Cyprus Still Occupied, Still Divided
By Mariam Khaloyan (@mariamkhaloyan)
AAA News Blog
July 29, 2015
The consequences of Turkey’s armed incursion of Cyprus in 1974 compound, to this day, a sore point in the modern history of the island: military invasion, division, demolition of human rights, extensive foreign settlements, social decay, and property seizure, and ethnic exclusion. This has been the status quo of the island for 41 years.
Last week, the Armenian Assembly of America Terjenian-Thomas summer interns had an opportunity to meet with Nick Larigakis, President of American Hellenic Institute and attend the commemoration of the 41st anniversary of the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus.
The commemoration included powerful remarks from Members of Congress, such as Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Dina Titus (D-NV), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Brad Sherman (D-CA). In addition to Members of Congress, Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Christos Panagopoulos, Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. George Chacalli, and AHI President Nick Laragakis also addressed the audience on the solemn occasion.
Topics ranged from American-Greek foreign affairs to the long-standing occupation of Cyprus. Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Representative Maloney spoke about Cyprus’ reunification, and the hardship presented to Cyprus due to Turkey’s forty thousand occupying troops. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) addressed the youth in the room by encouraging engagement and the need of new compassionate members who partake in the Greek American affairs. Brad Sherman (D-CA) pointed out, “It’s important to remain effective during this difficult time and with a difficult government in Ankara.” Representative Sarbanes spoke on behalf of future prospects for peace with the commemoration of the invasion of Turkey in Cyprus over 40 years ago, “As negotiations continue in Cyprus, there will be critical moments when I hope the U.S. administration will step in,” said Sarbanes. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen stated, “The illegal occupation of Turkey in Cyprus has left thousands denied their right to return to their homes in Cyprus.”
The U.S. Congress has long sustained engagement in a resolution of the Cyprus conflict. Lack of a negotiated agreement extends to relations between Turkey and the European Union (EU), Turkey and Greece, and EU and NATO. The situation also warrants attention because of the U.S. interest in a strong relationship with Turkey and the prospect that the Eastern Mediterranean could play an important role in energy development.
The American Hellenic Institute, Inc. (AHI) was founded on August 1, 1974, following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus with the illegal use of American-supplied arms in violation of U.S. laws and agreements. AHI initiated the rule of law issue in the Congress in the interests of the U.S., thus changing the face of American politics. In the years since 1974, AHI has kept the spirit of the rule of law alive. AHI and its affiliate organizations have championed the rule of law and American values in foreign policy as in the best interests of the U.S. This is especially true in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, a region critically important to American national interests.
The Armenian Assembly, for its part, will always stand with our Greek and Cypriot compatriots in our common struggle for freedom and justice.
Additional photographs are available here.
Mariam Khaloyan is an intern with the Armenian National Institute as a participant in the Armenian Assembly of America’s Terjenian-Thomas Summer Internship Program in Washington, DC. Mariam is a senior studying Psychology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.