JULY 22, 2008

  • Mr. GALLEGLY. Madam Speaker, this past weekend marked the 34th anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus by Turkish forces. During the war, approximately 5,000 Cypriots were killed and close to 200,000 Greek Cypriots were forcibly removed from their homes. This anniversary also marks another year in which Cyprus is divided between north and south and between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.
  • However, despite 34 years of division in Cyprus, I am more optimistic today about reaching a just and lasting settlement than I have been in many years. In February of this year, the Greek Cypriots elected a new president, Demetrius Christofias. Immediately following his election, President Christofias followed through on his commitment to make the solution of the Cyprus problem his top priority.
  • President Christofias found a willing partner in Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Talat. The leaders of the two main Cypriot communities met on March 21 for the purpose of trying to implement the provisions of the U.N.-brokered July 8, 2006 agreement. This agreement, which sets forth a framework for negotiations with the objective of trying to achieve the unification of Cyprus based on a bizonal, bi-communal federation and political equality, as set out in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The March 21 meeting also established a number of Working Groups and Technical Committees, as described in the July 8 agreement, in order to prepare the ground for full-fledged negotiations leading to a comprehensive and durable settlement.
  • The two leaders have already met on three occasions and will meet again on July 25 when they will review the progress of the Working Groups and Technical Committees. It is my hope that both leaders can agree to move forward and begin full-fledged negotiations.
  • The House of Representatives has already voiced its strong support for comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue. On October 9, 2007, the House on a voice vote passed House Resolution 405, which expressed its support for the immediate implementation of the July 8, 2006 agreement as the way forward to prepare for new comprehensive negotiations leading to the reunification of Cyprus within a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. In addition, the resolution called upon the United States Government to fully support the immediate implementation this agreement in its entirety.
  • I believe the time is right for a permanent settlement in Cyprus. We have two leaders—President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Talat—who are ready and willing to reach an agreement. I also believe that the people of Cyprus, whether Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot or members of the other ethnic groups on the island, recognize that a settlement leading to a reunified Cyprus will help lead the way to a future of peace and prosperity.