American Hellenic Institute

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AHI Calls for U.S. to Apply Rule of Law to Turkey
October 15, 1998 No. 44/98


On October 15, 1998, the American Hellenic Institute sent a letter (copy attached) to President William J. Clinton criticizing the Administration for failing to apply the rule of law to Turkey and calling upon the Administration to initiate a new policy toward Turkey.

After commending the Administration for taking vigorous action in defense of international law and American values in Kosovo and the Gulf War, the letter points out that these same principles and values are under attack in Turkey:
*** The military controlled government of Turkey has conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing and repression of its own Kurdish citizens in a war now in its 14th year. During the war, the Turks have killed over 30,000 Kurds and destroyed over 3,000 villages, resulting in 2 million refugees, a toll far exceeding that in Kosovo;
*** In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus and today occupies 37.3% of Cyprus in violation of successive United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

The Administration's continued support of Turkey despite its violations of international law and human rights constitutes a double standard on the application of the rule of law to Turkey and stands in harsh contrast to its readiness to take military action against Serbia and Iraq. The Administration's failure to act against Turkey has turned the United States into an accessory to Turkey's human rights abuses. This is a stain on America's honor.

The letter cites recent examples(Turkey's brinkmanship against Syria, irredentist claims against sovereign Greek territory in the Aegean, Turkish efforts to join the European Union, and criticism of Cyprus' proposed acquisition of the defensive S-300 anti-aircraft system(where the Administration has sided with Turkey's military controlled government rather than with the principles of international law, justice, and American values.

The Administration defends its policy toward Turkey on the premise that the U.S. should support Turkey as a defense against Islamic fundamentalism. This is a false argument. The real divide in Turkey is not between secularism and fundamentalism, but between military rule and democracy. In preferring military rule over democracy the Administration is betraying American values and endangering American interests.

The letter concludes by urging the Administration to abandon its double standard toward Turkey and to draw on President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1956 words during the Suez crisis as the basis for a new approach to Turkey:

"There can be no peace without law. And there can be no law if we invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us and another for our friends."