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Media Watch 2007

27 April 2007
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author:
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 27 April 2007.
Greek-American groups call for sanctions against Turkey over Cyprus
GREEK-American groups called on the US government to impose economic sanctions and an arms embargo against Turkey if it continues its illegal occupation of north Cyprus.

"GREEK-American groups called on the US government to impose economic sanctions and an arms embargo against Turkey if it continues its illegal occupation of north Cyprus.

The call was made in the annual 'Greek American Policy Statements' (GAPS) issued this week that are endorsed by key membership organisations of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI).

The statements were initiated several years ago by AHI President Gene Rossides with the purpose of informing Greek American organisations in detail on US relations with Greece and Cyprus and in order to achieve policy unity.

Rossides points out that Turkey, under threat of expulsion from the Council of Europe, finally complied with the ruling of the European Court and paid $1.3m in damages to Titina Loizidou for the violation of her property rights in the occupied area. He adds that this "demonstrates that forceful action regarding Turkey will bring results.

"We call for payments to all similarly-situated Greek Cypriots and other owners of property in the occupied area, including American owners. We also note that Turkey has not implemented that part of the ruling which called for the restitution of Loizidou's property.''

Rossides explains that in the section dealing with Cyprus the statements discuss the present status of the Cyprus problem and set forth the organisation's policies.

This heading also includes a new initiative, the GAPS suggestion that President Bush invite Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos for a state visit in recognition of:

(1) Cyprus' extraordinary efforts under President Papadopoulos' leadership in evacuating 14,000 Americans from Lebanon;

(2) President Papadopoulos' initiative with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on February 28, 2006 and joint press conference; and

(3) the subsequent agreement of July 8, 2006 between President Papadopoulos and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat initiated by UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.

A summary of the statement by Rossides says: "The Cyprus paragraphs set forth our basic positions: The removal of all Turkish troops and demilitarisation of Cyprus; the return to Turkey of the 140,000 illegal settlers/colonists from Turkey in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949; the tearing down of Turkey's barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus; and support of "a constitutional democracy based on majority rule, the rule of law, and the protection of minority rights" as stated by former President George H. W. Bush on July 7, 1988 in a speech in Boston.

In addition to economic sanctions and an arms embargo, the U.S. should consider removing trade and other benefits if Turkey refuses to:

(1) remove its illegal occupation forces in Cyprus;
(2) end its illegal 33 years of occupation of nearly 40 percent of Cyprus;
(3) remove the Turkish barbed wire fence across Cyprus;
(4) restore the property illegally taken in the northern occupied area of Cyprus to its rightful owners;
(5) return the 140,000 illegal Turkish colonists/settlers in Cyprus to Turkey;
(6) open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft as required by documents Turkey signed in order to commence EU accession talks; and
(7) stop its violations against Greece's territorial integrity in the Aegean and in Greek airspace.

Turkey's invasion and occupation troops in northern Cyprus and Turkey's barbed wire fence are the cause of the Turkish Cypriot economic isolation, not the Government of Cyprus' adherence to the rule of law.''

The GAPS statement also deals with religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the reopening of the Halki Theological School illegally closed in 1971.

The statement calls for a "Critical Review of U.S. Policy Toward Turkey Needed." It states that Turkey is the main cause of the problems in its region; that Turkey is hardly a model for the Muslim world or for anyone; that Turkey is a proven unreliable ally not only regarding Iraq but also during the Cold War when Turkey actively aided the Soviet military to the serious detriment of the US.

"The US, in its own best interests should critically review and reassess its relations with Turkey."

It further calls for the payment of "Compensation and Damages to Turkey's Victims." The GAPS cite the compensation and damages paid by the government of Germany to holocaust victims and to Israel, and the government of Japan to the victims of its actions in Asia before and during World War II.

The GAPS call on the U.S. government to press Turkey to pay compensation and damages:
- to the victims of Turkey's illegal invasion of Cyprus of 1974;
- to the owners of property in Cyprus, including American owners, illegally taken, occupied and exploited by the Turkish authorities and individuals since 1974 and for preventing the lawful owners from using their property;
- to the victims of the September 1955 Turkish pogrom against its Greek citizens in Istanbul;
- to the victims of the Turkish massacre of the Greek and Armenian populations of Smyrna (now Izmir) in 1922 under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's orders; and
- to the victims of Turkey's Armenian Genocide in 1915-1923. "