briefing on February 12, 2005, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Richard Boucher said of the forthcoming business delegation visit, "The group will be accompanied by the U.S. Commercial Attaché from Embassy Ankara. He is going along to help facilitate their work. That’s a standard practice worldwide with business delegations." While this may indeed be standard practice worldwide, the fact that your department is applying this policy to northern Cyprus, an illegal pseudo-state, and having the delegation fly into the unrecognized Tymbou airport by way of Ankara violates U.S. law and international law. In fact, the attaché’s involvement in the delegation is a violation of EU laws as well as of UN resolutions 541 and 550.

In addition to the breach of UN resolutions and international law, the intended visit is problematic because of the issue of property rights in northern Cyprus. The only rightful owners of real property in the TRNC are those persons who hold title under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus, which is the internationally recognized government of Cyprus. The only transfers of title or other interest in real property in the TRNC that are legal are transfers that are accomplished under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus. Since the Turkish military prevents the operation of the laws of the Republic of Cyprus in the TRNC, any transfer is illegal and subject to rescission by the rightful owner.

These rightful property owners include U.S. citizens. U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced the American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, H.R. 5071 on September 14, 2004. The bill vests subject matter jurisdiction in the federal courts to hear causes of action against any person or entity subject to the personal jurisdiction of the federal courts who uses or occupies the real property of any U.S. citizen who holds title to that property under the law of the Republic of Cyprus. The bill, which had 15 cosponsors, was reintroduced in Congress today, February 16th, 2005 and has 12 original cosponsors.

Some other considerations your department should be aware of regarding this visit to the occupied northern area of Cyprus are the fact that the rightful owners of property in northern Cyprus are currently waging legal battles in the EU over lost property and in many cases winning legal reparations. Also, any business activity in northern Cyprus violates both EU and international law. For your reference, enclosed with this letter is a copy of the letter that we have sent to the 9 U.S. businesses participating in the delegation which outlines these points in more depth.

The fact that a representative of the U.S. government is accompanying this delegation is therefore particularly troubling. In a recent interview with Metehan Demir of Turkey’s Kanal-D TV, you stated, with regards to the situation in Cyprus, "…we are looking at what we can do to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots because we, like everyone else, were disappointed that the Annan plan was not adopted. We have taken some steps, direct aid for instance to Turkish Cypriots, but there are probably other things that we should look at doing…"

Sending a U.S. Commercial Attaché to accompany this business delegation, however, places the U.S. in a position of being the accomplice to aiding and abetting the violation of the laws of the sovereign Republic of Cyprus, a friendly nation who has helped the U.S. substantially on many important occasions. It is also unwise to recommend such a trip to U.S. companies, since the titled property owners have demonstrated that they are committed to vindicating their legitimate property rights in any forum and under any circumstances. Alienating and angering Greek Cypriots who have been forced off their land will not help the situation.

Finally, promoting a U.S.-sanctioned business trip to northern Cyprus portrays the U.S. as uninterested in solving the Cyprus issue in a viable and just manner that is equitable to both sides. A viable solution to the Cyprus problem would undoubtedly set a great example for the region, but supporting this business delegation will only serve to exacerbate the problem and make finding a fair and lasting solution more difficult.

Sincerely,

Gene Rossides

Click here to view the attached enclosure.

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.