JULY 22, 2008

  • Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, Turkish Cypriots in the northern region of Cyprus mark every July 20th as the anniversary of Turkey's military intervention in that country in 1974. In fact, as part of the "Peace and Freedom Day'' celebration this year, the Turkish Naval Frigate "Gelibolu'' reportedly anchored off the northern region of Cyprus and the "Turkish Stars''—Turkey's military jet acrobatics team—performed in the skies over northern Cyprus.
  • For over three decades, significant international efforts have been undertaken to peacefully reunify the island nation of Cyprus. The new Cypriot government is currently working hard to engage with the leadership of the Turkish Cypriots and find a way to end the division of Cyprus, once and for all. Nevertheless, a date for new reunification talks has yet to be set, barricades still stand across the island, and the government of Turkey continues to withhold its public support for the talks and has yet to remove its military presence on Cyprus.
  • Madam Speaker, these displays this past weekend by the Turkish military are unproductive, coming, as they do, at a time when the status of Cyprus remains in limbo. Cyprus cannot remain a divided island with a divided people.
  • Congress last year adopted House Resolution 405, a measure I was proud to cosponsor, which emphasized that the reunification of Cyprus should be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. Other responsible nations have also stressed that such a reunification should include a single sovereignty and a single citizenship, with the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus safeguarded. It is commendable that some steps have recently been taken towards establishment of such a solution.
  • On May 23rd, the President of Cyprus and a designated representative for the Turkish Cypriot community—issued a joint statement in which they reaffirmed their commitment to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. Both sides also recently agreed to reopen a crossing point at Ledra Street in Nicosia, a key thoroughfare through that divided capital that has been closed for over 40 years. So there is some movement, but much remains to be done. There must be a solution that will end the occupation, reunite the island, and restore and safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Cypriot people as a whole.
  • I suggest that a more fitting celebration this year of the so-called "Peace and Freedom Day'' that I mentioned at the start of my remarks would consist of an announcement of the resumption comprehensive talks on reunification and a public expression of support for those negotiations. At some point soon, the final parade of Turkish troops should be their permanent departure from the island of Cyprus and the removal of all Turkish military forces there.