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AHI Issues Statement on 42nd Anniversary of Invasion of Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Georgea Polizos
July 19, 2016—No. 32 (202) 785-8430

AHI Issues Statement on 42nd Anniversary of Invasion of Cyprus

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) remembers the solemn 42nd 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 2016 annual report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom held Turkey responsible for actions that denied individuals access to houses of “houses of worship, cemeteries, and other historical and cultural sites” in the northern area of Cyprus it occupies.  As a result of Turkey’s invasion, approximately 1,500 Greek Cypriots and four American citizens of Cypriot heritage remain missing and a large majority of these cases remain unresolved.  This is because the Turkish government will not allow excavations to occur in areas where the missing may be found or allow access to data and archives held by the Turkish military.

For 42 years, the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union, and its people, have endured an illegal occupation and massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States. Moreover, Turkey’s threats and inflammatory rhetoric toward Cyprus are a disappointment.  In addition to the 43,000 illegal Turkish troops occupying the Republic of Cyprus, Turkish threats against Cyprus have been clearly evident.  As evidence of Turkey’s incendiary rhetoric, AHI recalls then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s November 2013 comment, “There is no country named Cyprus. There is the local administration of south Cyprus.” Now, in the aftermath of an attempted coup, Turkey’s future path is an unstable one.  In addition, as AHI has repeatedly asserted in the past, Turkey is an unreliable ally made even more so now that its military is fractured after last week’s attempted coup.

Cyprus: A Valued Ally  

The Republic of Cyprus is a valued ally of the U.S. on counter-terrorism and security issues in the eastern Mediterranean.  This was validated by Vice President Joe Biden, who during his historic visit to Cyprus in May 2014, described the U.S.-Cyprus relationship as now “a genuine, strategic partnership” that “holds even greater promise.” Vice President Biden acknowledged Cyprus’s role in support of the mission to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria and to help prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Since his visit to Cyprus, the vice president has publically stated Turkish troops should be removed from the island, which AHI applauded.

During 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.

The United States’ sustained, high-level engagement on Cyprus that commenced with the vice president’s 2014 visit and has continued with visits by Secretary of State John Kerry, and most recently, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, is applauded by the community—as are the briefings Vice President Biden, U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Doherty and other State Department officials have held with community leaders.  However, 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. It is important for the United States to pressure Turkey to not manipulate the current talks or restrict Mr. Akinci at the negotiating table. If Mr. Akinci is unable to negotiate freely on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots, it will be because he is subject to external pressures from Turkey. As such, any positive resolutions cannot be foreseen until United States policymakers press Turkey to let the negotiations play out and to stop being an obstacle to peace. The Cypriots themselves should have ownership of the settlement process and the solution should be by the Cypriot people for the Cypriot people. Advancing these positions will underscore support for the rule of law and respect for international law.  It will demonstrate the United States’ dedication to solving the 42-year-old Cyprus problem.

As we mark the solemn 42nd 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 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 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; and
  • urge the U.S. government to 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).

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 atpr@ahiworld.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org and follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC.