New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Prominent members of U.S. Congress commemorated the 44th anniversary of the Turkish invasion in Cyprus with messages posted in the social media.
Senator Bob Menendez (D, N.J.) @SenatorMenendez said
“Turkish troops invaded Cyprus on this day 44 years ago, and they are still there. It’s high time to recommit efforts toward a just peace for Cyprus that ends Turkey’s aggression and occupation and upholds Cypriots’ rights.”
Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R, FLA) @RepGusBilirakis said
“This year marks the 44th anniversary of the illegal occupation of Turkish troops in Cyprus, a strong U.S. ally. I call on Turkey to remove its occupying force, cease its inflammatory rhetoric, normalize relations with the Republic of Cyprus, and commit to peaceful coexistence.”
Congressman Brad Schneider (D, CO) @RepSchneider said
“Today marks 44 years since #Turkey invaded #Cyprus and began its illegal occupation. We must continue to advocate for negotiations between the parties to bring a peaceful and just end to this frozen conflict. #Cyprus1974.”
Congressman John Sarbanes (D, MD) @RepSarbanes said
“#Cyprus is an EU member and a strategic partner of the U.S. that can stabilize the Eastern Mediterranean. To do that, #Turkey’s occupation – which began 44 years today – must end.”
Congressman David Cicilline (D, R.I.) @davidcicilline said
“Today marks the 44th anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey. Turkey’s illegal occupation of Cyprus must end. The U.S. and Cyprus are strategic partners and we are committed to a just and lasting reunification of the island.”
Congressman Ted Deutch (D, IL) @RepTedDeutch said
“Today marks 44 years since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. In those years, the US and Cyprus have developed a deep partnership built on democratic values and mutual strategic interests. Erdogan’s Turkey must not stand in the way of a just and lasting solution for Cyprus.”
NY State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas @AravellaSimotas said
“Today marked 44 years since the Turkish occupation of #Cyprus. We must never forget or give up the fight. #JusticeforCyprus @HellenicLeaders .“
AJC’s Executive Director David Harris @DavidHarrisAJC said
“Turkish Pres. Erdogan shouldn’t be let off the hook for Turkey’s occupation & colonization of northern #Cyprus, which began #OTD in 1974. Why is there so little outcry about this illegal act? Why oes he get a pass? How much longer will this beautiful island nation be divided?”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said
“Today marks 44 years since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. We stand in solidarity with #Cyprus on this dark anniversary and renew our call to end the occupation of northern Cyprus.”
Author Steven A. Cook @stevenacook was pretty pessimistic in his message:
44 years ago today, #Turkey invaded Cyprus. Not much chance of reuniting the island…”
MESSAGE FROM HALC’s
The American public has finally started coming to terms with which Turkey they are dealing with. Holding American citizens – including Pastor Brunson – hostage, buying S400s from Russia, coordinating with Russia and Iran in Syria, bombing the Kurds when they are taking the fight to ISIS; these transgressions only begin to fill the bill of indictment against Turkey.
But no one should be surprised. 44 years ago today, one of the greatest crimes in our lifetime — Turkey’s invasion of #Cyprus — began. Some will try to convince you that this was an “intervention”, but they will have no answer when you press them on the second wave of the invasion, the war crimes that accompanied both waves, and the human rights violations and illegal acts that have followed for 44 years.
At the end of the Conference on Cyprus last year, the UN Secretary General declared a goal of a reunified Cyprus as a “normal country.” What “normal country” is subject to the presence of a foreign army that has invaded it, murdered its citizens, ethnically cleansed a large part of its territory? “Normal” by definition requires no Turkish troops, no Turkish guarantees — not for ten years, not for five years, not for any period of time.
Those who have failed to call out the invasion and occupation, those who describe it but don’t have the courage to use the words “invasion” and “occupation”, and those who treat the Cyprus problem as mostly a bi-communal issue are all complicit in this 44 year crime. Turkey’s ability to avoid accountability for what it has done in Cyprus provided Russia with the blueprint for Crimea. And until Cyprus is solved with a just, workable and lasting solution, there will be more Cyprus’s and Crimeas.
Today, we recommit to helping establish the Cyprus of the future, one that is free of the legacy of 1974.
Hellenic American Leadership Council
AMERICAN HELLENIC INSTITUTE
The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) remembers the solemn 44th anniversary of NATO member Turkey’s brutal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union.
For 44 years, the Republic of Cyprus, and its people, have endured an illegal occupation by 40,000 Turkish troops, and massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey. AHI calls for the immediate removal of all Turkish troops that occupy the Republic of Cyprus. Also, during the occupation, Turkey continues to violate U.S. law on an ongoing basis by transferring American-made weapons from mainland Turkey to Turkish-occupied Cyprus. Congress must put a stop to this illegal transfer of weapons or otherwise it is complicit in breaking its own laws. Additionally, Turkey’s illegal occupation of Cyprus has had an impact upon The Committee on Missing Persons’s ability to access certain Turkish military installations on Cyprus to excavate the remains of Cypriots missing since the tragic events that occurred on the island for proper identification. Approximately 926 Greek Cypriots, including four American citizens of Cypriot heritage, remain missing and a large majority of these cases remain unresolved.
Furthermore, Turkey’s threats and inflammatory rhetoric toward Cyprus are unacceptable and clearly demonstrate it is a force of instability in the Eastern Mediterranean. In addition to the Turkish troops illegally occupying the Republic of Cyprus, Turkish threats toward Cyprus (and Greece and international oil companies) have included Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warning to “not step out of line” when it comes to energy exploration in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone. In February, the threat was taken to new, dangerous heights when Turkish warships harassed the surveying vessel of Italian oil company Eni while it was in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus and threatened to sink the vessel.
Following last year’s disappointing closure of the Conference on Cyprus held in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, the United States must step-up its engagement on the Cyprus issue. AHI contends the United States can play a crucial role in finding a Cyprus solution by getting realistic with Turkey and eliminating its double-standard policy that has rewarded Turkish aggression and ignored countless violations of the rule of law in Cyprus. The U.S. must publicly state that Turkey must remove its troops from Cyprus. The withdrawal of Turkish troops would be a significant confidence building measure in the peace process. As such, any positive resolution cannot be foreseen until United States policymakers press Turkey to forgo its intransigence, which was on full display at the Conference on Cyprus, last July. There, Turkey’s insistence to maintain the Treaty of Guarantee, which would allow for future unilateral Turkish military interventions, was completely unacceptable and contradicted the governing principals of a European Union member state.
Moreover, this is not the Cyprus of 44 years ago. Cyprus has made tremendous strides and is viewed today by the United States as a geostrategic partner because of its commitment to counterterrorism and security, as a signatory to the United States’ Proliferation Security Initiative; its potential as a resource for energy, and as Cyprus strengthens relations with Israel. Turkey’s threats and gunboat diplomacy only serves to hinder Cyprus’s further development as key contributor to security in the Eastern Mediterranean, the broader region, and Europe.
AHI maintains the Cypriots themselves should have ownership of the settlement process and the solution should be by the Cypriot people for the Cypriot people. Advancing these positions will underscore support for the rule of law and respect for international law. It will demonstrate the United States’ dedication to solving the 44-year-old Cyprus problem.
Therefore, as we mark the 44th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of the Republic of Cyprus, AHI continues to:
Support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi communal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing key American principles, the EU acquis communautaire and EU Founding Treaty, UN resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European Courts — as is the best interests of the United States;
Call for the immediate withdrawal of Turkey’s 40,000 occupation troops illegally in Cyprus;
Call for the return of the estimated at least 200,000 illegal Turkish colonists/settlers in Cyprus to Turkey and for a halt to the illegal bringing of more colonists/settlers from Turkey to occupied Cyprus to illegally change the demographics of the island and of the Turkish Cypriot community, all of which is in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949;
Call for the return of the sealed-off section of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants by Turkey as noted in UN Security Council resolutions 550 (1984) and 789 (1992) and the 1979 High Level Agreement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, which stated that priority should be given to the resettlement of Famagusta under the UN auspices. This position has been reaffirmed by the European Parliament in written declarations;
Call for the restoration of property illegally taken in the northern-occupied area of Cyprus to their rightful owners, and payment by Turkey to the owners for deprivation of the use of their property;
Urge the U.S. government to direct Turkey to tear down the green line barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus that makes Nicosia the last divided capital in Europe; and
Urge the U.S. government to call on Ankara to normalize relations with the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union (a body to which Turkey aspires to join).
Supreme President Carl R. Hollister has issued a statement on the 44th anniversary of the illegal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey that occurred July 20, 1974, and subsequent illegal occupation:
“Today we observe a somber day-the 44th anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus by the Republic of Turkey, a NATO-member country. This was, and remains to this very day, an intolerable act; one that is a gross violation of the rule of law, human rights, and democratic ideals. We pause to remember the innocent civilians who lost their lives and the individuals who went missing, including five American citizens, four of whose investigations remain incomplete. The illegal invasion and occupation caused the displacement of at least 180,000 Greek Cypriot refugees who to this day are unable to return to their homes which is also a violation of human rights as determined by the European Commission on Human Rights. Moreover, Turkey’s restrictions upon religious freedom and destruction of Cyprus’ cultural and religious heritage in Turkish-occupied Cyprus have been well-documented by the U.S. Helsinki Commission, the Law Library of Congress, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and several media publications.
“With the appointment of a new United Nations envoy, it is our hope the two sides resume their dialogue and work to resolve difficult issues, especially regarding security and guarantees. Further, Turkish intransigence, which clearly was evident at the Conference on Cyprus last year (our statement), must be forsaken. Turkey must abandon its insistence to be a Guarantor Power of a reunified Cyprus, essentially the right to intervene, especially as the security of all Cypriots in a unified, EU-member Cyprus would be provided by the EU. Again, we urge the U.S. government to convey a strong message to Turkey that it must play a constructive role in the movement of confidence-building measures, which includes the removal of 40,000 Turkish troops from the island. We contend these troops would serve a better purpose elsewhere, especially to NATO, as opposed to Cyprus.
“Further, we restate our call for a reunified Cyprus with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship; and with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded as described in the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. We contend such a solution is in the best interest of all Cypriots and must emanate from Cypriots themselves without arbitrary timetables.
“These actions are in the best interests of the United States, which has conveyed appreciation for the ‘strategic partnership’ it has with the Republic of Cyprus. A just and viable solution to the division of Cyprus will strengthen the Eastern Mediterranean and bring peace and security to the region. This is especially important due to the discovery and potential exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves within the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus by multinational energy firms, including American ones, that could provide Europe with energy security. However, Turkey has wasted no time taking threatening measures toward Cyprus and the multinational energy companies that rightfully intend to explore within Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.
“We state adamantly 44 years is too long. Our hope is that we will no longer need to observe this ‘black anniversary,’ but instead, celebrate the anniversary of a settlement. AHEPA remains committed to doing all within its power, and pledges to continue to work with all organizations, to keep the Cyprus issue in the public eye until a just and viable solution that benefits all Cypriots is realized.”