The Cyprus Federation of America and the International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” held a Memorial Service on Sunday, July 18th commemorating the July 20th, 1974 Invasion of Cyprus by Turkey. The service was held at St. Catherine’s Church in Astoria, New York and officated by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios. Many dignitaries attended including H.E. Aglaia Balta, Consul General of Greece, The Honorable Koula Sofianou, Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Panicos Papanicolaou, Cyprus Federation President, Mr. Philip Christopher, President of the International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” (Pseka), The Honorable Michael Giannaris, Ms. Aravella Simota, Mr. Nikos Mouyiaris, Executive Vice President of Pancyprian, Mr. Andreas Comodromos, Chairman of the Cyprus U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Members of the CFA Executive Committe, and Presidents of Member Organizations. Speeches and remembrances were made at the coffee reception that was hosted by CFA and PSEKA. Many events will be held in Washington, D.C. from July 20th through July 23.
The Hellenism of America will continue, without any sense of “defeatism” and “factious views” its struggle for “claiming justice” for the people of Cyprus, stressed the speakers at the memorial service for the fallen during junta’s coup and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, noting that “1974 is not the past, because the crime continues”.
On the occasion of the conclusion of 36 years since the Turkish invasion in Cyprus, members of the Cyprus Federation of America and PSEKA are meeting today in Washington with American senators and congressmen, whilst a special event will be organized in a hall of the Congress. In addition, members of Overseas Cypriot bodies
will be making contacts with State Department officials, who will be informed on the views of the Greek Cypriot side, seeking their intervention in order to “impose pressure on the Turkish side”, so that it will adopt a conciliatory stance, as the President of the Cyprus Federation of America, Peter Papanikolaou stressed, adding that “it is unacceptable for American foreign policy to allow a European country to remain forcefully divided and with American weapons, one third of the population being unable to return to their homes and the violation of the rights of the entire population”.
Other messages about the occasion:
Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas issued the following statement on the 36th anniversary of the illegal invasion and subsequent occupation of the Republic of Cyprus that occurred July 20, 1974:
“Today marks a somber day as we observe the 36th anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus by the Republic of Turkey. This was, and remains to this very day, an intolerable act; one 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 thousands who went missing, including four American citizens whose investigations remain incomplete. The illegal invasion and occupation caused the displacement of nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees, including my family, 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.
“Today, the ongoing direct talks between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and new hard-line Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, under the scope of the high-level UN Agreement of July 8, 2006, has provided minimal tangible progress toward a settlement to reunify Cyprus despite the former’s submission of realistic proposals as recent as last week and because of the latter’s continued insistence to present proposals outside UN parameters and European Union principles. We restate our call for the reunification of Cyprus, and its people, in a bicommunal and bizonal federation with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal communities as described in the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. We contend that such a solution is in the best interest of all Cypriots, and must emanate from Cypriots themselves.
“However, ultimately the key to a successful settlement rests in Ankara. We call on the U.S. government to convey a strong message to Turkey that it must provide the Turkish Cypriot community with the necessary freedom to negotiate a solution within the July 8 framework, and equally as important, facilitate the removal of 43,000 of its troops from the island.
“Therefore, on this ‘black anniversary’ we call on Turkey to begin the removal of its 43,000 troops from Cyprus. These are troops that we contend, as American citizens, would serve a better purpose, especially to NATO, in another theatre such as Afghanistan as opposed to Cyprus where there have been 15 million incident-free crossings by Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
“We call for these actions in the best interests of the United States. A reunified Cyprus into a bizonal, bicommunal federation will strengthen the eastern Mediterranean and bring peace and security to the region. Furthermore, it will aid Turkey’s candidacy to become a member of the European Union.
“Our hope is that we will no longer need to observe this ‘black anniversary,’ but instead, celebrate the anniversary of a settlement. AHEPA remains committed to doing all within its power to keep the Cyprus issue in the public eye until a just and viable solution is realized.”
WASHINGTON, DC —The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) has issues the following statement on the 36th anniversary of Turkey’s brutal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus on July 20, 1974:
Today we remember the solemn 36th anniversary of Turkey’s brutal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus.
On July 20, 1974, Turkey illegally invaded the Republic of Cyprus with the illegal use of U.S.-supplied arms and equipment in violation of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the United Nations Charter, the NATO Treaty, and customary international law. Turkey occupied about four percent of Cyprus during the initial phase of its invasion. Turkish pilots flying American planes dropped American-made bombs, including napalm bombs, on Greek Cypriot communities.
Furthermore, on August 14, 1974, three weeks after the legitimate government of Cyprus was restored, Turkey launched the second massive phase of its invasion of Cyprus. As a result of its two-phase invasion of Cyprus, Turkey grabbed 37 percent of Cyprus’s sovereign territory, killed innocent civilians, raped women ages 12 to 71, forced 170,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and properties, and committed mass destruction of Cyprus’s cultural and religious heritage, including its churches and cemeteries. Approximately 1,600 Greek Cypriots and five American citizens of Cypriot heritage went missing and a large majority of these cases remain unresolved.
For 36 years, the people of Cyprus have endured an illegal occupation and massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey, an ally of the United States. Current efforts to find a solution under United Nations auspices have yielded minimal tangible results. Under the new leadership of Mr. Dervis Eroglu, the Turkish Cypriots, with the support of Turkey, continue to present proposals and positions that are outside the parameters of the UN high-level agreement and European Union principles. Clearly, the problem, as well as the solution to the Cyprus issue, rests in Ankara.
AHI contends the U.S can play a crucial role by getting realistic with Turkey and eliminating its double-standard policy that has rewarded Turkish aggression and ignored countless violations of the rule of law in Cyprus—a valued friend and supporter of the U.S. on counter-terrorism and security issues in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In addition, AHI continues to:
- support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi communal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing key American principles, the EU acquis communautaire and EU Founding Treaty, UN resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European Courts — as is the best interests of the United States;
- call for the withdrawal of Turkey’s 43,000 occupation troops illegally in Cyprus;
- call for the return of the 180,000 illegal Turkish colonists/settlers in Cyprus to Turkey and for a halt to the illegal bringing of more colonists/settlers from Turkey to occupied Cyprus to illegally change the demographics of the island and of the Turkish Cypriot community, all of which is in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949;
- call for the restoration of property illegally taken in the northern-occupied area of Cyprus to their rightful owners, and payment by Turkey to the owners for deprivation of the use of their property;
- urge the U.S. government to direct Turkey to tear down the green line barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus that makes Nicosia the last divided capital in Europe;
- contend Ankara must not manipulate the direct talks or restrict Mr. Eroglu during negotiations; and
- call on Ankara to normalize relations with the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union (a body to which Turkey aspires to join), and as agreed to by Turkey.
AHI will host a documentary presentation and forum on Capitol Hill titled “Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure” on July 21, 2010, 2pm, 2456 Rayburn House Office Building, to observe the 36th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of the Republic of Cyprus.
Finally, AHI draws attention to Turkey’s recent foreign policy direction that is not in the best interests of the United States.
Regarding Iran, Turkey has publically supported the Iranian dictator, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and its fraudulent election returning Ahmadinejad to the presidency. Turkey has denounced Iran’s opposition party and the mass demonstrations over the legitimacy of the elections. In a CNN interview, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan rebuffed President Obama’s call for tough new sanctions on Iran.
Regarding Israel, Prime Minister Erdogan has attacked Israel on many occasions for its actions in Gaza, including the “Flotilla Incident” that occurred May 31, 2010. He publically attacked former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 29, 2009, and recently, excluded Israel from an annual NATO air force exercise in Turkey called Anatolian Eagle. The U.S. and others refused to participate, and as a result, the exercise was canceled.
Our position has long been that the United States, in its own best interests, should critically review and reassess its relations with Turkey. The recent actions and statements of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and other members of his government, regarding Israel, Iran, Syria and Sudan, which are contrary to U.S. policy and interests, only serve to underscore the need for a critical reevaluation of U.S. relations with Turkey.