Remarks from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) to the American Hellenic Institute Conference

Jul 28, 1999
Press Release
In the past decade we have witnessed great advances for peace and justice throughout the world. We have witnessed the end of the cold war and break-up of the Soviet Union. We have seen the triumph of democracy in South Africa and movement toward peace in the Middle East and in Northern Ireland. These events have been beacons of hope for us all. In the light of these advances, the situation in Cyprus is all the more tragic for that island remains divided by the shackles of occupation and oppression. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the brutal Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus. You don't have to be a Cypriot to feel outrage and pain that parts of Cyprus have been occupied for 25 years.

You don't have to be a Cypriot to feel kinship with the fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers of those missing and unaccounted for 25 years. You don't have to be a Cypriot to feel the sadness of being separated from your family and unable to return to your home.

And, you don't have to be a Cypriot to fight for justice and peace for the people of Cyprus. 25 years is too long for inaction and it is too long for us to stand by silently while Turkey continues ethnic cleansing Cypriot style.

The invasion of Cyprus and the continued presence of 35,000 Turkish troops represent a gross violation of human rights and international law. During the invasion, nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots were expelled from their homes in a blatant example of ethnic cleansing.

It is time for the United States to take a vocal role in speaking out against the division of Cyprus and the horrible atrocities that have happened there. Denktash is still refusing to sit down and negotiate even though the United Nations Security Council adopted two new Resolutions regarding the situation in Cyprus. These resolutions request the Secretary Genereal to invite the Clerides and Denktash to negotiations this fall, without preconditions. As you know, Denktash has continued to insist on two unfeasible preconditions. He insists that the occupied area of Cyprus must be recognized by the international community as a legal and separate state. He has also insisted that Cyprus withdraw its application for accession into the European Union. Two preconditions that cannot obviously not be met.

Last week, Congressman Bilirakis and I introduced a resolution calling on the United States to join its voice in calling for a solution based on these UN resolutions. The time is now for us to use all of our influence on Turkey to obtain peace in Cyprus.

The momentum in Congress is growing. Take, for instance, the Hellenic Caucus.

There are 76 members of the Hellenic Caucus this year which is up from 69 last Congress.

Tomorrow we are going to meet with Thomas West, the new Special Cyprus Coordinator. I look forward to working with him and all of you to find an acceptable solution to Cyprus. We in the United States must stand ready to assist the Greek Cypriots in their 25 year struggle for lasting peace an justice on Cyprus.

We must not let the world forget this tragedy, and we must not turn our backs on the people of Cyprus.