AHI Protests Rice Meeting with Talat

AHI Sends Letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Regarding her Forthcoming Meeting
with Turkish Cypriot Leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat

WASHINGTON, DC—On October 26, 2005, AHI President Gene Rossides sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regarding her forthcoming meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat on October 28, 2005. The text of the letter follows:

October 26, 2005
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
State Department
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

On behalf of our nation-wide membership, I write to protest your decision to invite Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat to meet with you on October 28, 2005. This decision is not in the best interests of the United States as it relates to supporting a just and viable solution to the 31-year old Cyprus problem caused by Turkey’s illegal invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Your invitation to Mr. Talat only encourages continued intransigence by Mr. Talat.

To begin, the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (referred to as the TRNC) is an illegal entity under international law and is not recognized by any nation in the world except for Turkey.

Turkey’s illegal 1974 invasion of the sovereign Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish army’s continuing illicit occupation of 37.3 percent of the island – accomplished with the unlawful use of U.S. arms – are violations of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, article 2 (4) of the UN Charter, and the North Atlantic Treaty.

The Turkish occupation violates several UN resolutions, such as the unanimous UN General Assembly Resolution 3212, passed on November 1, 1974, which called for the removal of all foreign military forces. It also violates Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 365, passed on December 13, 1974 to endorse Resolution 3212. Furthermore, the continued presence of Turkish troops and unauthorized Turkish settlers in the region is illegal.

Unfortunately, ever since 76% of the Greek Cypriots voted against the undemocratic, unworkable and financially not viable, Annan Plan, the Department of State has been openly looking for ways to shift the blame on to the Greek Cypriots by pursuing certain incremental measures. These have included:

officials from the Transportation Security Administration conducting inspection of airports in the illegally occupied north;

the illegal authorization by the State Department for direct visits of U.S. officials and members of Congress to the occupied north; and

exploring ways whereby direct U.S. flights can proceed directly to the occupied north.

You yourself stated in an interview with Metehan Demir of Turkey’s Kanal-D TV, with regards to the situation in Cyprus, “…we are looking at what we can do to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots because we, like everyone else, were disappointed that the Annan plan was not adopted. We have taken some steps, direct aid for instance to Turkish Cypriots, but there are probably other things that we should look at doing…”

This policy is shockingly misguided and exhibits a lack of knowledge of the facts regarding the Cyprus problem. It reverses the role of the victim, the Greek Cypriots, and the aggressor, Turkey. I submit to you Madam Secretary that we can “ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots” overnight by asking Turkey to remove:

The 40,000 illegal Turkish occupation troops;

The 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers; and

The Turkish Green Line barbed wire fence.

President Ronald Reagan told Soviet Premier Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall; when is the Bush administration going to tell Turkey to tear down its barbed wire fence and remove its illegal occupation troops and settlers? By according Mr. Talat the privilege of this visit, you are continuing to perpetuate a negative policy toward the Republic of Cyprus, a country [with] which the United States has historically enjoyed a strong bilateral and multilateral relationship.

This meeting can be perceived that U.S. policy is divisive and counterproductive to reaching a fair settlement on Cyprus because it can serve to encourage Turkish Cypriot intransigence.

In addition, this meeting can also be perceived that the U.S. is upgrading politically the illegal regime in northern occupied Cyprus.

Our position should be to support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing the key American principles of majority rule, the rule of law and protection of minority rights, the EU acquis communautaire, UN resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European Courts.

The failure of the U.S. to support majority rule for the 80% Greek Cypriots and protection of minority rights for the 18% Turkish Cypriots makes a travesty of the Bush administration’s democracy initiative for the Middle East and elsewhere.

Further, are you prepared to raise the issue of property rights with Mr. Talat as it relates to numerous Americans who had their property illegally taken from them during the Turkish invasion?

Are you aware that Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced the American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, H.R. 857 on September 14, 2004? The bill provides a forum for U.S. nationals in three different ways:

1.[ it] authorizes the President to cause a claims program to be opened under which the claims of U.S. nationals who Turkey has excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus can be adjudicated by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (referred to as FCSC) and compensated through government to government negotiations between the United States and Turkey;

2. [it] empowers the United States district courts to hear causes of action asserted by U.S. nationals who have been excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus against private persons or entities who occupy or use the property of U.S. nationals in occupied Cyprus; and

3. [ it] empowers the United States district courts to hear causes of action asserted by U.S. nationals who have been excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus against Turkey without having to assert those causes of action under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 as amended.

The bill, which had 21 cosponsors, was reintroduced in Congress on February 16th, 2005.

Finally, Mr. Talat is not the decision-maker regarding the Cyprus problem. Ankara is! Mr. Talat receives his instructions from Turkey, which is the creator, protector and facilitator of this pseudo-regime.

By going through with this meeting and continuing a systematic policy of attempting to up-grade the “TRNC,” including support for a minority veto government, the U.S. is portrayed as not being interested in solving the Cyprus issue in a viable and just manner that is equitable to both sides. A just viable solution to the Cyprus problem would undoubtedly set a great example for the region. Continuing U.S. policy on its present course will only serve to exacerbate the problem and make finding a fair and lasting solution more difficult.

Gene Rossides

cc: Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns
Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Matthew Bryza

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/contents.html.

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