JULY 23, 2008

  • Mr. KNOLLENBERG. Madam Speaker, today marks the 34th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and I want to remind all of my colleagues of the ongoing Turkish occupation.
  • We cannot let the passage of time diminish the events of 1974, nor can we ignore the human rights violations by Turkey that continue today. For more than 34 years the United States and United Nations, as well as European nations, have lamented Turkey's 1974 invasion and subsequent occupation of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey's poor treatment of Greek-Cypriots living in the occupied area, and its desecration of Christian churches, is without justification.
  • In July, 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus in complete violation of international law and is currently occupying approximately 37 percent of Cyprus' territory. Nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots were forced from their homes, making them refugees in their own country. A large portion of those homes were unlawfully given over to thousands of illegal settlers from Turkey, whom are still there today.
  • During the Turkish invasion, Cyprus's main town in Famagusta was bombarded and the entire population was forced to flee their homes in fear, never to return again. The Turkish forces sealed off the city with barbed wire fences and this is how it remains today. Since 1974, more than 75 resolutions have been adopted by the U.N. Security Council and more than 13 by the General Assembly, calling for the return of the refugees to their homes and properties. These resolutions are being ignored by Turkey, which continues to violate the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Greek Cypriots.
  • Since 1974, U.N. Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, as well as resolutions adopted by numerous other international organizations, and resolutions we in Congress have passed, reflect the universal condemnation of Turkey's invasion and all subsequent acts of aggression against Cyprus.
  • The United States and Cyprus share a deep and abiding commitment to upholding the ideals of freedom, democracy, and human rights. The international community has a moral and ethical obligation to stand with Cypriots to reunify their island and end the military occupation.
  • Cyprus's goal is the reunification of the island as a bicommunal and bizonal federation with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots and the withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces. President Demetris Christofias is committed to negotiating in good faith in order to achieve a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979 and the values and principles on which the EU is founded.
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  • It is my sincere hope that as we honor the 34th anniversary of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus that we are closer to the end of the occupation than to the beginning.