New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Senate majority leader Charles Schumer, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Greg Meeks and over twenty of the most powerful members of the Senate and the House of Representatives spoke or send pre-recorded messages at the 36th Annual PSEKA Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference, that took place virtually on July 20, 2021.
Foreign minister of Cyprus Nicos Christodoulides and Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis also addressed the conference, along with AJC’s CEO David Harris, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and leaders of Greek American and Cypriot American organizations.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed the strong bonds between the United States and the people of Cyprus and greeted the participation at the conference of Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides.
Noting the participation of Senator Menendez and 25 members of Congress at the PSEKA conference, Speaker Pelosi said that it aims to the strengthening US- Cyprus relations, in the face of Turkish intransigence.
“For too long barbed wire is dividing the island… I was very interested to hear the foreign minister’s clear presentation on Varosha beach. The situation is worsening there, with the President of Turkey in Cyprus to highlight the Varosha beach, a violation of the international agreements”. Pelosi said.
In concluding, Speaker Pelosi expressed support for a comprehensive unification plan that considers all the people of Cyprus, while speaking about the Cyprus – US relations she said that the United States looks forward to continue strengthening the strategic partnership.
“We had a lot of excitement when we started building the EASTMED Partnership Act and we have to strengthen it in the sectors of energy and mutual security”, she pointed out, noting that this is to the interest of the United States. She also advocated for a U.S. role in the trilateral partnership of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
In his remarks the Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez characterized the illegal invasion of Cyprus by Turkey “one of the darkest days in the history of Eastern Mediterranean”, paying tribute to the thousands who lost their lives and that tens of thousands who lost their homes.
“Turkey’s illegal invasion of Cyprus marks the start of an illegal occupation that still continues to this day and remains the source of instability on the island”, Menendez said, stressing that the situation on the ground appears to be worse.
“We are living in one of the lowest points in history of the region, since the occupation began, 47 years ago”, pointing out that Turkey and its president Tayyip Erdogan have made Ankara’s motivation clear.
“They have no interest in a bizonal bicommunal federation. On the contrary, the so called “government in the north” is now explicitly calling for two states on the island of Cyprus. That is not acceptable”.
Menendez characterized it “a very dangerous development” that cannot be ignored or written off as simply Erdogan’s quest for political gain back at home. He noted that he raised the issue earlier on Tuesday, during a hearing at the Foreign Relations Committee and stressed that “if the Turkish Cypriots successfully change the terms of negotiations, if they successfully normalize a two – state model as the basis for talks, then the prospects for peace will grow even dimmer. We cannot let that happen”.
He called Erdogan’s plan for Varosha a slap in the face of everything the United Nations and the international community has tried to accomplish since the start of the occupation.
“It is a disgrace and it needs to be consequences. This call for two states on the island is simply wrong and flies in the face of the international law”, Menendez said, underlying that it is dangerous and it ignores years of efforts by the international community.
“It is incumbent on us to make sure the world is watching and that Ankara is held accountable”, Menendez said, describing the letter he initiated to President Biden, signed also by thirteen other Senators.
Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Global Human Rights Subcommittee Chris Smith
This year marks the 47th anniversary of Turkey’s barbaric invasion of Cyprus. Injustice need not be forever and the passage of time in no way mitigates the egregious wrong committed by Turkey, so together we continue to condemn not only the initial aggression but the cruel occupation of Cyprus as well…
That said, it is tremendously important that we use this occasion as well to celebrate Cyprus and its amazingly resilient people. Today, Cyprus is a critically important partner of the United States and our allies in Eastern and Mediterranean. US Cypress relations have never been stronger.
Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Global Health Subcommittee, Senator Chris Van Hollen
47 years of occupation is 47 years too long for all Cypriots and we must redouble our efforts to end this unacceptable situation…We can and must demand an end to the Turkish occupation and bring about a just solution …We must also make very clear to President Erdoğan that any attempt to resettle Varosha, which would be a gross violation of UN resolutions and international law, will be met with stiff US sanctions, and we should work with our EU partners to do the same.
As we pursue our mission to achieve justice on the island, we must also continue our efforts to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus. The good news is that our relationship is getting stronger by the day. Cyprus is a key strategic partner in the region, bolstering security and serving as a bridge between the United States and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jack Reed
The relationship between our two countries has never been stronger. Ever since we signed the Statement of Intent on bilateral security cooperation in 2018, our security partnership has continued to deepen. We have benefited from this through our joint military exercises, joint training to improve maritime security and cybersecurity, port visits by US Navy vessels to Cyprus, and breaking ground on the $5 million Cyprus Center for Land, Open-sea, and Port Security regional training center, which focuses on border security and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Chair, House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Rosa DeLauro
Let us focus on the growing importance of Cyprus US relations and elevating them in a tangible, strategic and results oriented manner, which has been a conscious choice made by the Cyprus government in the past several years, a choice that I applaud them for making.
A core pillar of the reorientation of Cyprus foreign policy has been the advancement of Cyprus US relations and its evolution into a strategic partnership. This shift has been a meaningful, substantial one yielding mutual benefits for Cyprus and the United States, as well as for the region, which constitutes a critical strategic space….And today, because of our country’s joint efforts, I am pleased to say that Cyprus US relations have never been stronger.
Senate Majority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer
We join together to affirm the essential partnership between Cyprus and the United States…I’m deeply grateful for Cyprus’s friendship over the decades. Together, we have created economic opportunities, worked together to maintain security and peace in the Mediterranean, and laid the groundwork for our countries to keep working together in the years to come.
Chairman, Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Chris Coons
I’m encouraged by the strengthening of US-Cyprus ties…The United States is grateful to have another valuable partner in the Eastern Med…Thanks to Cyprus’ support, our US Armed Forces have enjoyed a resupply point for our Navy ships in the Indian Ocean at the Port of Limassol, access to airfields for emergency landings and joint search and rescue exercises.
Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations International Development Subcommittee Senator Ben Cardin
As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have witnessed the growing importance of Cyprus as a strategic partner for the United States, often serving as a bridge between three continents in the region….We must continue building bilateral relations between our two nations, and we must view our relationship holistically…These ties will help further cooperation between Cyprus and the United States in many areas where our interests are aligned, including clean energy and environmental sustainability, high tech business ventures and joint research into cutting edge technology.
Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Cybersecurity Subcommittee, Senator Ed Markey
The US-Cyprus partnership is one of the most important and reliable strategic relationships for the United States. Our partnership is based on a genuine friendship, and is centered on our mutual interest in tackling a complex set of issues facing both Europe and the Middle East…Cyprus has always been and remains an invaluable bridge in helping to navigate the diplomatic landscape at the crossroads of East and West. Through difficult circumstances and intimidation from its neighbor, Cyprus has consistently leaned into regional cooperation and peaceful resolutions of disagreements… the United States is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Cyprus.
House Foreign Affairs Europe Subcommittee Member, Congressman David Cicilline
The President and his team know that Turkey has been uncompromising on Cyprus. That its moves on Varosha are an illegal provocation, and that Turkey must commit to the rule of law for there to be stability in the region…I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to strengthen that relationship and build even greater cooperation between our two countries.
Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Europe Subcommittee, Senator Jeanne Shaheen
I am so pleased to join you all today to celebrate the important and deepening relationship between Cyprus and the United States…[pulled from later in the video:] Cyprus has proven to be a stable, efficient, reliable security provider and a part of the world in dire need of stability. President Biden has signaled that his administration is eager for more active engagement in the region. And as vice president, he was one of the first to acknowledge and highlight the strategic necessity of our bilateral partnership. I look forward to working with the administration to push our country’s relationship to new heights.
Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Counterterrorism Subcommittee, Senator Chris Murphy
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I’m deeply invested in all of the work that we do both with Greece on a bilateral basis and with our NATO partner, Cyprus…There’s a really important partnership that we can have both with Greece and with Cyprus to make sure that we have a coordinated strategy to help our friends and allies develop their own energy resources.
Senate Majority Whip, Senator Richard Durbin
We must not give up pressure and hope on the peaceful reunification of Cyprus. Let me also recognize the growing relationship between Cyprus and the United States…Our state department noted earlier this year that cooperation between the United States and Cyprus is at “an historic high.”
Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Middle East Subc. / Co-Chair, Congressional Hellenic Israeli Alliance, Congressman Ted Deutch
As we mark the solemn recognition of the 47th anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus, I also remain hopeful that serious diplomatic re-engagement from the Biden administration can lead to renewed United Nations talks. Talks that will hopefully bring the reunification of Cyprus. Nonetheless, we will continue to move the US Cyprus bilateral relationship forward. It’s important. It’s an issue that president Biden knows well, and I have no doubt that his administration, as well as the United States Congress will continue to support the strengthening of the US Cyprus relationship…we’re not going to tolerate Turkey’s continued provocations towards Cyprus or other regional partners as well.
Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Congressman Albio Sires
I am proud to support the relationship between our two nations…In the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus has been a reliable partner in countering some of the destabilizing actors. While Cyprus certainly faces challenges, there are more opportunities for progress, which is why we must continue to pursue peace in the region and build our cultural, security, and economic ties.
Co-Chair, House Republican Israeli Caucus / House Foreign Affairs Committee Member. Congressman Lee Zeldin
…Cyprus have been staunch allies of the United States on the front lines, staring down a region of our world, plagued by stalwart authoritarian regimes, state sponsored terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. They’ve consistently fought back and defended their respective citizens against overt aggression from their hostile neighbors…US, Cyprus relations has never been stronger and we have a strategic and moral responsibility to ensure that Cypress has everything it needs to remain a beacon of freedom in that region.
Co-Chair, Congressional Hellenic Israeli Alliance / Co-Chair, Congressional Hellenic Caucus, Congressman Gus Bilirakis
The Republic of Cyprus has been a steadfast ally and Cypriots of all backgrounds deserve an end to the senseless division of their homeland…Ending the illegal occupation of Cyprus would safeguard the country’s independence while amplifying its bridge-building capacity, further stabilizing and bringing peace to the region. All the which will make Cyprus and even better ally…Congress will not turn a blind eye to Turkey’s regional aggression or pursuit of policies that threaten US interests or that of our partners…We need to continue to hold Turkey accountable, especially during today when it threatens Cypriot regional unification with its actions in Varosha.
Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs International Organizations Subcommittee Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis
The bilateral relationship between the United States and Cyprus, is so important. Whether it be trade, whether it be military support, whether it be standing up and standing with Cyprus, to ensure that international laws are being followed. The United States must continue to be an ally of the people of Cyprus, and ensure that we advocate for the reunification of Cyprus.
Co-Founder & Co-Chair, Congressional Hellenic Caucus, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
I remain committed to ensuring Cyprus’s independence, to strengthening the United States Alliance with Cyprus and to supporting efforts in Congress to defend its stability and sovereignty…Our partnership with our ally Cyprus is of strategic and cultural significance, that advances global interest in security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean.…Of course, we know Cyprus faces threats with an ever-growing aggression from Turkey. Particularly with recent actions by Turkey related to Varosha. We know that it will take a United effort from Congress, the administration, and the international community to speak out and stop Turkey’s aggression.
Chairman, House Energy Committee, Congressman Frank Pallone
Over the last six decades, your country has undergone incredible changes and overcome many difficult challenges it has faced. And through it all, Cyprus’s commitment to a long-standing friendship with the United States has been resolute, built upon economic cooperation, our shared goals for the region, and mutual trust…And as Cyprus continues to uphold its end of this partnership, I want you to be aware of our enormous support for it here in the U.S. Congress.
House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Member, Charlie Crist
I’m extremely proud of my Cypriot roots, the changes that have been made, the democracy that has been forged forward by the Greek people themselves.
Chairman, House Veterans Affairs Oversight Subcommittee, Chris Pappas
I’m proud to join all of you and stating unequivocally, “Turkey must withdraw its troops and its illegal occupation of Cyprus,” a stable and reunified Cyprus benefits the United States, the entire Eastern Mediterranean, and most of all, Cypriots themselves, who deserve to live without the looming presence of the Turkish military. As we look to the past to commemorate the Turkish partition of Cyprus, U.S.-Cypriot collaboration in recent years promises an even stronger bilateral relationship as we look to the future of cooperation between our two countries.
United States and Cyprus continue to forge strategic, meaningful partnerships, and collaborate on a broad spectrum of issues from regional defense, to energy security…the United States continues to view Cyprus as a vital partner in global and regional security, economic cooperation, and energy development.
House Energy Committee Member John Sarbanes
We will work and continue to press as hard as we can for a just solution to Cyprus, and your advocacy will be at the center of that. For that, I thank you, and we will continue join as lawmakers as your partners in that effort.
It is important to lift up the strength of the current partnership between Cyprus and the United States..this offers a way for us to build forward, to explore the great potential for partnerships in the energy arena, as a matter of security, economics, and other ways that we can collaborate between Cyprus and the United States…All of these things bode well for the strong continued relationship between the United States and Cyprus, something that we are so very, very proud of.
House Foreign Affairs Europe Subcommittee Member Dina Titus
I’ve been proud to see Cyprus become a key ally and partner in the region, and we must continue to grow the bilateral relationship between our two countries. The Republic of Cyprus is a vital partner in the region for maintaining political stability and fostering economic development. It is clearly in our national security interest to promote cooperation among countries in this difficult neighborhood. While we continue to collaborate with and provide assistance to Cyprus, we also have an obligation to monitor and always speak out against Turkey’s increasingly aggressive activities.