The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest Greek-American organization in the United States, has issued a statement on the 44th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the Mediterranean island’s subsequent illegal occupation.
“This was, and remains to this very day, an intolerable act; one that is a gross violation of the rule of law, human rights, and democratic ideals,” AHEPA Supreme President Carl R. Hollister said.
He said that the invasion and occupation caused “the displacement of at least 180,000 Greek Cypriot refugees who to this day are unable to return to their homes which is also a violation of human rights.”
In the same statement, the AHEPA chief expressed his hope that the two sides will restart talks to reunify the island under the terms of a United Nations-sponsored initiative.
“With the appointment of a new United Nations envoy, it is our hope the two sides resume their dialogue and work to resolve difficult issues, especially regarding security and guarantees,” Hollister said.
“We restate our call for a reunified Cyprus with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship; and with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded,” he said adding that a sustainable solution would be in the best interest of the US.
Bellow is the full statement:
"Today we observe a somber day-the 44th anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus by the Republic of Turkey, a NATO-member country. This was, and remains to this very day, an intolerable act; one that is a gross violation of the rule of law, human rights, and democratic ideals. We pause to remember the innocent civilians who lost their lives and the individuals who went missing, including five American citizens, four of whose investigations remain incomplete. The illegal invasion and occupation caused the displacement of at least 180,000 Greek Cypriot refugees who to this day are unable to return to their homes which is also a violation of human rights as determined by the European Commission on Human Rights. Moreover, Turkey's restrictions upon religious freedom and destruction of Cyprus's cultural and religious heritage in Turkish-occupied Cyprus have been well-documented by the US Helsinki Commission, the Law Library of Congress, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and several media publications.
With the appointment of a new United Nations envoy, it is our hope the two sides resume their dialogue and work to resolve difficult issues, especially regarding security and guarantees. Further, Turkish intransigence, which clearly was evident at the Conference on Cyprus last year, must be forsaken. Turkey must abandon its insistence to be a Guarantor Power of a reunified Cyprus, essentially the right to intervene, especially as the security of all Cypriots in a unified, EU-member Cyprus would be provided by the EU. Again, we urge the US government to convey a strong message to Turkey that it must play a constructive role in the movement of confidence-building measures, which includes the removal of 40,000 Turkish troops from the island. We contend these troops would serve a better purpose elsewhere, especially to NATO, as opposed to Cyprus.
Further, we restate our call for a reunified Cyprus with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship; and with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded as described in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We contend such a solution is in the best interest of all Cypriots and must emanate from Cypriots themselves without arbitrary timetables.
These actions are in the best interests of the United States, which has conveyed appreciation for the 'strategic partnership' it has with the Republic of Cyprus. A just and viable solution to the division of Cyprus will strengthen the Eastern Mediterranean and bring peace and security to the region. This is especially important due to the discovery and potential exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves within the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus by multinational energy firms, including American ones, that could provide Europe with energy security. However, Turkey has wasted no time taking threatening measures toward Cyprus and the multinational energy companies that rightfully intend to explore within Cyprus's exclusive economic zone.
We state adamantly 44 years is too long. Our hope is that we will no longer need to observe this 'black anniversary,' but instead, celebrate the anniversary of a settlement. AHEPA remains committed to doing all within its power, and pledges to continue to work with all organizations, to keep the Cyprus issue in the public eye until a just and viable solution that benefits all Cypriots is realized."