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AHI Rebuts Congressman’s Floor Statement Recognizing Turkey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Demetra Atsaloglou
May 15, 2012—No. 33 (202) 785-8430

AHI Rebuts Congressman’s Floor Statement Recognizing Turkey

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) issues the following statement in rebuttal to U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield’s (R-KY) statement on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives that praised the Republic of Turkey on May 9, 2012. Congressman Whitfield is a co-chair of the Congressional Turkish Caucus.

“Congressman Whitfield’s statement in praise of Turkey, which was entered into the Congressional Record, is off-base on many accounts,” said AHI President Nick Larigakis.

“First, the congressman commends Turkey for standing continuously with the United States ‘in our efforts to promote democracy and freedom throughout the world’ as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“AHI has consistently maintained that Turkey is an unreliable ally of the United States, which is clearly evident in Turkey’s actions not just in the present day but throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.  This was clearly evident on numerous occasions during the Cold War as Turkey undermined NATO’s efforts by actively aiding the Soviet military to the serious detriment of the United States and continued with Turkey’s refusal to allow the United States to use bases in Turkey to open a northern front against the Saddam Hussein dictatorship in 2003.

“In addition, policy experts, including most recently Daniel Pipes, who is the president of the Middle East Forum, have expressed the opinion that Turkey’s NATO membership should be either suspended or terminated based upon its actions with China, opposition to Libya, and the pressure it has applied on the NATO establishment to place Turkish officials in key positions.

“Secondly, it is unacceptable for a member of Congress to praise a nation such as Turkey for ‘promoting democracy throughout the region’ when Turkey remains in violation of the rule of law and disrespect of international law and basic human rights for its invasion and thirty-eight year illegal occupation of the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union that will assume its presidency on July 1.

“Finally, Congressman Whitfield touts Turkey’s ‘increased efforts to support religious minorities in its own boarders,’ citing decrees it has issued for the return of properties to non-Muslim communities.

“Clearly, the congressman chose to conveniently ignore the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2012 Annual Report which designated Turkey a ‘country of particular concern’ meaning the Turkish government has engaged in, or has tolerated, particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The Commission’s annual report specifically cited Turkey’s policies that deny non-Muslim communities the right to train clergy, including the closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology; officially do not accord the ecclesiastical title “ecumenical” to the Ecumenical Patriarch, interfere in the internal governance of the Greek Orthodox community, and retain the power to expropriate religious minority properties.

“The congressman should instead call for the enforcement of the International Religious Freedom Act, under which the president of the United States is obligated to oppose violations of religious freedom in any country whose government ‘engages in or tolerates violations of religious freedom and promote the right to religious freedom in that country’ and obligates the president to take one or more of 15 enumerated actions with respect to any such country.”

The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit 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 Demetra Atsaloglou at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.