AHI Rayburn House Office Building
July 26, 2006
“Cyprus: 32 Years Later – What is Needed for a Solution”
WASHINGTON, DC—On July 26, 2006, the occasion of the 32nd year of Turkey’s invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a briefing and luncheon on Capitol Hill for congressional staffers. The speakers giving presentations were the distinguished foreign policy expert, Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President for Foreign Policy and Defense Studies at CATO Institute, Representatives Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-11th MI); Carolyn Maloney (D-14th NY); Frank Pallone (D-6th NJ) and Gene Rossides, President of AHI.
Dr. Carpenter made the following keynote remarks:
“Injustice Perpetuated: Cyprus and U.S. Foreign Policy”
“My thanks to Gene Rossides, Nick Larigakis and the American Hellenic Institute for the opportunity to address this gathering. The United States in many respects is a fairly unique country in that its always been a foreign policy challenge for America to reconcile its moral values and its national interests. Moral values have always been for the vast majority of Americans a very important consideration. That’s one reason why Henry Kissinger’s brand of Realpolitik has never played very well with the vast majority of Americans.
We’ve seen this desire to reconcile values and interests on numerous occasions. One recent example is President Bush’s second inaugural address in which he stated flatly and I quote, “America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one.” Well unfortunately its usually a bit more complex than that. Interests and moral values cannot always be reconciled as much as we would like that to be the case. Just one example of the dilemma that we face, is that it is necessary for the United States to cooperate with a variety of authoritarian and at times unsavory regimes in the war against radical Islamic terrorism. It’s not much of a pleasure, and it’s certainly not an honor to have to work with the regime in Saudi Arabia for example or the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan but given the enemy we face it is necessary.
Another example where we might want to take a moral stand but compelling interests prevent us from doing it is with regard to an issue which I’ve written about a lot and that is the Taiwan issue. In an ideal world Taiwan would be a fully independent country recognized by the international community and the United States would stand four square for that principle. However, we understand that if we did that it would absolutely wreck our extremely important relationship with China, it would cause an immediate military crisis in the east Asian region and because of those considerations we have to stand by and watch an injustice perpetuated in the case of Taiwan’s political ambitions, it’s understandable desire to be fully independent and be recognized. So, sometimes we do have to sacrifice moral principle as painful as that is.
But America really betrays its heritage when it needlessly compromises important moral values. Washington’s policy toward the Cyprus issue is perhaps the most glaring example. The reaction to the 1974 invasion and occupation, at the very least, the U.S. stood by and watched as a NATO ally geographically raped a small neighbor. Gene Rossides, of course, makes a compelling case that Washington was even more culpable- that U.S. officials connived with Turkey in its aggression.
In the intervening 32 years, the U.S. has acted with generalized indifference as Turkey enjoyed the fruits of its aggression. Turkey brought to Cyprus tens of thousands of Turkish settlers, and Ankara’s repeated defiance of rulings from the European Court on the rights of Greek Cypriot property owners despoiled by the 1974 invasion was met with anemic and pro-forma U.S. protests at Ankara’s rogue behavior –when they were made at all.
I am not suggesting that the U.S. should have used force to expel Turkish forces from Cyprus. America does not have a vital interest at stake in the dispute, and American military forces should be put at risk only for the defense of vital interests. But Washington could have– and should have– made it clear early on that a close, friendly relationship between the U.S. and Turkey would be impossible as long as Turkey persisted in its aggression. Even if U.S. leaders were reluctant to take that step as long as they believed they needed Turkey in the struggle against the Soviet Union, that justification no longer applied once the Cold War came to an end. Yet, Washington’s pro-Turkish tilt on Cyprus has persisted.
Washington’s reaction to the rejection of the Annan Plan was very telling. U.S. officials expressed annoyance with Greek Cypriot voters for voting down that plan, despite its numerous unjust or unworkable features. Even worse was embracing the doctrine of moral equivalence between aggressor and victim. This involved placing the bulk of the blame on the victim. In essence, U.S. officials seem willing to go along with Ankara’s long-standing position that the Cyprus issue is settled with the defacto division of the island– unless a new agreement can be reached on Turkey’s terms.
What of the future? Washington is less fond of Ankara these days. Primarily because of differences of Iraq policy and the signs of surging radical Islamic and anti-American sentiment in Turkey. If relations between the U.S. and Turkey cool further, Washington may alter its position on the Cyprus issue to “punish” Ankara. Be watching for that development. Cyprus policy has been a stain on America’s honor for 32 years. It is time–indeed it is long overdue– to remove that stain.”
Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. The Cato Institute is a leading conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Dr. Carpenter is the author of 6 books and the editor of 10 books on international affairs. His books include The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea (2004), Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington’s Futile War on Drugs in Latin America (2003), Peace and Freedom: Foreign Policy for Constitutional Republic (2002), The Captive Press: Foreign Policy Crises and the First Amendment (1995), Beyond NATO: Staying Out of Europe’s Wars (1994), and A Search for Enemies: America’s Alliances after the Cold War (1992). He is also the author of more than 300 articles and policy studies. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, National Interest, World Policy Journal, and many other publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television programs in the United States, Latin America, Europe, East Asia and other regions. Dr. Carpenter received his Ph.D. in U.S. diplomatic history from the University of Texas and serves on the editorial boards of Mediterranean Quarterly and the Journal of Strategic Studies. He is a contributing editor to The National Interest.
The next speaker was Represenative Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-11th MI) who importantly called for a fundamental reexamination of United States relations with Turkey. His remarks follow:
“It’s my belief in the larger picture, what the United States has to do is fundamentally reexamine its relationship with the nation of Turkey. In the past the United States believed Turkey was a key ally for United States interests in the region. What that then caused are obvious to you fellow supporters of Cyprus.
In this day and age with Turkey increasingly looking to the European Union and the United States looking to countries in the Middle East to further the interests of democracy, it is critical that the United States recognize that it is not inherently dependent upon the good graces of the Turkish government for any success we have in the region.
This fundamental reassessment and realignment of our priorities in the region will then have one distinct and ineluctable benefit to the friends of Cyprus. It will help lead to ultimate justice for the individuals both with families still with us and the victims of the invasion. A nation that denies it’s past, is a nation that precludes its future. If the United States comes to the realization that our interests, as it has always been, is in dealing with other just nations to advance the cause of constitutional government and human rights, I believe that this course of action will be beneficial to everyone. And, I will continue to press for that course of action, and I will not allow intervening events to ever obscure that fundamental truth. Thank you very much for having me.”
The next speaker, Representative Frank Pallone (D-6th NJ), who introduced H.R. 857, American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, made the following remarks:
“I did want to thank you for all you’ve done with my bill, HR 857, American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act. It’s because of your efforts, because of the American Hellenic Institute’s efforts, and you in particular Gene Rossides and Nick Larigakis that we managed now to get 32 co-sponsors on the legislation. You know that the most important thing you can do right now is to get more and more co-sponsors on a bi-partisan basis both Democrats and Republicans, because that is the only way we can get a hearing and actually get it moved out of Committee.
Right now you know there is so much attention focused on Cyprus in particular because of what’s happening in Israel and Lebanon. Everything that I read shows how the Cypriots have been so warm and welcoming to all the American and other foreign nationals who have had to flee the conflict in Lebanon.
I was looking at some of the statements that were being made in the paper about how the Cypriots are going out and greeting them with flowers and coffee and really helping them in a major way. I know that’s not the first time, Cyprus has often been a place where people were able to find a safe haven when there was conflict in the Middle East or other areas around it.
So, I just hope that maybe there is a renewed focus on Cyprus by this administration because as you know the situation in terms of U.S. treatment of Cyprus is going down-hill and I would like to see it turn around. For years the official U.S. policy, no matter whether it was the democrat or the republican administration, was that Turkey had invaded and was occupying the northern part of Cyprus, and that was a violation of international law and they should be punished for it and they should not be recognized in any way. That policy made sense, not only because it was the right policy under international law and under any UN resolution but also because if you don’t punish or criticize the aggressor then they have no reason to ever leave. And, that would just make it more difficult to reunify the island.
So, it has been very unfortunate that in the last couple of years, the Bush administration has changed that dramatically since the referendum in April 2004 and you know how it’s manifested itself. First, by allowing flights into the occupied area and now by allowing trade with the occupied north and the answer when we make inquiries to the State Department is always the same. Which is well you know, we don’t want to isolate them, this is the way to encourage economic development of the occupied area and ultimate reunification.
I think the opposite is true. I think that to the extent that we appease the aggressor and we ignore what happened they have no reason to negotiate towards unification, or for the Turkish forces to ultimately leave the island. So, I think we have to keep on making the case. I mean I certainly do when I have the opportunity, and we will continue to do so. I think the more you keep making that clear, the better it is. And, maybe at some point, we can get the administration to reverse that policy and not continue it.
I do want to mention a little bit more about H.R. 857, the American-Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act. I think it is more important than ever. I know that unless we pass this bill it will continue to be difficult for anybody whose not allowed to go back to the property they own or to utilize the property they own. The longer that we go on with a system that allows someone else to sit on the property, utilize the property the more difficult it becomes in the long-run. I do think we need to try to get this bill passed. And again I just want to thank you for all your support.”
Representative Carolym Maloney (D-16th NY), the Co-Chair of the Hellenic Caucus made the following remarks:
“I’m really delighted to be here with this important organization, the American Hellenic Institute, to discuss the current situation in Cyprus and what steps need to be taken to move toward a solution to the division of the island. First of all I want to commend Cyprus for its invaluable assistance and support in evacuating civilians from Lebanon to safety. It has been all over the news. I had American students at the Lebanese University and they were part of that evacuation. And it was a massive undertaking and it was an example once again of the great assistance and ally that Cyprus and the Cypriot people are to the American people.
Representative Bilirakis and I are circulating a letter among our colleagues to President Papadopoulos thanking him for Cyprus’s extraordinary efforts to assist American citizens during the evacuation from Lebanon. We feel that it is important that all Cypriots know that we truly appreciate their support. We will also be putting a resolution before Congress thanking Cyprus and the President and the Cypriot people for their assistance during this crisis.
I had the great opportunity last summer to lead a delegation to Cyprus. We met with the President and government leaders and were able to hear first hand his concern and his determination to move forward with a peaceful settlement.
I believe the U.S. must continue to play an active role in the resolution of the serious issues facing Cyprus. First and foremost is the ongoing illegal occupation by the Turkish military forces on the northern part of the island in violation of many UN Security Council resolutions.
The peaceful and cooperative spirit in the person-to-person, family-to-family interactions between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots is an encouraging sign for the successful reunification of Cyprus. We need to work towards that however, it is time for Turkey to remove its troops from the island so that Cyprus can move forward as one nation.
I am fortunate to represent a very large and vibrant Cypriot American population and they were very very concerned about any agreement going forward that allows Turkish troops on the island. They were also extremely concerned about any decision that would restrict their ability to buy property or to be part of a unified Cyprus. They particularly objected to not being able to buy property in certain areas, yet other people could buy it in their area. For example, I live in Manhattan, there is an east and a west side it’s as if you say people on the east side can’t buy property on the west side, but people on the west side can buy property on the east side. That is not how a nation goes forward, people need to have protection for their rights and they have to have the same rights that others have to advance and invest in the economy.
Turkey must also respect and show their respect for the rights of the owners to their property in the north. And in that respect I have introduced legislation H.R. 322, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives in support of the European Court of Human Rights for its decisions in the Loizidou and Arestis cases against Turkey that they should be compensated for their property. And Turkey must respect these decisions while ending the illegal exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties in the areas of Cyprus under Turkish military occupation.
Earlier this month, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat agreed to begin a process of bi-communal discussions to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus challenge. Based on President Papadopoulos’ initiative the two leaders agreed to a set of principles including a commitment to the unification of Cyprus based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and political equality as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions; recognition that the status quo is unacceptable and that its prolongation would have negative consequences for the Turkish and Greek Cypriots; and agreement to begin a process immediately involving bi-communal discussion of issues that affect the day to day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both of which will contribute to a comprehensive settlement.
I welcome these developments. A unified Cyprus would promote stability both politically and economically, to the entire Mediterranean region. The people of Cyprus deserve a unified and democratic country, and I remain hopeful that a peaceful settlement will be found so that the division of Cyprus will come to an end. I can assure you that my colleagues and I in the Hellenic Caucus will certainly keep working toward that end.
I just want to conclude by expressing my gratitude to the many American Cypriots, Cypriots that have come to our country after the invasion, they have made their lives here and their dream is to be able to go home to their lands, and to be able to go to the home they were raised in. So, they are hopeful that there will be a unification and that they will be able to go back and claim their family homes. And I hope this will proceed forward. The American government supports this effort and I am proud to stand with my colleague Mr. Bilirakis as the co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus in working towards that end.
I do want to thank Mr. Rossides who is the founder of this really wonderful organization, for his consistent work of keeping me on my toes, keeping me informed and making sure that we in Congress understand what needs to be done, and Nick Larigakis also. And, not only celebrating the very positive aspects, when we come together to celebrate the Independence of Greece and the many economic achievements and movement forward but also to point out the challenges that are there.
A final comment, I have written to Secretary Rice to indicate my displeasure that a Congressional plane landed in the unrecognized northern section. This is totally unacceptable, this is wrong, this is not a recognized country and they have not been recognized by the United States and we should not have had that incident. I am not aware of an additional one. But we are on our toes and we are watching. Again, I thank you.”
Gene Rossides, AHI President made the following remarks:
“Cyprus: Actions Now in the Interests of the U.S.”
“I want to thank Ted Carpenter for his exceptional remarks. He has viewed this issue these past decades and he’s right on the mark in his comments. I congratulate him for that also. He mentioned my views regarding Kissinger’s role in 1974. It is important to understand that the United States encouraged and literally initiated not just the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey on July 20, 1974 but the coup against the Makarios government and the attempted assassination of President Makarios on July 15, 1974. The facts are there, let me give them to you briefly before I list several items that could be done now in the interests of the U.S. to advance the Cyprus problem.
Tom Boyatt was the Cyprus Desk Officer in 1974. During that year and in the latter part of 1973 he was trying to get word via memos up in the front office regarding the Greek dictator Ioannides antagonism to President Makarios of Cyprus and a potential attack on Cyprus by the Greek junta. It fell on deaf ears. In that sense I say that Kissinger knew about the problem and deliberately did nothing to discourage Ioannides from acting against the government of Cyprus.
Fortunately Makarios survived although the coup succeeded and Nikos Sampson was put in as President. Kissinger’s actions on July 15, 1974 and succeeding days are why I contend that Kissinger encouraged and helped initiate the invasion of Cyprus on July 20, 1974.
On July 15, 1974 the UN Security Council called an emergency session, but Kissinger had it postponed until Friday the 19th. Then on Wednesday, July 17, 1974, with Makarios in England meeting with the British Prime Minister as head of state, the State Department leaked a statement that the State Department was leaning towards recognizing Sampson over the legitimate President Makarios. That leak by “a high official” became the lead story on Thursday, July 18, 1974, on the front page of the New York Times. This was done deliberately to give Turkey time to prepare to invade and the excuse to invade.
If Kissinger had denounced the coup on Monday, July 15, 1974 as even Britain did and most nations around the world did, the coup would have failed, the junta would have been thrown out and there would never have been an invasion of Cyprus. That’s why I say that Kissinger was responsible for the tragedy of Cyprus in 1974.
It’s important to realize today, what is the Cyprus issue? As Ted Carpenter pointed out, the Annan Plan, which failed by a 76% vote, has now really been discredited throughout the world except for certain elements in the State Department. The important book by Claire Palley details the British maneuvering and setting up the plan with the unfortunate acquiescence of the U.S.
If you want to do something now, you have to recognize that the Cyprus issue is one of aggression and occupation. If the U.S., the EU and the UN recognize this and have the political will to act we can get something done. The following actions are needed by the U.S. in its own best interests and if it wants to be an “honest broker” in the Cyprus dispute:
1. Call for the immediate removal of Turkey’s armed forces. We need to follow the same policy we used regarding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
2. Call for the immediate removal of Turkey’s 120,000 illegal settlers from Turkey.
3. Call for the “tearing down” of Turkey’s barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus.
4. Support the Cyprus government’s offer to open the Famagusta port under joint Greek and Turkish Cypriot operation under the EU supervision coupled with the return of Varosha for the resettlement of upwards of 35,000 Greek Cypriot refugees under UN supervision.
5. State publicly its support of former President George H. W. Bush’s statement of July 7, 1988 as Vice President of the U.S. and as presidential candidate of the Republican Party:
“We seek for Cyprus a constitutional democracy based on majority rule, the rule of law, and the protection of minority rights….I want to see a democratic Cyprus free from the threat of war.”
6. Call for compensation from Turkey to the 180,000 Greek Cypriot victims, forced from their homes and properties, for damages suffered and for loss of use of their homes and properties
Accepting the Turkish position that the troops and settlers and barbed wire fence are part of the negotiations has made the U.S. an accomplice in Turkey’s invasion and occupation. The logic is as simple as that.”