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AHI Sends Letter to Congressman Edward Whitfield (R-KY) Regarding his Forthcoming Trip to the Illegally Occupied Part of Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
May 26, 2005—No.56 (202) 785-8430

AHI Sends Letter to Congressman Edward Whitfield (R-KY) Regarding his Forthcoming Trip to the Illegally Occupied Part of Cyprus

WASHINGTON, DC—On May 26, 2005 AHI President Gene Rossides sent a letter to Congressman Edward Whitfield (R-KY) expressing disappointment regarding his forthcoming trip to the illegally occupied area of Cyprus entering through Tymbou airport. The text of the letter follows:

May 26, 2005

The Honorable Edward Whitfield
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Whitfield:

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI), on behalf of its nationwide membership, is extremely disappointed in your decision to travel to the illegally occupied part of Cyprus via the illegal Tymbou airport.

Contrary to whatever advice you might have been given by the State Department, such an action violates U.S. law and international law and does not serve the best interests of the United States in support of a proper solution to the reunification of Cyprus. On the contrary, if Members of the House of Representatives take part in this trip through the illegal Tymbou airport instead of through the legal airport of Larnaca, it places those Members in a position of aiding and abetting the violation of the laws of the Republic of Cyprus, a friendly nation who has helped the U.S. substantially on many important occasions. It further lends endorsement of the illegal occupation and violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus.

Congressman Whitfield, you are not just an ordinary American citizen. You are an elected Member of Congress who is sworn to protect and uphold the laws of our nation and to respect the laws of other sovereign nations. As such, your actions have the potential to set precedents that can be contrary to U.S. interests throughout the world.

The AHI strongly supports congressional visits to Cyprus, including the occupied area of Cyprus in the north, if they are done in a manner consistent with international law and U.S. law. The internationally recognized government of the Republic of Cyprus facilitates such visits from Larnaca airport to the various crossing points in the UN monitored buffer zone. Larnaca airport is a legal internationally recognized airport in the Republic of Cyprus.

As forces around the world continue to challenge our values, principles and laws, a key weapon of democracy is the rule of law. If our own lawmakers do not support the rule of law, then what example are we displaying for the rest of world?

You may be aware that a Congressional Delegation will be visiting Cyprus entering through a legal port on May 31, 2005. Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) are leading this group of approximately nine members. They are also scheduled to meet with our U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Michael Klosson.

By way of background as to why you should not travel directly into the occupied north, we bring to your attention certain facts for your consideration.

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 illegal 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 S.C. Resolution 365, passed on December 13, 1974 endorsing Resolution 3212. Furthermore, the continued presence of Turkish troops and illegal Turkish settlers in the region is illegal.

The airports in occupied Cyprus are located on property that was illegally taken from its lawful owners during the Turkish invasion. Therefore, 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. Under consistent rulings issued by the European Court of Human Rights which were affirmed as recently as April, 2005, 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. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit applied this principle with respect to personal property that was purported to have been transferred under the laws of the TRNC. This principle applies with even greater force with respect to real property.

These rightful property owners include U.S. citizens. U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced the bipartisan American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, H.R. 857 on February 16, 2005 with 12 original co-sponsors. The bill vests subject matter jurisdiction in the federal courts to hear causes of action against any person or entity who uses or occupies the real property of any U.S. citizen who holds title to that property under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus.

Also, according to an AP Online report of May 24, 2005 you are quoted as saying that Turkey is a "critical ally" and that "Improved relations with Turkey will strengthen U.S. foreign policy goals throughout the world."

While we don not subscribe to this belief for many reasons, I will mention but a few:

  • Turkey’s failure to assist the U.S. in the opening days of the Iraq War;
  • Turkey’s continuing illegal occupation of Cyprus;
  • Turkey’s continuing violations of Greece’s sovereign territory; and
  • Turkey’s continuous violations of religious freedoms including that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the spiritual center of approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

May we also suggest that in addition to the meetings that you will have with government and military officials as mentioned, by the AP, that you also meet with the human rights groups and other democratic building institutions in Turkey and also leaders of the Kurdish community and the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Finally, your trip to the occupied part of Cyprus via Tymbou airport would have an adverse effect against the legitimate government of Cyprus. A message would be sent that certain Members of Congress do not support a resolution of the Cyprus problem that is consistent with UN resolutions and the rule of law. A viable solution to the Cyprus problem that is just and equitable to both sides would undoubtedly set a great example for the region, but supporting this trip will only serve to exacerbate the problem.


Sincerely,


Gene Rossides

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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.