American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Statement On 26th Anniversary Of Turkey's Invasion Of Cyprus
July 20, 2000 No. 37/00 (202) 785-8430

AHI Statement On 26th Anniversary Of Turkey's Invasion Of Cyprus

On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of Turkey's 1974 invasion of Cyprus and continuing occupation, the American Hellenic Institute issued the following statement of its position on Cyprus.

"The Cyprus problem has been on the international agenda for many years and most prominently since Turkey's illegal 1974 invasion. Years of negotiation and international initiatives have foundered on the barrier of the military-controlled Turkish government's intransigence. The absence of progress damages important national interests of the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean and compromises fundamental American values such as rejection of aggression and respect for the rule of law. The time has come for a realistic approach in which the U.S. engages the true issues.

Turkish obstructionism is not the only guilty party. Faulty U.S. policy is also responsible for the damaging failure to produce a settlement. It is time to recognize that the U.S. approach adopted since 1974 of treating Cyprus as a traditional diplomatic problem where 'meet-in-the-middle' negotiations involving compromises by each side has failed. Despite compromises made by Cyprus, Turkey has not reciprocated. To break the deadlock, the U.S. must follow a realistic approach based on the fundamentally clear and straightforward issues underlying the Cyprus problem. These are:

  • The Cyprus problem is one of aggression, illegal occupation and attempted dismemberment by Turkey, whereby the Republic of Cyprus is the victim and Turkey is the aggressor. There is no difference in principle between Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and Turkey's invasion of Cyprus. Indeed, as a U.S. NATO ally and EU aspirant Turkey should be held to the highest standards of compliance with international law.
  • For 24 years, Turkey has violated the will of the United States and the United Nations to cease its illegal occupation of Cyprus and not to recognize or give any other assistance to the illegally occupied areas. Instead it has reinforced its forces there and illegally sent Turkish settlers there.
  • The United States bears a national responsibility for the Cyprus tragedy. Speaking publicly in Nicosia on November 11, 1997 Ambassador Richard Holbrooke described U.S. actions in 1974 as "shameful." At a Capitol Hill conference on Cyprus on June 10, 1998 Ambassador Tom Boyatt, the State Department's Cyprus desk officer in 1974, stated that "a Cyprus solution is possible if the U.S. steps up to its responsibilities and remembers its own guilt. So we have a redemption factor here."

The time has come to restore these essential facts to the center of policy. Turkey is overwhelmingly responsible for the Cyprus problem by its aggression and illegal occupation. Instead of a barren process of negotiation which allows Turkey to deny this fact and the U.S. to divert attention from the real issues, the Administration should now:

  • State that it is ending its current approach and that future talks will take place on the basis of restoring the status quo ante and the rule of law as it applied before Turkey's 1974 illegal invasion.
  • Identify Turkey and its military-dominated government as the responsible party for the Cyprus problem and recognize that the Turkish military is the key, not Mr. Denktash.
  • Demand that Turkey complies immediately with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, cease all measures to integrate the occupied areas with Turkey, immediately withdraw all occupation troops, and agree to the demilitarization of the island.
  • Demand the restoration of constitutional government for all of Cyprus based on majority rule, the rule of law, and protection of minority rights.
  • Institute a realistic diplomatic approach including coercive measures against Turkey such as sanctions and denial of assistance from the international financial institutions in the event of Turkish non-compliance or any further violation of international law by Turkey in Cyprus."