36th Commemoration of the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus
Statement for the Congressional Record
Congressman Zack Space
July 20, 2010
Madam Speaker, 36 years ago today, Turkish forces invaded the sovereign nation of Cyprus, killing 5,000 Greek Cypriots and displacing nearly 200,000. This blatant violation of international law and lack of respect for a country’s right to self-determination is made worse by the fact that Turkish occupation of the northern area of Cyprus continues to this day.
This is a dark anniversary to mark, one that represents an entire generation of Cypriots expelled from their homes - their property confiscated, family members missing and religious artifacts vandalized and destroyed. This occupation desecrates the basic freedoms and rights of the Cypriot people. Nearly 37% of the island of Cyprus remains under Turkish military control insistent on an illegitimate sovereignty that is unrecognized by any nation but Turkey. This is completely unacceptable.
In the past 36 years, there have been more than 75 resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council – a council of which Turkey is a member. These resolutions call for the return of refugees to their homes and withdrawal of troops from Cyprus. President Demetris Christofias has followed through on his election promise to make the solution of this problem his top priority and has had several full-fledged negotiations with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. Yet, the negotiations’ success has been consistently thwarted by Ankara, which has not given great freedom to the Turkish Cypriot leaders to negotiate within the agreed-upon framework.
The legitimate, internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus stands firmly for peaceful resolution of the conflict. This path to a resolution calls for a single citizenship, a single sovereignty, and two politically equal communities. The solution to proceed with a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation is, most importantly, Cypriot in design.
Cyprus must be the author of its own path forward. Yet, the United States can and must do more to encourage Turkey to support the process and the reunification of the island. We should use our influence with Turkey to urge it to actively support the reunification of the island and to withdraw its troops from the island. We must provide support and assistance to the process and those working to move it forward.
As a Greek American and as a member of the Hellenic Caucus, I could not feel more strongly about the reunification of Cyprus. Cyprus is a nation that has endured occupation long enough. For us, the issue is straightforward and clear: we must do all we can to aid our ally, the Republic of Cyprus, in righting the wrongs of the past 36 years and in so doing, to promote peace and security in the Mediterranean.