Albio Sires (D-NJ)

July 22, 2008


   The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Sires) is recognized for 5 minutes.

   Mr. SIRES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus, also known as the Black Anniversary. The occupation of Cyprus is an injustice that has gone on for too long, and the Cyprus question can no longer be ignored.

   I am encouraged by meetings over the last several months between President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Talat. Their efforts to implement the July 2006 agreement are helping to lay the framework for talks about a final solution to the Cyprus question. With the recent establishment of working groups and technical committees to discuss substantive and day-to-day issues between the communities, I am hopeful that the meeting on July 25 between President Christofias and Talat will bring about full negotiations.

   Mr. Speaker, 13 million crossings have taken place between the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot communities without incident, and yet, there are still 43,000 Turkish troops on the island. That is one Turkish troop for every two Turkish Cypriots.

   Last year, I introduced House Resolution 620, expressing the sense of the House that Turkey should end its occupation of the Republic of Cyprus. I believe this is an occupation that has divided Cyprus and the Cypriot people for far too long. This occupation stands in the way of a final solution to the Cyprus question, as well as Turkey's accession into the European Union.

   Mr. Speaker, last November I led a congressional delegation to Greece and Cyprus where I toured the buffer zone in Nicosia. I saw the barbed wire, and I saw with my own eyes an area where time has stood still for 34 years. As we rise today to commemorate the events of July 20, 1974, we must remain committed to working together to end the occupation and to bring down the 113 miles of barbed wire fence that continue to divide Cyprus.