Greek National Issues in Washington and the «War of Interests»

U.S. Newspaper “Washington Post” refers to a “war of interests” in the U.S. Capital, recording several long-term conflicts and problems, such as the case of Cyprus, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Armenian community’s persecution within Turkey.

The article also presents the views of representatives from organizations dealing with Hellenic issues, but also experts on ethnic conflict issues, such as Fred Turner, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Independent U.S. Helsinki Commission, who refers to Turkish – Cypriot acts to present the occupied regions of Cyprus, the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC) as they call it, as an independent country.

According to Mr. Turner, the TRNC has an office at K Street in Washington, and those who stay there consider Turkish Cyprus an independent country, even though the U.S. Government does not recognize the region as an independent country, noting at the same time that “it’s known to the rest of the region as occupied Northern Cyprus, separated since Turkish troops invaded in 1974”.

Mr. Turner also notes that when the Helsinki Commission recently held a hearing on the destruction of religious properties in occupied Cyprus, representatives of the Turkish embassy were “upset” and “asked that the hearing’s name be changed”, adding that “the commission invited the Turkish Government to participate, but it declined”.

Nick Laryngakis, President of the American Hellenic Institute, which promotes U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus, “and is often at odds with Turkey’s goals”, stated; “our arsenal is not weapons” and “it’s having a voice in Washington where we can use the rule of law to provide credibility to our arguments”.

Mike Manatos, who along with his father Andy Manatos, are running one of “Washington’s most powerful lobbyist firms”, stated that Turkey was denying religious freedom to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, head of the Greek Orthodox minority in Istanbul, and spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians, “but steady lobbying by the Greek community here to recent administrations helped pressure Turkey to improve religious freedoms there”. He added that “Washington is far and away the most effective place if you want your issues addressed”.