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American Hellenic Institute Foundation Holds Capitol Hill Conference on Cyprus
August 2, 1999 No. 29/99 (202) 785-8430

American Hellenic Institute Foundation Holds Capitol Hill Conference on Cyprus

On July 28, 1999 the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) presented a conference and luncheon on Capitol Hill on The United States and Cyprus--Twenty Five Years Later: A Study in Double Standards. Cooperating in the conference were the Order of AHEPA, Cyprus Federation of America, Pancyprians of Metropolitan Washington, Hellenic American National Council (HANC) and Hellenic American Women's Council (HAWC)

The luncheon speaker was Chairman Ben Gilman, House International Relations Committee. Other remarks were received from Senator Paul Sarbanes and Representatives Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Ron Klink (D-PA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Bob Filner (D-CA).

Greeting remarks were delivered by HE Erato Kozakou-Marcoulis, Ambassador of Cyprus and HE Alexander Philon, Ambassador of Greece.

Private sector and academic speakers included Professor Van Coufoudakis, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University, Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice-President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, CATO Institute, John Tirman, Executive Director, the Winston Foundation, Thomas Klein, Esq., Andrews and Kurth LLP, and Eugene T. Rossides, President AHIF.

The conference covered the full range of issues relating to U.S. policy toward Cyprus. Among key insights presented were the following:

Chairman Ben Gilman: "Last week nearly two thousand people joined in a symbolic human chain around the Capitol to mark the 25th anniversary of the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and to demand a peaceful and just settlement to the Cyprus problem. For me it was a very moving occasion.

"Everyone, including our State Department officials, understands that the impasse on Cyprus is caused by the position of Ankara and of Denktash.

"I believe that the Administration, including the President should use all the influence at our disposal to convince the Turkish side that they must return to the negotiating table and that a refusal to do so will have consequences for Turkey's relations with the U.S.

Senator Paul Sarbanes: "We are at a critical time juncture over Cyprus....but we are encountering our traditional difficulty with 'Mr. No' [Denktash.]....We must push Ecevit hard to make concessions."

Representative Rob Andrews: "Turkey's occupation of Cyprus now stands as the most lengthy and glaring example of contempt for the rule of law in the world today. The lack of enforcement of the scores of UN resolution calling for the withdrawal of Turkey's illegal occupation forces remains a mark of unfulfilled responsibility for the global community"

"I have also asked President Clinton to become personally involved in the peace negotiations which are so critical to the resolution in Cyprus. The Clinton administration has an opportunity in Cyprus to extend its reputation for supporting the international rule of law and brokering peace in conflict-ridden areas."

Representative Ron Klink: "The world is against Turkey's scurrilous assault on Cyprus. Turkey stands alone. Its outlaw action is anathema to the world we live in today."

Representative Carol Maloney: "We must vocally and publicly criticize Turkey for its conditions which are non-starters and killers....Now is the time for the U.S. to use all its influence and power to persuade Turkey to negotiate....We must support Cyprus as a member of the European Union."

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: "I too believe that a strong case cane be made that a double standard is being applied to Cyprus by the United States and the international community. When we compare both the military and political response and the massive effort undertaken recently in Kosovo to our lack of initiative in Cyprus, it is clear that more needs to be done to resolve the Cyprus problem....Policy leaders in the Administration oppose any pressure from being applied on the parties to come back to the negotiation table. Of course, this is wrong. I believe what we need to move people is pressure."

Mr. Carpenter: "Turkey intervened militarily in Cyprus and occupied over 37 percent of a neighboring state; it expelled the members of one ethnic group and imported members of its own ethnic group; it rules a client state. If that does not constitute either ethnic cleansing or aggression, those terms have no meaning in substance whatever....Turkey is a spectacular example of double standards.

"The U.S. acceptance of the quiet military coup against Prime Minister Erbakan, Turkey's threats against Syria, Turkey's incursions into Iran and Iraq, Turkey's bullying of Armenia, and subtle acceptance of Turkey's position on the Aegean is evidence of a pervasive double standard and tilt toward Turkey."

Dr. Coufoudakis: "On Cyprus, the U.S. has watered down UN resolutions and, by espousing an equal distance from the two communities, has implemented UN resolutions selectively....Unlike in Kosovo and Kuwait the U.S. has failed to oppose aggression and ethnic cleansing....The U.S. does not seek a just settlement of the Cyprus problem. It seeks to close the book on Cyprus."

Mr. Klein: "One of the saddest aspects of the twenty-five year Turkish occupation is the widespread looting and destruction of art and cultural objects that has taken place in the occupied areas....What is particularly disturbing about the fate of most of these treasures is that they were not subject to random acts of vandalism and destruction; rather, it is now clear that many of the objects were targeted for theft, illicit export and eventual sale into the international market. Turkey must bear a heavy responsibility for allowing these acts of looting and profiteering....Looting and destruction on such a systematic scale could only have occurred with official sanction of the Turkish occupation authorities.

"The burden is on Turkey to protect the remaining cultural objects in the occupies areas and also to account for the looting and destruction it has allowed."

Mr. Tirman: "The consequences of the occupation and the de facto division of the island include expropriation, a flood of immigrants into Cyprus from Turkey, all of which have implications for human rights."

AHIF President Eugene T. Rossides: "The Executive Branch of our government tries to create the perception of being a disinterested broker/mediator between Greece and Turkey. The reality is otherwise....The State Department, through the lawless conduct of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, bears the primary responsibility for Turkey's invasion of Cyprus....The time has come to put the essential facts to the center of policy. Turkey is responsible for the Cyprus problem through its aggression and illegal occupation. The State and Defense Departments have failed to treat Turkey as an aggressor as they have so treated Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia."

Mr. James Marketos, Chairman AHI and partner Berliner, Corcoran, and Rowe LLP, acted as moderator of the speakers panel. Dr. Takey Crist, Chairman AHEPA Cyprus and Hellenic Affairs Committee, acted as the luncheon chairman.

The conference proceedings will be published.