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AHEPA Marks Dark 47th Anniversary of Invasion, Occupation of the Republic of Cyprus



Washington, D.C. office

Supreme President George G. Horiates has issued a statement on the 47th anniversary of the illegal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey that occurred July 20, 1974 and subsequent illegal occupation: “This July 20, we observe a dark day–the 47th anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus by the Republic of Turkey, an unreliable NATO-member country under the Erdogan regime. To this very day this act remains an intolerable one; an act that is a gross violation of the rule of law, human rights, and democratic ideals.

We pause to remember the innocent civilians who lost their lives and the individuals who went missing, including five American citizens, four of whose investigations remain incomplete. The illegal invasion and occupation caused the displacement of 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees who to this day are unable to return to their homes which is also a violation of human rights as determined by the European Commission on Human Rights. Moreover, Turkey’s restrictions upon religious freedom and destruction of Cyprus’ cultural and religious heritage in Turkish-occupied Cyprus have been well-documented by the U.S. Helsinki Commission, the Law Library of Congress, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and several media publications. “It is our hope the two sides resume their dialogue and work to resolve difficult issues to achieve a just and viable settlement.

Unfortunately, Turkey’s provocative and hostile acts, and constant assault on international law, threaten the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, which is a United States strategic partner and European Union member, and does not bode well for the resumption of settlement talks. Most recently, these provocations have come in the form of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s public calls for a ‘two-state solution’ and the reopening of Varosha. Taken together with reports of Turkey establishing a base for unmanned aerial vehicles in occupied Cyprus, we are alarmed by these troubling developments. “We applaud the bipartisan outcry from Congress about Turkey’s transgressions from the U.S. Senate, led by Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez and Committee Members Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen (read letter); and from Hellenic Caucus members in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Co-Chair Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (read letter) and Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (read statement). We are grateful for their advocacy. “We also do not forget that Turkey has acted aggressively in Cyprus’ designated exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with drillships and warships that in certain instances amounted to gunboat diplomacy. It led Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to call Turkey’s intention to drill a ‘second invasion.’ It also threatened the potential to achieve energy security for Europe and multinational energy firms, including American ones. “Turkish intransigence in the quest for a settlement must end. Turkey must abandon its insistence to be a Guarantor Power of a reunified Cyprus, essentially the right to intervene, especially as the security of all Cypriots in a unified, EU-member Cyprus would be provided by the EU.

Again, we urge the U.S. government to convey a strong message to Turkey that it must play a constructive role in the movement of confidence-building measures, which includes the removal of 40,000 Turkish troops from the island. We maintain our longstanding contention that these troops would serve a better purpose elsewhere, especially to NATO, as opposed to Cyprus. “These actions are in the best interests of the United States, which has conveyed appreciation for the strategic partnership it has with the Republic of Cyprus that has included enhanced defense and security cooperation. The United States’ investment in the Republic of Cyprus’s International Military Education and Training program for the first time last fiscal year is testament, among other examples.

This is especially important due to the discovery and potential exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves within the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ by multinational energy firms, including American ones, that could provide Europe with energy security. However, as aforementioned, Turkey has taken aggressive measures toward Cyprus and the multinational energy companies that rightfully intend to explore within Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone. We outright condemn Turkey’s aggression and deem it unacceptable. “Despite these troubling circumstances, we restate our call for a reunified Cyprus with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship; and with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded as described in the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. We contend such a solution is in the best interest of all Cypriots and must emanate from Cypriots themselves without arbitrary timetables. A just and viable solution to the division of Cyprus will strengthen the Eastern Mediterranean and bring peace and security to the region. “We state adamantly 47 years is too long. Our hope is we will no longer need to observe this solemn anniversary, but instead, celebrate the anniversary of a settlement. AHEPA remains committed to doing all within its power, and pledges to continue to work with all organizations*, to keep the Cyprus issue in the public eye until a just and viable solution that benefits all Cypriots is realized.”
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