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Op-Ed: If the U.S. can say it to Israel, They can certainly say it to Turkey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
June 17, 2009—No. 50 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed: If the U.S. can say it to Israel, They can certainly say it to Turkey

 

WASHINGTON, DC—The following Op-Ed by Nick Larigakis appeared in The National Herald 6-6-09, The Hellenic Voice 6-10-09, The Greek News 6-8-09, and the Hellenic News of America June edition.

 

If the U.S. can say it to Israel, They can certainly say it to Turkey

By Nick Larigakis

June 1, 2009

On May 5, 2009, Vice President Joe Biden spoke before the annual policy conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Arguably the most powerful and influential lobbying organization in Washington.

The U.S. has been unwavering in its support of Israel from the beginning of Israel becoming a state in 1948  Vice President Biden reinforced the Obama Administration’s commitment to the U.S. support of Israel when he stated:

“…with all the change you hear about, there is one enduring, essential principle that will not change; and that is our commitment to the peace and security of the state of Israel. This is not negotiable. This is not a matter of change. That is something to be reinforced and made clear. It seems almost unnecessary to state it, but I want the word to go forth in here that no one should mistake it.

That commitment began when the United States of America emerged from WWII the preeminent…power in the world…and recognized the state of Israel. It’s a commitment that spans generations, and administrations of both political parties.  And our job..[is] to ensure that endures.”

Indeed, the United States has stood by Israel, a long-time ally, by being it’s strongest benefactor,  supplying enormous amounts of foreign aid and military assets for over five decades, including international diplomatic support. During the Cold War, Israel was the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, and even in this year, the Obama Administration has requested 2.8 billion dollars for Israel in the foreign aid appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010

Nevertheless, Vice President Biden stood before the most powerful lobby group and the supporters of one of our most important allies in the Middle East and said:

But Israel has to work towards a…solution. You’re not going to like my saying this, but [Israel should] not build more settlements, [should] dismantle existing outposts and allow the Palestinians freedom of movement based on their first actions…This is a ‘show me’ deal—not based on faith—show me.”.

If the Administration is willing to send such strong message towards Israel, why can’t they do the same towards another so called “important” ally—Turkey? The answer is they can and they must. And the Greek American community needs to keep re-enforcing this at every opportunity that we have when we meet with members of the Administration and other foreign policy decision makers. The door has been kicked open by Vice President Biden, a person who has long advocated the removal of the Turkish occupation Turkish troops from Cyprus for over 34 years in the Senate and who has supported the re-unification of Cyprus based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation that will provide a long lasting just and viable solution on Cyprus.

To facilitate this, the Greek American community needs to graduate past the feel good general statements that we usually hear from policy makers, which always lack specifics, and be more resolute regarding what we not only want, but frankly demand from our policy makers in order to bring long lasting security and stability in the southeastern Mediterranean, which, after all, also serves U.S. interests.

Regarding Cyprus, this means calling on President Obama to adhere to his October 2008 campaign statement when he said: “As president [I] will show U.S. leadership in seeking to negotiate a political settlement on Cyprus. [I] believe strongly that Cyprus remain a single, sovereign country…within a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation…A negotiated political settlement on Cyprus would end the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and repair the island’s tragic division while paving the way to prosperity and peace throughout the entire region.”

It also means that the U.S. should call on Turkey to immediately: remove the 43,000 occupation troops; return the 180,000 illegal settlers/colonists; tear down the green line barbed wire fence; and warn Turkish leaders not to manipulate the current talks or restrict Mr. Talat at the bargaining table.

This would be the “show me deal” regarding Cyprus!

Advocating strongly for these policy decisions would underscore support for the rule of law and respect for international law. This would illustrate that the Unites States truly wishes to advance the cause of solving the 35-year-old Cyprus problem. Continuing former failed policies that promote a double standard in applying the rule of law to Turkey and the continuing appeasement of Turkey does not serve U.S. interests.

If we can say it to Israel we can certainly say it to Turkey.

 

Nick Larigakis
Executive Director
American Hellenic Institute

 

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.