I take no pleasure in writing this article which indicts the State Department as a lawless institution regarding U.S. relations with Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.
The facts are clear and not in dispute. The list of actions and inactions by the State Department in violation of the rule of law in U.S. relations with Turkey, Greece and Cyprus is as follows:
Aegean Sea Boundary
Turkey has made claim to one-half of the Aegean Sea and refuses to take its claim to the International Court of Justice at the Hague for a binding ruling. The U.S. has refused repeated requests by the American Hellenic Institute to publicly state that it accepts as final the treaty-defined demarcation of the maritime border between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea.
The relevant agreements are the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, the Italy-Turkey Convention of January 4, 1932, the Italy-Turkey Protocol of December 28, 1932 and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty, under which the Dodecanese Islands and adjacent islets were ceded by Italy to Greece.
The U.S. is a signatory to the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty and is obligated by U.S. law to carry out its provisions. The State Department has refused to publicly declare what the law is. It should do so now. The U.S. should also vigorously repudiate any challenge to the treaty-defined boundary and should urge Turkey to submit its claim to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
In the January 1996 Imia islet crisis the Clinton administration succeeded in preventing an armed clash between Greece and Turkey. President Clinton and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke were the key actors. However, after the crisis they refused to state publicly what the Aegean Sea boundary was under the relevant treaties and that the Imia islet was sovereign Greek territory.
Aegean Sea airspace
Turkey for decades has violated Greek airspace in the Aegean Sea and the U.S. State Department has stood silent and has refused to state what international law and agreements provide. This dangerous situation persists today because of Turkey’s illegal conduct and the State Department’s refusal to act to uphold the law.
On July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus with the illegal use of U.S.-supplied arms and equipment in violation of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, the UN Charter article 2 (4), the preamble and article 1 of the NATO Treaty and customary international law. Turkey occupied about four percent of Cyprus during the initial phase of its invasion. Turkish pilots flying American planes dropped American-made bombs (including napalm bombs), terrorizing and killing innocent Greek Cypriot civilians in Nicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia, and elsewhere.
Turkey’s invasion had the support and encouragement of then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who knew in advance Turkey planned to invade Cyprus and refused to use the U.S. Sixth Fleet or otherwise act to prevent the invasion, as requested by U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Henry Tasca. Kissinger refused to denounce Turkey's aggression, as Britain and most other nations did. He refused to enforce U.S. laws requiring an immediate halt in U.S. arms to Turkey, though he had the statutory obligation to do so. He also violated his oath of office by failing to do so.
On August 14, 1974, three weeks after the legitimate government of Cyprus was restored, Turkey launched the second phase of its invasion of Cyprus. This was also encouraged by the State Department. The day before Kissinger had authorized a statement by the State Department's spokesman, Ambassador Robert Anderson, that the Turkish Cypriots needed more protection. The State Department failed to denounce the second phase of Turkey’s aggression and failed to uphold U.S. laws requiring an immediate halt in U.S.- supplied arms.
In the second phase of the aggression, Turkey grabbed another 33 percent of the island, expanding its land grab to a total of 37.3 percent of Cyprus’s sovereign territory, killed innocent civilians, raped women from the ages of 12-71, forced 180,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and property and committed massive destruction of property including churches. The European Commission on Human Rights issued a report on July 10, 1976 on the charges made in two applications by the Cyprus government. In the report the Commission found Turkey guilty of violating the following articles of the European Convention on Human Rights:
(1) Article 2 by the killing of innocent civilians committed on a substantial scale;
(2) Article 3 by the rape of women of all ages from 12 to 71;
(3) Article 3 by the inhuman treatment of prisoners and persons detained;
(4) Article 5 by deprivation of liberty with regard to detainees and missing persons a continuing violation;
(5) Article 8 by the displacement of persons creating more than 170,000 Greek Cypriot refugees, and by refusing to allow the refugees to return to their homes a continuing violation;
(6) Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention by deprivation of possessions, looting and robbery on an extensive scale.
On January 23, 1977, the London Sunday Times published excerpts of the report on its front page and stated: “It amounts to a massive indictment of the Ankara government for the murder, rape and looting by its army in Cyprus during and after the Turkish invasion of summer 1974.”
The State Department refused to comment on the report. The Turkish army has continued to occupy this territory since 1974. It is an affront to the international legal order and a continuing threat to regional stability.
The invasion and Turkey’s continuing occupation have drawn universal international condemnation, as reflected in UN resolutions, statements by members of Congress and from many nations, and various court decisions in Europe, but not from the State Department. The State Department should not only have condemned the invasion but should have called for a war crimes tribunal for the Turkish military involved in these heinous war crimes.
Turkey’s illegal settlers/colonists
To secure its land grab of Cypriot territory, Turkey has illegally settled northern occupied Cyprus with one hundred and twenty thousand Turks from Anatolia in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, section III, art. 4, which prohibits colonization by an occupying power. The State Department refused to denounce the illegal colonization when it started and continues to refuse to apply the law and call for the immediate removal of the settlers/colonists.
Invasion V. intervention
The State Department, incredible as it may seem, refuses to call Turkey’s invasion an invasion. The State Department calls it intervention. The U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson refused to call it invasion when he met with an American Hellenic Institute delegation these past two years and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza refused to call it invasion at an AHEPA sponsored panel on September 9, 2005.
Turkey’s illegal transfer of U.S. tanks
Turkey illegally transferred earlier this year U.S.-supplied tanks to the Turkish army in occupied Cyprus in violation of a specific U.S. law that prohibits such transfers to Cyprus, namely 22 U.S.C. section 2373 which absolutely prohibits the transfer of U.S. arms to Cyprus by Turkey. Yet the State Department spokesman, former U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Richard Boucher, not only refused to denounce the illegal transfer as in violation of U.S. law, he actually said it was legal because the tanks were in the custody of the Turkish military in occupied Cyprus, a blatantly false statement.
Illegal entry to occupied Cyprus
The next example of the State Department’s lawlessness involves the illegal entry into occupied Cyprus by U.S. officials and members of Congress this year directly through the illegal Tymbou airport in occupied Cyprus in violation of the sovereignty of Cyprus and its laws and in violation of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation to which the U.S. and Cyprus are signatories. The State Department actually told the members of Congress it was not illegal to enter Cyprus directly through the illegal Tymbou airport, another blatantly false statement.
The Annan Plan
The State Department’s unqualified support of the Annan Plan is another prime example of lawlessness. The Annan Plan was replete with violations of the rule of law -- from the removal of the Greek Cypriots right to sue in the courts for damages -- to the removal of their legal rights to the sea bed bordering the British bases in Cyprus. The illegality extended to outright corruption in absolving the aggressor Turkey of its war crimes and requiring the victims, the Greek Cypriots to pay for the damages they suffered from Turkey’s invasion.
Further, in my judgement the State Department’s support of the veto power by the 18% Turkish minority over all legislative and executive actions was and is illegal. The U.S. Constitution grants enumerated powers to the Executive Branch. Nowhere does the Constitution grant to the Executive Branch the authority to support minority rule over the majority in foreign affairs.
The State Department has misled the American people on the law regarding what a country can call itself. When the State Department on November 4, 2004 reversed its policy and recognized the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as the “Republic of Macedonia,” State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said that since the name Macedonia is the name “that the government and the people of Macedonia have chosen for their country, that’s the name we will recognize them under.”
That premise is false. There is no unqualified universally accepted rule of international law that authorizes a state to name itself anything it wants. The Macedonia issue stems from the 1991 secessionist Skopje regime’s naming itself in the most provocative way possible as the so called “Republic of Macedonia” and requesting worldwide recognition.
It is not proper for a country, which is part of a region to define itself in an official manner as representing the whole region. Macedonia, like the Americas, Europe, Scandinavia, and the Balkans, is a region. Just as no country in North and South America would call itself the “American Republic,” and no European country would call itself the “Republic of Europe,” FYROM in naming itself cannot assume the mantle of Macedonia.
Turkey and its Kurds
Since 1984 Turkey has waged a relentless campaign of ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide against its 15 million Kurdish citizens. The Turkish military killed over 30,000 innocent Kurds and destroyed 3,000 Kurdish villages creating three million Kurdish displaced persons. The State Department not only failed to denounce Turkey’s actions, it encouraged them with economic and military aid during much of this period which has made the U.S. an accessory to Turkey’s crimes. The key State Department official supporting Turkey was Marc Grossman, a former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey and recently retired Under Secretary of State.
The State Department also refused to denounce Turkey’s several invasions of northern Iraq and indeed Mr. Grossman encouraged them.
The State Department’s lawless conduct regarding U.S. relations with Cyprus, Greece and Turkey makes a mockery of Bush’s democracy initiative for the Middle East and elsewhere. The rule of law is fundamental to Bush’s democracy initiative.
Bush’s legacy will be damaged by (1) the failure to adhere to the rule of law in U.S. relations with Turkey, Greece and Cyprus and (2) the failure to support the rule of law and democratic norms for a Cyprus settlement.
The Greek Cypriots worked hard to recover from the devastation of the Turkish invasion and adhered in all their efforts to the rule of law. The State Department should do the same.
Gene Rossides is President of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury