Sunday, July 22, 2012

Greek American Congressman Gus Bilirakis on Cyprus: 'Mr. Speaker, 38 years is Long Enough'

 Part of the Poster advertising the documentrary 
'Cyprus Still Divided: A US Foreign Policy Failure
(Read more about the documentary below)

'There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one third of Cyprus...'
Dr Henry Kissinger,  US Secretary of State

38 years have passed since the brutal invasion and occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, with what appears to have been the maybe-not-so-tacit approval of the all powerful US Secretary of State at the time, Dr Henry Kissinger.

Although little has been done to solve the impasse in the last few years, Cyprus' accession to the EU has outraged Turkey which continues to throw its weight around in the Eastern Mediterranean, bullying Cyprus at every opportunity. 

In light of the on-going tragedy which continues for the Cypriot people, and who are deprived of their family, land and property, we  are glad to see people like Congressman Gus Bilirakis, and Global Greek organisations like AHEPA and AHI  issuing statements and working to keep the issue alive in the USA and around the world. 

This support is particularly significant in the interests of maintaining international justice and human rights on this beleaguered island. 

Listen to Congressman Bilirakis address the House on the eve of the 'black' anniversary of the Turkish invasion which divided Cyprus on 20 July 1974. 

You can read the text of his address just below the video.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today not only as a member of this esteemed body, but also as a Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues.

I stand before you today to recall a somber anniversary that has pained the Cypriot and Hellenic communities for the past 38 years.

Mr. Speaker, even though the tragic events of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus took place so long ago, on July 20, 1974, the suffering of the victims has not subsided.

This anniversary is a time for America to respectfully remember the brutal Turkish military invasion of Cyprus, to mourn those who lost their lives, and to condemn the continued occupation.

Over 5,000 Cypriots were killed in 1974, and more than 1,400 Greek Cypriots, including four Americans of Cypriot descent still remain missing.

Since the invasion, Turkey has established a heavily-armed military occupation that continues to control over 30 percent of Cyprus.

Forced expulsions of Greek Cypriots on the occupied land have left nearly 200,000 people displaced. These Cypriots were kicked out of their homes, making them refugees in their own country. Those properties have been unlawfully distributed and are currently being used by the tens of thousands of illegal settlers from Turkey. To this day, Greek Cypriots are prevented by Turkey from returning to their homes and properties.

Another tragic result of this 38 year occupation is the division among Greek and Turkish Cypriots, who have been forcibly separated along ethnic lines.

This unnatural division of the island nation is a crime against society and to the people of Cyprus – that can only be resolved by ending Turkey's illegal occupation.

Mr. Speaker, 38-years is just too long. On the occasion of this anniversary, we need to take a long, hard look at our own commitment toward helping Cyprus reach a lasting and enduring peace – free from occupation, division and oppression.

A few years ago, the U.S. House had the wisdom and foresight to unanimously pass H RES 405, a measure I introduced, which expressed strong support from this body for the implementation of the July 8 Agreement.

Last month, my colleagues and I introduced H Res 676:

• to expose and halt the Republic of Turkey's illegal colonization of the Republic of Cyprus with non-Cypriot populations,

• to support Cyprus in its efforts to control all of its territory,

• to end Turkey's illegal occupation of Cyprus,

• and to allow Cyprus to exploit its energy resources without illegal interference by Turkey.

The Republic of Cyprus has also worked alongside its European neighbors to bring about a stronger integration of Turkish and Greek Cypriot interests for the good of the Island and its people. This has included a partial-lifting on restrictions of movement across the cease-fire line that continues to forcibly divide Cyprus.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that because of this continued integration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and the economic and political successes that the Republic of Cyprus so readily wants to share with its neighbors, it is possible to bring closure to this 38-year occupation, and now as Cyprus takes over the EU Presidency, the first time since its accession to the Union in 2004.

Cyprus has long been a strong and faithful ally of the United States. It continues to work with us in the Global War on Terrorism and has supported our efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Speaker, 38 years is long enough. It is time to have a Cyprus that is once again unified, without Turkish occupation troops, foreign illegal settlers, where human rights is fundamental for all Cypriots.

Every legal citizen of the Republic of Cyprus, irrespective of national or religious background, is eligible to enjoy all rights provided for by the Constitution and international conventions signed by Cyprus. The only obstacle – Mr. Speaker – is the government of Turkey.

We Americans, as friends of the Cypriot people, owe it to them to do everything in our power to support peace and an end to Turkey's 38-year illegal occupation of Cyprus. 

Thank you.

Gus Bilirakis is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues

About AHI's documentary 'Cyprus Still Divided'

In the summer of 1974 Turkey launched a two-phased invasion of the Republic of Cyprus, using U.S. supplied arms and equipment to grab nearly 40 percent of Cyprus's sovereign territory and force 170,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and property. Many observers believe the United States had the knowledge and power to prevent the Turkish invasion and later to compel Turkey to withdraw it troops, but Washington did neither of those things.

Today, more than 38 years later, the Turkish army continues to occupy the northern third of Cyprus in violation of international law, and Turkey has illegally settled occupied Cyprus with more than 180,000 Turks from Anatolia.

The American Hellenic Institute's Documentary “Cyprus Still Divided” reveals the reason why the US failed to act, revealing the web of domestic politics, the realpolitik of Henry Kissinger, and repeated refusal of successive U.S. presidents to demand that the rule of law and fundamental human rights be upheld in Cyprus, and presenting the facts in a clear and concise manner. For example, the documentary presents the recently declassified 1974 State Department memorandum that clearly indicts Secretary of State Kissinger, who made the incredibly cynical statement quoted above, 

“There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one-third of Cyprus.”

“Cyprus Still Divided” also looks to the future of the divided island in the context of the ongoing settlement negotiations between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot community that began in September 2008.

The documentary says:

“By abandoning the rule of law and its principles, the United States had a role in causing the present division of Cyprus. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. can perform a role in reunifying Cyprus.”

Click here to check with the American Hellenic Institute for future screenings of the documentary or to purchase it.


No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome feedback from our readers, but please keep your comments polite and respectful. Anonymous comments will be evaluated and published only if considered appropriate.


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Archangel Michael's Shrine, Tarpon Springs, Florida, USA

25th March Parade To Cenotaph Wellington, New Zealand

25th March Anniversary Parade, Wellington, New Zealand