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AHI Sends Letter to Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Regarding the Forthcoming Confirmation Hearing for the New U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
November 8, 2005—No. 96 (202) 785-8430

AHI Sends Letter to Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Regarding the Forthcoming Confirmation Hearing for the New U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus

WASHINGTON, DC—On November 8, 2005, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis sent a letter to the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the forthcoming confirmation hearing on Wednesday, November 9, 2005, for the new U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Ronald L. Schlicher. Please find the letter below.

November 8, 2005

Dear Senator:

On behalf of our nation-wide membership, I write to request that as you convene this Wednesday, November 9, 2005, to conduct confirmation hearings for the newly nominated U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Ronald L. Schlicher, you take into consideration a number of undisputed facts.

First, that the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member country, is currently in its 31st year of being illegally occupied and divided by Turkey—a U.S. ally, a NATO member, and an aspiring EU country.

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 so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) is an illegal entity under international law and is not recognized by any nation in the world except for Turkey.

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.

Unfortunately, ever since 76 percent of the Greek Cypriots voted against the undemocratic, unworkable and financially not viable, Annan Plan, the Department of State has been openly looking for ways to shift the blame on to the Greek Cypriots by pursuing certain incremental measures to “ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.” These have included:

  • officials from the Transportation Security Administration conducting inspection of airports in the illegally occupied north;
  • the illegal authorization by the State Department for direct visits of U.S. officials and members of Congress to the occupied north;
  • exploring ways whereby direct U.S. flights can proceed directly to the occupied north; and
  • a recent visit to the State Department by Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat at the invitation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

This policy is shockingly misguided and exhibits a lack of knowledge of the facts regarding the Cyprus problem. It reverses the role of the victim, the Greek Cypriots, and the aggressor, Turkey. The U.S. can “ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots” overnight by asking Turkey to remove:

  • The 40,000 illegal Turkish occupation troops;
  • The 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers; and
  • The Turkish Green Line barbed wire fence.

By continuing to perpetuate a negative policy toward the Republic of Cyprus, a country which the United States has historically enjoyed a strong bilateral and multilateral relationship, we run the risk of being divisive and counterproductive to reaching a fair settlement on Cyprus because we are encouraging Turkey’s and Turkish Cypriot intransigence.

Our position should be to support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing the key American principles of majority rule, the rule of law and protection of minority rights, the EU acquis communautaire, UN resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European Courts.

The failure of the U.S. to support majority rule for the 80 percent Greek Cypriots and protection of minority rights for the 18 percent Turkish Cypriots makes a travesty of the Bush administration’s democracy initiative for the Middle East and elsewhere.

By continuing a systematic policy of attempting to up-grade the “TRNC,” including support for a minority veto government, the U.S. is portrayed as not being interested in solving the Cyprus issue in a viable and just manner that is equitable to both sides. A just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem would undoubtedly set a great example for the region. Continuing U.S. policy on its present course will only serve to exacerbate the problem and make finding a fair and lasting solution more difficult.

With the above serving as a back drop, I am enclosing herewith a set of questions that you might want to consider asking Mr. Schlicher during his confirmation hearing.

If you or your staff have any questions or need additional information, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Nick Larigakis
Executive Director

Enclosure

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