Washington – Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee submitted an official statement for the Congressional Record today commemorating the 37th Anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus on July 20, 1974. Throughout his career, Senator Menendez has demanded the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from the island and supported a final resolution for Cyprus that adequately addresses all issues, including the issues of property, territory and security.
The following is the text of the statement:
Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, on July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus. Thirty-seven years later, Turkish troops continue to occupy 37 percent of the island. The invasion and occupation resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 Cypriots and made some 200,000 Cypriots refugees in their own land.
Since 1974, more than 75 resolutions have been adopted by the U.N. Security Council and more than 13 by the U.N. General Assembly, calling for the return of the refugees to their homes and properties and for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus. In addition to these Resolutions, the European Court of Human Rights has in various judgments held Turkey responsible for the violation of the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of Greek Cypriots, such as the right to life, the right to liberty and security, the right to respect for family life, the right to the protection of property and the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment.
Building on past meetings in November 2010 and January 2011, President Christofias again this month met with Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Eroglu in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in Geneva, where they agreed to intensify discussions on the difficult “core issues” of the negotiations, including the sharing of power and authority between the two communities of Cyprus, territorial adjustments, property issues, and the issue of the withdrawal of foreign troops and security guarantees. The Cypriot government is working in good faith to achieve a viable agreement and I remain supportive of the Cypriot government’s insistence that this process remain a Cypriot-led process, with any solution agreed upon by the Cypriots and for the Cypriots, without any external arbitration or timeframes, while recognizing that a solution cannot be reached without the full and constructive cooperation of Turkey.
As Cypriot-Americans join with Cypriots from throughout the world in this effort to unify their homeland, and as they seek to secure an economically prosperous state free of illegal occupation, I will stand by them. I will work to ensure that the Turkish occupation comes to an end.
This week, we remember those who perished in the invasion of Cyprus, and honor those who survived and who continue to live under Turkish occupation. We have not forgotten and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.
Remembering together the events of July 20, 1974 in solidarity gives reverence to historical events we cannot afford to forget as we move forward to a peaceful, just solution and a hopeful tomorrow.