WASHINGTON, DC—Supreme President Andrew C. Zachariades has issued a statement to mark the the 43rd anniversary of the illegal invasion and subsequent occupation of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey that occurred July 20, 1974:
"Tomorrow, we mark a somber day—the 43rd 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 four American citizens whose investigations remain incomplete. The illegal invasion and occupation caused the displacement of 170,000 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' cultural and religious heritage in Turkish-occupied Cyprus have been well-documented by the U.S. Helsinki Commission, the Law Library of Congress, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and several media publications.
"In the wake of the Conference on Cyprus, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, which closed disappointingly without an agreement, and after intensive talks for the past two years, the two sides must resume their dialogue and work to resolve difficult issues, especially regarding security and guarantees, among others, that would lead to a positive outcome in a referendum. Turkish intransigence, which unfortunately was on full display at the Conference on Cyprus, must be abandoned. Again, we urge the U.S. 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, especially to NATO, in another theater, as opposed to Cyprus.
"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 U.N. 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. 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 with the discovery and potential exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves within the exclusive economic zones of the Republic of Cyprus and Israel by energy firms, including an American one, that could provide the EU and other United States allies in the region with energy security. However, as we've already seen post-Crans-Montana, Turkey has wasted no time taking threatening measures toward Cyprus and the energy companies that are rightfully exploring within Cyprus' exclusive economic zone.
"We say 43 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.”
The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA) is the leading membership-based association for the nation's millions of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes.
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Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles that undergirded its fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
AHEPA's mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.
For more information, please visit www.ahepa.org.