By Gene Rossides
The United States, through the actions and inactions of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger bears the primary responsibility for the Cyprus tragedy of 1974. The evidence of Kissinger’s actions, including recently declassified documents, and his deliberate inactions, is abundantly clear and leaves no doubt as to his responsibility for the coup against President Makarios and his government, the Turkish invasion and aggression of July 20, 1974 and renewed invasion and aggression of August 14-16, 1974. Cyprus is still divided thirty-six years later and it is still a U.S. foreign policy failure.
Since the 1974 invasion, Turkey has occupied the northern 37 percent of Cyprus and has brought 180,000 colonists/settlers from Turkey, in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949. They have been given homes and lands taken from Greek Cypriots and foreign nationals including American citizens.
The U.S. has a moral responsibility to redress the situation. The U.S. should also redress the situation because Cyprus is of substantial strategic value for U.S. interests in the region. A unified Cyprus with a “constitutional democracy based on majority rule, the rule of law, and protection of minority rights,” as called for by then presidential candidate Vice President George W. H. Bush in 1988, would be a salutary precedent and example for the region and is in the strategic interests of the U.S.
The position of the Obama administration as expressed by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of support for the UN sponsored talks, for a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single sovereignty and international personality; is not adequate to achieve a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem and is not in the best interests of the U.S. because:
(1) It fails to support the rule of law and democratic values based on majority rule for the 80% Greek Cypriot majority and full minority rights for the 18% Turkish Cypriots minority and the 2% Armenian and Maronite minorities.
(2) It actually rewards the aggressor Turkey and punishes the victims, the Greek Cypriots.
(3) It treats the Greek Cypriot victims of aggression in a similar manner with the aggressor Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
(4) It fails to recognize and state that Turkey makes the decisions for the Turkish Cypriots.
(5) It fails to indict Turkey for its invasion, war crimes, crimes against humanity and apartheid policy in Cyprus.
(6) It fails to indict Turkey for its destruction and pillaging of Cyprus’ cultural heritage.
What should the U.S. do?
The U.S. should apply a policy of realism towards Turkey and publicly challenge Turkey. The U.S. should understand what the noted historian Martin Gilbert said of Turkey’s diplomacy: “deny everything, admit nothing and attack, attack and attack.” The U.S. should also understand that Turkey will only respond to pressure. The U.S. should remember that Turkey aided the Soviet military on several occasions during the Cold War, and presently is at odds with the U.S. over Iran, Syria, the Sudan and Israel. The U.S. should take the following specific actions:
(1) The U.S. must stop the double standard on the application of the rule of law to Turkey and the appeasement of Turkey.
(2) The U.S. should publicly call for the removal of all Turkey’s military forces from Cyprus in accordance with the unanimous UN General Assembly Resolution 3212 of November 1, 1974, endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 364 of December 13, 1974.
(3) Turkey currently has U.S. arms and equipment illegally in Cyprus in violation of U.S. law. The U.S. should publicly call for their removal.
(4) The U.S. should publicly call for the return to Turkey of the 180,000 illegal Turkish colonists/settlers in Cyprus in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, section III, article 49, which prohibits colonization by an occupying power.
(5) The U.S. should call for the prompt return of the vacant city of Famagusta/Varosha for the immediate resettlement of Greek Cypriot refugees. This was promised by Carter administration at the time of the vote in Congress on lifting the rule of law arms embargo in the summer of 1978 and publicly acknowledged by the Turkish Cypriots at that time. After Congress lifted the remaining embargo in August 1978, this commitment was promptly forgotten.
(6) The U.S. should seek war crimes trials against the Turkish military and civilians responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in which the European Commission on Human Rights in its report found Turkey guilty of killing innocent civilians on a substantial scale; the rape of women of all ages from 12-71; inhuman treatment of prisoners and persons detained; creating more than 170,000 Greek Cypriot refugees; deprivation of property and possessions, looting and robbery on an extensive scale.
On January 23, 1977, the London Sunday Times published excerpts from the report and stated: “It amounts to a massive indictment of the Ankara government for the murder, rape and looting by its army in Cyprus during and after the Turkish invasion of summer 1974.”
(7) The U.S. should call on Turkey to apologize for its invasion of Cyprus and pay compensation to all of the victims of its invasion and occupation. It should note Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s recent calls for an apology and compensation from Israel for the flotilla incident which the Christian Science Monitor stated was initiated by Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara.
(8) The U.S. should publicly call for prompt payment by Turkey for the illegal use of property seized by Turkey from Greek Cypriots and Americans, in accordance with European Court decisions.
(9) The U.S. should call for the restoration of damaged churches in the occupied territory and compensation for the destruction of Greek Cypriot cultural heritage in occupied Cyprus..
(10) The U.S. should call for the suspension of Turkey from NATO until all Turkish troops and colonists/settlers are removed from Cyprus.
(11) The U.S. Congress should pass legislation withdrawing any and all benefits to Turkey, such as textile quotas, until all Turkish troops and colonists/settlers are retuned to Turkey.
(12) The U.S. should impose economic sanctions on Turkey until all Turkish troops and colonists/settlers are returned to Turkey.
(13) The U.S. should call on the UN Security Council to impose economic sanctions on Turkey until all Turkish troops and settlers/colonists are returned to Turkey.
(14) The U.S. should call on the European Union to take similar action against Turkey.
(15) The U.S. should publicly adopt the policy position of presidential candidate Vice President George H.W. Bush which he stated on July 7, 1988 in Boston:
“We seek for Cyprus a constitutional democracy based on majority rule, the rule of law, and the protection of minority rights….I want to see a democratic Cyprus free from the threat of war.”
It is worth recalling that President Dwight D. Eisenhower condemned and reversed the invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel in October of 1956. In his October 31, 1956 television and radio report to the nation on the Middle East crisis, Eisenhower said:
There can be no peace without law. And there can be no law if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us and another for our friends.”
**** Gene Rossides is founder of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.