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AHI Statement on 39th Anniversary of Turkish Invasion of Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Georgea Polizos
July 17, 2013—No. 45 (202) 785-8430

AHI Statement on 39th Anniversary of Turkish Invasion of Cyprus

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) has issued the following statement on the 39th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of the Republic of Cyprus on July 20, 1974:

Today we remember the solemn 39th anniversary of NATO member Turkey’s brutal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union.

On July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus with the illegal use of U.S.-supplied arms and equipment in violation of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the United Nations Charter, the NATO Treaty, and customary international law. Turkey occupied about four percent of Cyprus during the initial phase of its invasion.  Turkish pilots flying American planes dropped American-made bombs, including napalm bombs, on Greek Cypriot communities.

Furthermore, on August 14, 1974, three weeks after the legitimate government of Cyprus was restored, Turkey launched the second phase of its invasion of Cyprus.  As a result of its two-phase invasion of Cyprus, Turkey grabbed 37 percent of Cyprus’s sovereign territory, killed innocent civilians, raped women ages 12 to 71, forced 170,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and properties, and committed mass destruction of Cyprus’ cultural and religious heritage, including an estimated 500 churches and religious sites belonging to Christian and Jewish communities. In its 2013 annual report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom held Turkey responsible for its actions in the area of Cyprus it occupies.  As a result of Turkey’s invasion, approximately 1,600 Greek Cypriots and five American citizens of Cypriot heritage went missing and a large majority of these cases remain unresolved. 

For 39 years, the people of Cyprus have endured an illegal occupation and massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey, an ally of the United States. During the past year, the people of Cyprus have also endured an economic downturn at the hands of a devastating banking crisis.  Under Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and with the support of Turkey and some international media pundits, the Turkish Cypriot regime has sought to leverage the economic crisis as a means to impose a Cyprus settlement on the Republic of Cyprus thus forcing the people of Cyprus to abandon their principles and terms for a just and viable solution to the division of Cyprus.

Moreover, Turkey’s bellicose threats toward Cyprus continue to intensify.  In addition to the 43,000 illegal Turkish troops occupying the Republic of Cyprus, Turkish threats against Cyprus have been cast because of Cyprus’ exploration for hydrocarbon reserves in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which it is well within its sovereign right to do.

The problem, as well as the solution to the Cyprus issue, rests in Ankara.

The Republic of Cyprus is a valued ally of the U.S. on counter-terrorism and security issues in the eastern Mediterranean.  This has been proven by Cyprus on multiple occasions in the past decade. Cyprus was the first EU nation to sign the United States’ Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). In 2006, 15,000 American citizens were evacuated to Cyprus from Lebanon during the Israel-Lebanon conflict.  Currently, Limassol port is used by U.S. military personnel deployed in the region for R&R.  The Republic of Cyprus also aspires to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace, which allows for cooperation between NATO and non-member countries.  In a June 2013 interview, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus John Koening stated the government of President Nicos Anastasiades is more committed to closer cooperation with the United States than any other previous Cypriot governments.  AHI contends the U.S can play a crucial role in finding a solution to the Cyprus issue by getting realistic with Turkey and eliminating its double-standard policy that has rewarded Turkish aggression and ignored countless violations of the rule of law in Cyprus.

As we mark the solemn 39th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of the Republic of Cyprus, AHI continues 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 key American principles, the EU acquis communautaire and EU Founding Treaty, UN resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European Courts -- as is the best interests of the United States;
  • call for the immediate withdrawal of Turkey’s 43,000 occupation troops illegally in Cyprus;
  • call for the return of the 180,000 illegal Turkish colonists/settlers in Cyprus to Turkey and for a halt to the illegal bringing of more colonists/settlers from Turkey to occupied Cyprus to illegally change the demographics of the island and of the Turkish Cypriot community, all of which is in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949;
  • call for the return of the sealed-off section of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants by Turkey as noted in UN Security Council resolutions 550 (1984) and 789 (1992) and the 1979 High Level Agreement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, which stated that priority should be given to the resettlement of Famagusta under the UN auspices.  This position was recently reaffirmed by the European Parliament in a written declaration issued February 2012;
  • call for the restoration of property illegally taken in the northern-occupied area of Cyprus to their rightful owners, and payment by Turkey to the owners for deprivation of the use of their property;
  • urge passage of H.Res.187, which expresses the United States' commitment to the reunification of the Republic of Cyprus and the establishment of a unified government on Cyprus that guarantees the human rights of all Cypriots and condemns any attempt to use the current economic crisis as a means of imposing a settlement on the people of Cyprus;
  • urge the U.S. government to direct Turkey to tear down the green line barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus that makes Nicosia the last divided capital in Europe;
  • contend Ankara must not manipulate future negotiations on Cyprus;
  • call on Ankara to normalize relations with the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union (a body to which Turkey aspires to join), and as agreed to by Turkey in the Ankara Protocol (which would extend Turkey's customs agreement with the EU by opening its ports to goods from Cyprus).

AHI will commemorate the 39th anniversary of the invasion of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey with a congressional briefing to be held on Capitol Hill, in cooperation with the Hellenic Caucus, July 25, 2013.  Newly-appointed Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. George Chacalli will be the special guest speaker.

The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center and think tank 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 Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.