Congressman Royce Issues a Floor Statement on the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus
Representative Royce says "the continuing Turkish occupation of Cyprus is a major impediment to the goal of reunification."
Turkish Invasion of Cyprus
Thank you, Mr. / Madame Speaker.
Sunday July 20th marked the 34th commemoration of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The 1974 invasion claimed the lives of approximately 5,000 Greek Cypriots, while an additional 200,000 were forcefully expelled from their homes.
Today, as the occupation continues, nearly 36,000 Turkish soldiers—nearly one soldier for every two Turkish Cypriots—are embedded in Cyprus, occupying over 35 percent of the island. This occupied area is one of the most militarized areas in the world.
The Turkish and Greek Cypriots live in relative harmony, making the occupation all the more unacceptable and unnecessary. Turkey's primary goal, it says, is protecting its citizens. But I wonder just what Turkey is protecting them from? There have been no recent incidents of violence between the two communities. In a show of friendship, Ledra Street, which connects Greek and Turkish Cyprus, was recently opened for the first time since 1964. Since Mehmet Ali Talat, the Turkish Cypriot leader, visited Ledra Street, over 13 million Greek and Turkish Cypriots have crossed the border, each time without incident.
In the House, H.Res.620, which I cosponsored, cites these crossings as evidence of the goodwill between the two communities, and refutes the Turkish claims that a military presence is necessary.
What's more perplexing is that the presence of Turkish troops on Cyprus is working against many Turkish interests, as it remains a major sticking point for Turkish accession to the EU, and it continues to damage reunification talks.
As we remember the invasion that split Cyprus in two, it is important to note that there are concrete efforts underway by the heads of the respective communities to reunify. The continuing Turkish occupation is a major impediment to this goal.
Thank you, I yield back.