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AHI Applauds Members of Congress for Public Statements on 36th Anniversary of Cyprus Invasion

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
July 23, 2010—No. 49 (202) 785-8430

AHI Applauds Members of Congress for Public Statements on 36th Anniversary of Cyprus Invasion

Washington Times Commentary “Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza ”also Welcomed

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) applauds the members of Congress who submitted remarks or commentary for the public record on the occasion of the somber 36th anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus.

“We appreciate the members of Congress who took the time to observe the tragic events of July 20, 1974, when Turkey illegally invaded the Republic of Cyprus, and to this day, continues to illegally occupy 37 percent of the island nation,” said AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. “Their statements reaffirm the call for a just and viable solution to the division of Cyprus; a solution that must be arrived at by Cypriots for Cypriots. Their statements also correctly identify that Ankara must support the peace process and that the United States, in its best interests, should exert its influence to encourage Ankara to do so.”

Excerpts from the public remarks or commentary of U.S. Reps. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), Zack Space (D-OH), and John Sarbanes (D-MD) are below.

U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues Co-Chair

“It breaks my heart to hear the stories of how the occupied north has been devastated. How the Turkish occupiers have converted chapels in Kyrenia into bars and tourist information centers. How once beautiful churches have been converted into mosques. How the UN peacekeepers on the island have watched for 36 years as the Turkish army has laid landmines and can only sit and note what’s being done – a peacekeeping force operating with no mandate to stop the lawlessness. It breaks my heart that families forcibly removed from their homes had all of their personal and real property stolen from them. More heartbreaking than anything are the persons missing since 1974 whose families still grieve knowing they will never be at peace until their sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers are accounted for and whose bones must be laid to rest.

“The United States has publicly supported a solution of the Cyprus problem and specifically a bicommunal, bizonal federation. As a close ally of Turkey, the US should use its influence to push Turkey to actively support the process and the reunification of the island as a bicommunal and bizonal federation. And the U.S. must also push Turkey to withdraw its occupation forces.

View Rep. Bilirakis’ full statement here.

 

U.S. Rep. Zack Space (D-OH)

“This is a dark anniversary to mark, one that represents an entire generation of Cypriots expelled from their homes - their property confiscated, family members missing and religious artifacts vandalized and destroyed. This occupation desecrates the basic freedoms and rights of the Cypriot people. Nearly 37% of the island of Cyprus remains under Turkish military control insistent on an illegitimate sovereignty that is unrecognized by any nation but Turkey. This is completely unacceptable.

“In the past 36 years, there have been more than 75 resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council – a council of which Turkey is a member. These resolutions call for the return of refugees to their homes and withdrawal of troops from Cyprus. President Demetris Christofias has followed through on his election promise to make the solution of this problem his top priority and has had several full-fledged negotiations with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. Yet, the negotiations’ success has been consistently thwarted by Ankara, which has not given great freedom to the Turkish Cypriot leaders to negotiate within the agreed-upon framework.”

View Rep. Space’s full statement here.

 

U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) – “Can American Rely on Turkey?” Commentary in The Huffington Post , July 20, 2010

“Turkey's failure to genuinely uphold the shared values of NATO makes it a weak link in the alliance. By design, NATO originated as a defensive political and military alliance for those countries engaged in the hostilities of WWII. Turkey, the largest NATO member not to have fought in WWII, was enlisted to reinforce defenses against the Soviet Union. Yet, in the summer of 1974, NATO member Turkey invaded and occupied more than one third of the island Republic of Cyprus. Coming at the height of the Cold War, and at a time of delicate relations between Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and the NATO alliance, Turkey's invasion of Cyprus risked war with NATO member Greece and a resultant rupturing of the NATO alliance.

“Adding insult to injury, the weapons used by the Turkish military to invade Cyprus were those of its NATO benefactors, principally the United States. In 1975, the Congress imposed an arms embargo on Turkey for its offensive use of American weapons. Rather than fulfill its NATO obligations, or follow its legal obligations as demanded by Congress, Turkey retaliated by closing all American military installations on Turkish soil, and by severely restricting American access at two NATO bases. At that time, military installations in Turkey were deemed essential surveillance posts in the Cold War fight against the Soviet Union. Turkey refused to reopen these facilities until the U.S. lifted the arms embargo, signaling that its relationship with the United States was never more than a transactional one, rather than one rooted in a shared commitment to the rule of law, individual liberties, democracy, and collective Western security.”

View Rep. Sarbanes’ full commentary here.

 

AHI Applauds Pipes’ Commentary in The Washington Times

In addition, AHI applauds the commentary by Daniel Pipes titled “Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza” that appeared in the July 19, 2010 edition of The Washington Times. In his commentary, Pipes asks the question, “Is Israel in Gaza really worse than Turkey in Cyprus?” and he proceeds to outline several contrasts leading to the conclusion of “A comparison finds this hardly to be so.” Among many contrasts between Turkey in Cyprus and Israel in Gaza, Pipes cites Turkey’s use of napalm and “spread terror” during its invasion of Cyprus, references a “forced ethnic cleansing” as a result of Turkey’s subsequent occupation of Cyprus, and references Turkey’s illegal settlement of occupied Cyprus with Turkish citizens.

Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum and visiting fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. To view his commentary, click here.


The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit independent Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.

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