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Op-Ed on “Questions for the 2008 Presidential Candidates”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
June 27, 2007—No. 43 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed on “Questions for the 2008 Presidential Candidates”

Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in the National Herald, the Hellenic Voice, the Greek News and the Hellenic News of America.

Questions for the 2008 Presidential Candidates

By Gene Rossides

June 4, 2007

The American Hellenic Institute on May 17, 2007 sent the 2007 Greek American Policy Statements, approved by leading Greek American membership organizations, to the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

On May 23, 2007, AHI sent a detailed Questionnaire for 2008 Presidential Candidates regarding Cyprus, the Aegean, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Halki, the Visa Waiver Program, FYROM and Turkey.

Readers can help in getting the candidates to focus on our foreign policy issues, which are secondary to Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian problem, Russia, China and Darfur, by writing to one or more of the candidates seeking their views on issues of concern to the Greek American community.

The following are the questions AHI sent to the presidential candidates with prefaces to the questions.

CYPRUS

2007 marks the sad 33-year anniversary of Turkey’s 1974 invasion and occupation of 37% of the sovereign state of Cyprus. There are in Cyprus an estimated 40,000 illegal Turkish occupation troops and 140,000 illegal settlers/colonists from Turkey in violation of the Geneva convention of 1949.

The U.S. in its own interests of promoting democracy, peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East needs to support a solution for Cyprus based on democratic values.

QUESTIONS:

(1) Do you support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a 
bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a sovereign state, incorporating the norms of 
constitutional democracy, the EU acquis communautaire, all UN resolutions on 
Cyprus, and the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Humans Rights?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

(2) Do you support a settlement for Cyprus that would be democratic, fair, workable, financially viable and just for all the people of Cyprus?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

(3) Do you support the immediate removal of Turkey’s 40,000 occupation forces from Cyprus?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

(4) Do you support the prompt removal from Cyprus and return to Turkey of the over 140,000 illegal settlers/colonists from Turkey?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

(5) Do you support the immediate tearing down by Turkey of the Turkish barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

(6) Do you support a property recovery and compensation system for the 170,000 Greek Cypriot victims of Turkey’s aggression?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

(7) Do you support the rights of all Cypriots to buy property and live wherever they choose in Cyprus without being limited by ethnic quotas?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

(8) Do you support H.R. 1456, and S. 695 in the 110th Congress the American-Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, which enables U.S. citizens who own property in the Turkish occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus to seek financial remedies in U.S. courts either against the current illegal inhabitants of their land or the Turkish government?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

AEGEAN SEA BOUNDARY

Turkey has laid claim to one-half of the Aegean Sea and refuses to take its claim to the International Court of Justice at the Hague for a binding ruling.

H.Con.Res.137, a bipartisan resolution was introduced by Representative Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ) in April of 2005, expressing the view of the House that the boundaries of Greece and Turkey in the Aegean have been long-established by treaties and anyone disagreeing should take their claim to the International Court of Justice at the Hague. This bipartisan resolution had 31 co-sponsors. Similar legislation will be introduced in the 110th Congress.

QUESTION:

Will you support similar legislation in the 110th Congress?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE

The Turkish government has tolerated repeated assaults against its Greek Orthodox religious minority, and against the Ecumenical Patriarchate and continues the illegal closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology in Istanbul.

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in North America, led a panel discussion at the U.S. Helsinki Commission on March 16, 2005 which presented a clear picture of how religious human rights violations by the Turkish government have been working to exterminate the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox community in that country.

QUESTION:

(1) Do you agree that the U.S. should use its influence with the Turkish government to ensure the protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by supporting Section 2804 of the Fiscal Year 1999 Appropriations Bill, as well as assuring that positive steps are taken to reopen the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology, and to establish conditions to ensure religious freedom in Turkey?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

(2) Will you support using provisions of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to pressure Turkey for the religious freedom of the Patriarchate?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

VISA WAIVER PROGRAM:

Greece has met all the technical requirements for participation. The State Department supports Greece’s inclusion in the visa-waiver program.

QUESTION:

Would you provide support by urging the Department of Homeland Security to include Greece as a full member in the Visa Waiver Program?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The “Macedonia” issue stems from the 1991 secessionist Skopje regime’s naming itself in the most provocative way possible as the so called “Republic of Macedonia.” The State Department’s reversal of U.S. policy on November 4, 2004 by the recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as the “Republic of Macedonia” was an act of disgraceful proportions as it relates to our staunch ally and supporter in the Balkans, Greece.

QUESTION:

Do you support the U.S. using its influence to pressure the government of FYROM to negotiate with Greece for a solution to the name issue which does not include the word “Macedonia”?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

U.S. POLICY TOWARDS TURKEY
The U.S.’s successful prosecution of the war against Iraq without access from Turkey proved Turkey’s marginality as a strategic military resource in the region. Turkey is a proven unreliable ally who refused to allow the U.S. in 2003 to use bases in Turkey to open a northern front against Saddam Hussein dictatorship because she wanted $6 billion more- in addition to $26 billion irresponsibility offered by the Administration for a total of $32 billion. An administration official called Turkey’s negotiating tactics “extortion in the name of the alliance.”

Turkey’s strategic unreliability is not new. During the Cold War, Turkey actively aided the Soviet military to the serious detriment of the U.S.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), a member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, said, “ It’s my belief in the larger picture, what the United States has to do is fundamentally reexamine its relationship with the nation of Turkey.”

QUESTION:

Would you support a reexamination of United States relations with Turkey?

__Yes   __No   __Undecided

 

Communications from the grass roots to the candidates are extremely important. You can make a difference. Please write and call today.

The names of the Democratic candidates are: Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina and the Democratic Party’s Vice Presidential nominee in 2004, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Obama of Illinois, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of the 10th district of Ohio and Mike Gravel, former senator from Alaska.

The names of the Republican candidates are: Representative Duncan Hunter of the 52nd Congressional District of California and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, former Governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, James S. Gilmore III of Virginia and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Representatives Ron Paul of the 14th district of Texas and Tom Tancredo of the 6th district of Colorado, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy G. Thomson, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Senator John McCain of Arizona. Three unannounced potential candidates are Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee and Newt Gingrich, former House speaker.

You can find the addresses and phone numbers of the candidates on the internet.

Gene Rossides is President of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury

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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.