Bush's Legacy and Turkey and Cyprus

By Gene Rossides

There have been a number of recent articles on the current low status of President Bush’s standing with the public in view of the war in Iraq, the indictment of Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff and the issue of torture.

President Bush is counterattacking and stressing his democracy initiative for the Middle East and throughout the world.

As a result questions are being raised as to what his legacy will be as the 43rd President. Bush has three years remaining in his second term to turn things around in Iraq and to strengthen his democracy initiative in order to build a record for his legacy.

The thesis of this article is that unless President Bush alters his administration’s policy on Turkey and Cyprus, his democracy initiative will fail. The administration’s undemocratic position on the Cyprus problem and its double standard on the application of the rule of law to Turkey, the appeasement of Turkey and its failure to press for democratic reforms, make a mockery of Bush’s democracy initiative.

Historians and serious students of history will not overlook the glaring inconsistency in Bush’s rhetoric and his policy and actions regarding Turkey and Cyprus regardless of what happens in Iraq.

President Bush should apply his democracy initiative to Turkey regarding Cyprus by calling for serious and substantial changes in the failed Annan Plan starting with the removal of its undemocratic provisions which granted veto rights over all key legislative and executive decisions to the 18% Turkish Cypriots minority at the expense of the 80% Greek Cypriot majority.

Bush should adopt the policy for Cyprus that his father stated in Boston on July 7, 1988 as Vice President, namely:

“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.”

Bush should also call on Turkey as part of his democracy initiative to remove promptly (1) the 35,000-40,000 illegal Turkish invasion and occupation troops from Cyprus, (2) the 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers and colonists brought from Turkey to Cyprus in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949 and (3) to tear down the infamousTurkish barbed wire Green Line fence across the face of Cyprus.

Bush should also hold Turkey responsible for its invasion of Cyprus and its murders, rapes, the forcing 180,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and property, destruction of churches and property and widespread looting.

To put meaning into his democracy initiative Bush also needs to address Turkey’s lack of full democracy. Freedom House in its annual survey calls Turkey only a partial democracy.

When is Bush going to publicly call for full human and political rights for Turkey’s 20% Kurdish minority?

When is Bush going to condemn the Turkish military’s brutal attacks on its Kurdish citizens?

When is Bush going to publicly call for civilian control of the Turkish military. John Tirman, Executive Director of the Center for International Studies at MIT, in an article in the Boston Globe, November 30, 2005, titled “ The Trouble with Turkey” discussed the Turkish military’s anti-free speech activities and its actions against the Kurds. He wrote:

“Suppression of free speech is not the only problem. Turkish forces recently bumbled a covert operation in the Kurdish areas of southeast Turkey, where they planted and exploded bombs to make it appear that the old Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, remained active and a threat to state security. It’s not the first time such nefarious activities have been exposed.”

Mr. Tirman ties in the actions of the military forces to their opposition to E.U. membership. He wrote:

“These are the actions of the ‘deep State,’ part of the permanent governing structure -- security forces, intelligence operatives, paramilitaries -- which abhor the possibility of European Union standards being applied to them. So they create phony crises and arbitrary prosecutions to subvert those in Turkey who seek E.U. membership.”

Mr. Tirman bluntly states that Turkey is “firmly in the grip of hard-line militarists.” President Bush should act by calling for real civilian control of the military and its budget.

A key principle of democracy is religious freedom. Ever since Kemal Ataturk took over as the leader of the Turkish military in 1922 and then as the dictatorial head of Turkey until his death in 1937, Turkey has been anti-christian and has steadily removed Greek Orthodox Christians so that today only 2,000 to 3,000 remain from over 2 million in the 1920’s.

Ataturk led the genocide against the Pontian Greeks in which 350,000 were killed and the burning of Smyrna. In 1955, the Turkish government under Prime Minister Menderes organized the infamous pogrom against the 100,000 Greeks of Istanbul and the Greek Orthodox Churches detailed by Professor Speros Vryonis, Jr. in his monumental book The Mechanism of Catastrophe: The Turkish Pogrom of September 6-7, 1955, and the Destruction of the Greek Community of Istanbul, published this year.

Turkey continues to this day its actions, some subtle, must overt, against the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarch, the first among equals of the Eastern Orthodox Christian religion. In 1971, Turkey illegally closed the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology. For the past several years, Turkey has been illegally taking church property.

The Bush administration has been all talk and no action regarding religious freedom in Turkey. If Bush wants to put meaning into his democracy initiative he should act vigorously regarding Turkey’s violations of religious freedom which U.S. law requires him to do. Specifically, the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) was enacted into law in 1998 following a unanimous vote by Congress. IRFA provides for up to 15 actions which the President could take against Turkey.

And if Turkey does not respond adequately then economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation should be adopted. At a minimum the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology should be reopened at once and the Turkish government should publicly acknowledge the Ecumenical Patriarch as head of a universal church.

You, the reader can help. Call and write to the following and request action against Turkey as part of the president’s democracy initiative.

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
202-456-1111 (Comments)
202-456-1414 (Main Switchboard)

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
202-647-4000 (Main Switchboard)

Chief of Staff Andrew Card
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
202-456-1111 (Comments)

Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
202-456-1111 (Comments)

Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Get active, you can make a difference.

Gene Rossides is President of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury

For more information about the American Hellenic Institute in Washington, D.C., contact Georgia Economou, Director of Public Relations for AHI, at (202) 785-8430 or at georgia@ahiworld.org, or visit the groups' website at http://www.ahiworld.org. AHI was founded in 1974 following Turkey's illegal invasion and occupation of 37.3% of Cyprus. It is a membership-based organization with members throughout the nation. AHI's core mission is to promote American values and the rule of law in U.S. foreign policy and to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Greece and Cyprus as being in the best interests of the United States. It conducts an active program with Congress in espousing and supporting legislation designed to promote American interests in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean and is registered with the Congress under the Lobbying Act. The AHI Foundation is the first think-tank devoted exclusively to the study of the issues confronting the Greek American community. This organization sponsors conferences, seminars and publishes books and other materials on the issues.

HCS maintains an extensive archives for AHI articles and press releases which visitors may browse under the American Hellenic Institute Releases section of the archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archiveahi.html.

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