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Op-Ed: The Need To Engage Turkey With Pressure
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
June 25, 2009—No. 52 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed: The Need To Engage Turkey With Pressure

 

WASHINGTON, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in The National Herald 6-20-09, Greek News 6-22-09, and The Hellenic Voice 6-24-09.

The Need To Engage Turkey With Pressure

By Gene Rossides

June 16, 2009

There is an urgent need in the interest of the United States to engage Turkey with pressure in order to make progress and to settle a number of outstanding issues.

Words are important but they are not enough. Words need to be followed by action—by specific acts to get results.

Meetings with photo opportunities can be helpful, but if they are not combined with calls for action they can become quite harmful because they leave the obvious impression the community is not really serious.

All meetings with Executive Branch officials or members of Congress and there staffs should include specific requests for diplomatic, political and economic pressures on Turkey to achieve our objectives.

Cyprus

It is not enough for the U.S. to say it supports a Cyprus settlement based on bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single sovereignty.

In any meetings or one-on-one exchanges with Congressional or Executive Branch officials, members of our community should call for the removal now of Turkey’s illegal occupation forces, estimated at 40,000, and its illegal Turkish settlers/colonists from Anatolia, estimated at 180,000, and specifically request that the U.S. inform Turkish officials that the U.S. will take action to pressure Turkey to comply.

Similarly, regarding other aspects of the Cyprus problem, for example, the return of the ghost city of Famagusta, as promised by the U.S. and Turkey in the 1978 debate on lifting the rule of law arms embargo, the community needs to request action to pressure Turkey to return Farmagusta now.

Aegean Boundary

It is not proper nor in the interests of the U.S. for the U.S. to refuse or fail to state what the law is regarding the maritime boundary in the Aegean.

Community organizations and individuals should call on the U.S. to state publicly the law regarding the maritime boundary in the Aegean and specifically request the U.S. to inform Turkish officials that if they do not stop their threats against Greece in the Aegean and aerial encroachments in the Aegean, that the U.S. will take actions to pressure Turkey to comply.

Ecumenical Patriarchate

It is not enough for the U.S. to call for religious freedom and protection for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for the reopening of the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology.

Our community organizations and individuals should call on Executive Branch officials and members of Congress to state publicly their support for religious freedom and protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the reopening of Halki, and the return of over 7,000 church properties confiscated by the Turkish government; and specifically request that the U.S. inform Turkish officials that if they do not respond affirmatively that the U.S. will take actions to pressure Turkey to do so.

It is a disgrace and a strain on the State Department that it has failed to apply the specific terms of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) to Turkey. The Act lists 15 specific remedial actions the President can take against countries violating religious freedom.

Turkey

Turkey is an anti-Christian and anti-Semitic nation. In the 20th century Turkey was the leading anti-Christian nation in the world, killing over 2,500,000 Christians in its Armenian Genocide, Pontian Greek Genocide and Assyrian Genocide. The infamous burning of Smyrna and slaughter of the Armenian and Greek Christians of Smyrna ordered by Ataturk should never be forgotten. And the catastrophic pogrom against the 100,000 Greek Christians of Istanbul on September 6-7, 1955, brilliantly described by Professor Speros Vryonis, Jr. in his monumental book The Mechanism of Catastrophe (2005), should never be forgotten.

Contrary to the false and misleading statements of State Department officials and certain former U.S. ambassadors to Turkey and Turkey’s paid U.S. foreign agents of influence registered with the Department of Justice, Turkey has not been a “loyal ally.”

As I have written previously Turkey is an unreliable ally who actually aided the Soviet Union’s military on several occasions during the Cold War over the objections of the U.S. and NATO. And more recently the Turkish parliament voted in March 2003 not to allow use of Turkish territory to open a second front against Saddam Hussein because they wanted a total of 32 billion dollars from the U.S. The U.S. Treasury negotiator called Turkey’s actions “extortion in the name of alliance.”

Appeasing Turkey these past 50 years has not worked. It is past time to take action against Turkey to achieve U.S. aims.

U.S. actions to be taken

There are a number of specific actions the U.S. can and should take against Turkey in the interest of the U.S. to strengthen our position and interests in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. The fifteen specific actions listed in IRFA regarding violations of religious freedom can obviously be applied to other foreign policy issues such as Cyprus and the Aegean. The President and the State Department should do so.

These actions range from an official public demarche, a public condemnation, a denial of working, official or state visits, to directing the U.S. EXIM bank and other U.S. institutions not to approve any credits, guarantees or insurance; to withdrawing U.S. security assistance; to directing U.S. executive directors of the IMF and World Bank to oppose and vote against loans; and to impose trade sanctions; among others.

Community Action Needed

Call and write to the President and ask him to stop the appeasement of Turkey and to take specific actions against Turkey in the interests of the U.S. to settle the Cyprus and Aegean problems and to achieve religious freedom in Turkey and the reopening of Halki.

Contact the President as follows:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Tel. 202-456-1111 (Comments)
202-456-1414 (Main Switchboard)
Fax: 202-456-2461
E-mail: comments@whitehouse.gov

Send copies to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, National Security Adviser General James Jones, (Ret.) and Congress.

Gene Rossides, founder of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury

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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.