JULY 22, 2008

  • Mr. McGOVERN. Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor and remember those Cypriots who lost their lives defending the Republic of Cyprus during the 1974 military coup against the democratically elected government of Archbishop Makarios, who was then President of Cyprus.
  • This military coup paved the way for the Turkish invasion of Cyprus five days later that resulted in the occupation of 37 percent of the Republic's territory. Nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots were expelled from their homes and an estimated 5,000 were killed. More than 1,400 Greek Cypriots, including four Americans of Cypriot descent, remain missing since the Turkish invasion, their fate still unaccounted for.
  • The repercussions of this terrible day are still in play today, affecting the lives of every Cypriot, European policy, and the actions of the United Nations and international community. The so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus'' is recognized as legitimate by no nation other than Turkey. With more than 40,000 Turkish troops illegally stationed on the island, it is one of the most militarized areas in the world.
  • However, on this day when we pause to remember this violent act against the people of Cyprus, we also have hope that a genuine and long-lasting peace may be restored and families reunited. In 2004, Cyprus' accession to the European Union triggered a process of economic and social integration between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Since the partial lifting of restrictions along the cease-fire line by the Turkish forces in April 2003, there have been over 13 million incident-free crossings by Greek and Turkish Cypriots. More than 60,000 Turkish Cypriots have received Cypriot passports or other official documents, allowing Turkish Cypriots to travel, work or reside in any European Union country.
  • More importantly, however, is the commitment of the Cyprus government to achieving a solution to healing the division of Cyprus . Such a solution should be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.
  • Since his election in February 2008, the current president of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias.