Senator Menendez Makes Sure Incoming Ambassador to Cyprus Knows the Island is Occupied

The nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Judith G. Garber was reluctant to acknowledge that there are currently Turkish occupying troops in Cyprus, during her nomination hearing at the U.S. Senate.

Despite repeated questions by Senator Robert Menendez at the Foreign Relations Committee, the American diplomat was trying to evade the fact that there are thousands of Turkish troops stationed on the island.

Garber referred to the “tragic events” of 1974 that lead to “Turkish intervention” and the U.S. support for the UN resolutions. “The U.S. supports efforts to reunite the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation,” she said.

Senator Menendez pressed her hard to acknowledge that there is a Turkish occupation of the island. “If we are not prepared to accept a factual reality, then we are in trouble in terms of how we move forward,” he told her.

Eventually, after some hesitation, Garber acknowledged that there are Turkish troops in the island, adding that “this issue is one of the most sensitive issues in the negotiations.”

Garber also said that the U.S. acknowledges the right of the Republic of Cyprus to the resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone. “We believe that they should be shares equatable within the context of an overall settlement,” she added.