NITA M. LOWEY (D-NY)
TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2008
- Mrs. LOWEY. Madam Speaker, today, we sadly commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Turkish occupation of Cyprus. Over a third of a century ago, more than 200,000 Cypriots were driven from their homes and forced to live under foreign occupation. The legacy of this occupation still weighs heavily on the northern third of the island, which remains occupied by Turkish troops. In fact, the Turkish-Cypriot Administered North Cyprus has the dubious distinction of being one of the most militarized areas in the world, with nearly one Turkish soldier for every two Turkish Cypriot.
- A devastating consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus is the tragic humanitarian problem of missing persons. Today, there are more than 1,400 Greek Cypriots still missing as well as four missing Americans. A series of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemn Turkey's invasion and call for the tracing of missing persons. As we mark the 34th year of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus, I encourage all governments involved to adhere to humanitarian principles and international practices regarding the effective investigation of the whereabouts of missing persons.
- While we commemorate the past and our hearts go out to those suffering continuing hardship due to missing loved ones. Positive steps underway could lead to a brighter future for all Cypriots. We are encouraged that, for the first time in five years, both sides are engaging in constructive dialogue. Since March, leaders from the South and North have taken positive steps towards reunification and have met three times. I urge both sides to continue this positive discourse including at a meeting this Friday. I sincerely hope a solution to the Cyprus issue will soon be reached to reuniting the island under a government that safeguards human rights, completes the investigation into the whereabouts of missing persons, and respects the fundamental freedoms of the people as a whole.