Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas of the American Hellenic Progressive Association (AHEPA), issued the following statement with regard to the 37th anniversary of the invasion and subsequent occupation of Cyprus.
“Today, July 20, marks a somber day as we observe the 37th anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus by the Republic of Turkey. This was, and remains to this very day, an intolerable act; one that is a gross violation of the rule of law, human rights, and democratic ideals. We pause to remember the innocent civilians who lost their lives and the thousands who went missing, including four American citizens whose investigations remain incomplete. The illegal invasion and occupation caused the displacement of 170,000 Greek Cypriot refugees, including my family, who to this day are unable to return to their homes which is also a violation of human rights as determined by the European Commission on Human Rights.”
“The ongoing direct talks between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Dervis Eroglu, under the scope of the high-level UN Agreement of July 8, 2006, have provided minimal tangible progress toward a settlement to reunify Cyprus. This is due to the latter’s hardline positions that continue to present proposals outside UN parameters and European Union principles. It is our hope the July 7, 2011 meeting between the two sides and the UN secretary-general in Geneva will impress upon the Turkish Cypriot side the importance of presenting specific positions on the fundamental issues that are founded under UN parameters. This will help the process going forward.”
“However, the key to a successful settlement also rests in Ankara. We call on the U.S. government to convey a strong message to Turkey that it must provide the Turkish Cypriot community with the necessary freedom to negotiate a solution within the July 8 framework, and equally as important, facilitate the removal of 43,000 of its troops from the island.”
“Therefore, we restate our call for a reunified Cyprus with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship; and with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded as described in the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. We contend that such a solution is in the best interest of all Cypriots, and must emanate from Cypriots themselves without arbitrary timetables.
“Furthermore, on this ‘black anniversary’ we call on Turkey to begin the removal of its 43,000 troops from Cyprus. These are troops that as American citizens we contend would serve a better purpose, especially to NATO, in another theatre such as Afghanistan as opposed to Cyprus where there have been more than 15 million incident-free crossings by Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
“We call for these actions in the best interests of the United States. A just and viable solution to the division of Cyprus will strengthen the eastern Mediterranean and bring peace and security to the region. Furthermore, it will aid Turkey’s candidacy to become a member of the European Union.
“Our hope is that we will no longer need to observe this ‘black anniversary,’ but instead, celebrate the anniversary of a settlement. AHEPA remains committed to doing all within its power to keep the Cyprus issue in the public eye until a just and viable solution is realized.”