Zack Space (D-OH)
July 22, 2008
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Space) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. SPACE. Mr. Speaker, 34 years ago, on July 20, 1974, Turkish troops illegally invaded Cyprus in violation of international law. Thirty-four years have passed since 200,000 Greek Cypriots were expelled from their homes and 5,000 Greek Cypriots were murdered. More than 1,400 still remain missing today. Thirty-four years later, Turkish troops continue to occupy nearly 37 percent of Cypriot territory. There are approximately 43,000 Turkish troops on Cyprus. That's about one Turkish soldier for every two Turkish Cypriots.
The situation remains untenable after 34 years with Greek Cypriots whose homes were taken—the homes where they were raised, where their children were raised, where their parents and grandparents were raised, and where they were never compensated for these homes.
The desecration of the Greek Orthodox churches remains ongoing, many now serving as bars, nightclubs, casinos or hotels. Icons, artifacts and frescoes have been destroyed, looted, vandalized, and sold illegally. Here we are 34 years later, and the situation remains, once again, untenable.
In spite of all of this, the Greek Cypriots have continued to promote peace for 34 years. The Cypriot President is committed to working toward a bicommunal and bizonal federation with a single sovereignty citizenship and international standing.
Indeed, Turkish Cypriots have shown a like commitment. Turkey, however, must show a commitment to this same solution. At a time of increased global destabilization, it is in the best interest of the international community to see that this problem of Cyprus, the injustice in Cyprus, is rectified.
A resolution of this ongoing injustice would, indeed, constitute a reflection of respect for human rights, of the rule of law, of peace and prosperity, of all of these things, which are values that we in this country cherish.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to recognize the importance of this injustice and the need to rectify the same, and I urge the Turkish people to do the same. It is my hope that the need to recognize the anniversary of the invasion, which we do yet again for the 34th time, is someday replaced with a cause to recognize the agreement and reunification of Cyprus.