Washington, D.C.- Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Mike Bilirakis and Representative Carolyn Maloney sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed by 63 Members of Congress expressing concerns about the consequences of her extending a formal invitation to Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, the so-called “president” of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), and asking her to define her long-term plan for Cyprus.
In the letter, Members of Congress also applauded efforts by the Republic of Cyprus to improve the economic situation of the Cypriot Turkish community and asked for Secretary Rice to define her long term plan for Cyprus.
Despite U.S. claims to the contrary, observers in Cyprus and in Washington, D.C. remain concerned that the meeting may be misrepresented as an attempt to politically elevate the status of the representative of the Cypriot Turkish community.
“Your action was inconsistent with one United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution which calls on nations to extend no support to the ‘TRNC,’” the letter reads. “More dangerously”, the letter adds, it emboldens the Turkish Cypriot illegal entity not to negotiate in good faith for a reunification of Cyprus; it instead encourages a separate status for the occupied area. “We believe that formal dealings with Mr. Talat render our non-recognition policy meaningless”, the members emphasize.
The letter also noted that the Republic of Cyprus has already taken bold steps to improve the economic situation of the Cypriot Turks. The Cypriot government has invested almost $1 billion in aid and assistance to the Cypriot Turks, including more than $43 million in social insurance, more than $9 million in medical care, and more than $343 million in free electricity. The Republic of Cyprus is also working to bring the two communities together by unilaterally removing landmines in the cease-fire zone and calling the Turkish occupation army to reciprocate.
Further, the letter asked Secretary Rice to “please explain your long term plan for Cyprus and where you intend to take United States foreign policy with respect to Cyprus.”
The Embassy of Cyprus in the United States offered its thanks and appreciation to members.
Euripides L. Evriviades, Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S., said of the visit and the expression of Congressional concerns that followed: “I believe we all have the same goal – to find a solution to the division of Cyprus and to improve the situation of all Cypriots. We must, however, be sure that these efforts are carried out in a way that promotes reunification and does not further the division. We thank the members of the United States Congress who recognize that the road to reunification is a difficult one but achievable, especially now that Cyprus is an EU member and Turkey aspires to become one”.
“The support of Representatives Bilirakis and Maloney, and their colleagues, is invaluable and greatly appreciated,” he added.