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Op-Ed: Obama Needs to Change U.S.—Turkey Relations
October 23 2009—No. 77 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed: Obama Needs to Change U.S.—Turkey Relations

WASHINGTON, DC — The following Op-Ed by AHI Founder Gene Rossides appeared in The National Herald 10-14-09, The Hellenic Voice 10-14-09, and the Greek News10-18-09.

Obama Needs to Change U.S.—Turkey Relations

By Gene Rossides
October 6, 2009

President Obama needs to review and revise U.S. relations with Turkey in the interests of the U.S. It is not in the best interests of the United States for Obama to continue the appeasement of Turkey and the application to Turkey of a double standard on the rule of law as former Presidents Clinton and Bush did.

The following is a list of Turkey’s violations of the rule of law, including U.S. laws, which the Executive Branch, particularly the State Department and the National Security Council, have tolerated and condoned to the detriment of U.S. interests in the region and worldwide:

  1. Turkey’s aggression in Cyprus and continuing occupation of 37% of Cyprus;
  2. Turkey’s violations of Greek airspace in the Aegean and threats in the Aegean;
  3. Turkey’s violations of religions freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church including the closing of the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology and the confiscation of 7,000 church properties;
  4. Turkey’s war crimes in Cyprus;
  5. Turkey’s ethnic cleansing in Cyprus;
  6. Turkey’s cultural cleansing in Cyprus;
  7. Turkey’s 40,000 illegal occupation troops in Cyprus;
  8. Turkey’s illegal transfer to Cyprus of 180,000 Turks in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention;
  9. Turkey’s illegal transfer of U.S. arms and equipment from Turkey to Cyprus; and
  10. Turkey’s refusal to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes as is mandated by the Ankara Protocol of which she is a signatory.

Obama needs to shake up the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and remove those career officials who refuse to enforce U.S. laws and refuse to support the rule of law in international affairs. Obama also needs to review the Defense Department’s positions regarding U.S. relations with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.

Obama’s adoption of the Clinton and Bush policy on Turkey is the wrong message for the international community and particularly the Moslem nations. It is the wrong message for those countries committing genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and cultural cleansing. It gives them a green light.

Turkey’s lobbyists

Turkey’s U.S. paid foreign agents, registered as lobbyists with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, include former majority leaders of the House of Representatives, Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and Richard Armey (R-TX), and former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL). It is a national disgrace and a deep stain on the honor of the House of Representatives that they are on Turkey’s payroll and have received millions of dollars.

Turkey also spends millions of dollars on propaganda in the U.S. through public relations and advertisements and payments to key individuals.

Turkey the cause of the Turkish Cypriot isolation

Turkey’s 40,000 illegal occupation forces and 180,000 illegal settlers/colonist are the cause of the Turkish Cypriot economic isolation and second class citizen status. Remove turkey’s troops and settlers/colonists and see how quickly the Greek and Turkish Cypriots would come to a fair and just agreed settlement.

Turkey, a disloyal ally

The facts are clear and demonstrate that Turkey is a disloyal and unreliable ally whose interests are not compatible with ours. During the Cold War, Turkey actively aided the Soviet Union which I have documented at length including allowing Soviet aircraft carriers to pass through the Dardanelles in violation of the Montreux Convention. The Soviet ships then tracked the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

More recently, in 2003, Turkey refused to allow the U.S. to use Turkish territory to open a second front against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship unless the U.S. gave Turkey an additional six billion dollars to the 26 billion dollars offered. Turkey’s “extortion in the name of alliance” and refusal made things more difficult for the U.S. and resulted in many U.S. military deaths according to the Pentagon.

Change of policy needed

The above facts cry out for a change in U.S. policy. Turkey’s intransigence on Cyprus, its aggressive actions in the Aegean, its failure to provide religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and full human and political rights for its 20% Kurdish minority, call for a serious and substantial revision of U.S. policy towards Turkey. It should be noted that Turkey seeks veto rights for the 18% Turkish Cypriot minority and a separate state while continuing to subjugate its 20% Kurdish minority.

The policy of the U.S. during the Clinton and Bush presidencies to support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a single sovereignty and international personality is not adequate. The U.S. must decide to pressure Turkey in order to achieve a just and fair settlement.

Sanctions and conditions needed

The U.S should first privately inform Turkey that the U.S. is prepared to seek sanctions and conditions against Turkey if Turkey does not announce a timetable for the rapid withdrawal of all its illegal 40,000 occupation forces, as required by-UN General Assembly Resolution 3212 of November 1, 1974, and its illegal 180,000 Turkish settlers/colonists. After a week of debate on the Cyprus question, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously passed (117-0) Resolution 3212 calling for a speedy withdrawal of all foreign troops, safe return of all refugees to their homes, and further negotiations toward a political settlement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. Turkey voted for the resolution. (New York Times, Nov. 2, 1974) Turkey did not comply with the resolution.

The U.S. should make it clear that the removal of the illegal troops and settler/colonists should not be part of the negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Turkey’s aggression in Cyprus is similar to Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait and should be treated as such.

If Turkey does not respond favorably to the U.S. initiative, the U.S. should go public and seek support from the EU, Russia and China.

The U.S. should further inform Turkey that if it does not respond favorably the Executive Branch will ask the Congress to remove all benefits Turkey presently enjoys from the U.S. including the generalized system of preferences and any textile quota benefits.

Community political action needed

Can we get our government to put pressure on Turkey? Some say we cannot. I firmly believe we can. It means political action in each of the 50 states and in each of the 435 congressional districts. It also means activity with the media and with the academic community and think tanks. It can be done.

To become active in this process, simply send an email to Alex Aliferis, American Hellenic Institute’s Legislative Assistant at giving your name, address, phone and your Representative’s name if you know it. AHI would then add you to our Congressional Contact Outreach Team.



For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at