CALLING ON TURKISH-OCCUPIED CYPRUS TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS ARTIFACTS
(House of Representatives - September 28, 2010)

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[Pages H7048-H7052]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




   CALLING ON TURKISH-OCCUPIED CYPRUS TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS ARTIFACTS

  Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the 
resolution (H. Res. 1631) calling for the protection of religious sites 
and artifacts from and in Turkish-occupied areas of northern Cyprus as 
well as for general respect for religious freedom.
  The Clerk read the title of the resolution.
  The text of the resolution is as follows:

                              H. Res. 1631

       Whereas the Government of Turkey invaded the northern area 
     of the Republic of Cyprus on July 20, 1974, and the Turkish 
     military continues to illegally occupy the territory to this 
     day;
       Whereas the Church of Cyprus has filed an application 
     against Turkey with the European Court of Human Rights for 
     violations of freedom of religion and association as Greek 
     Cypriots in the occupied areas are unable to worship freely 
     due to the restricted access to religious sites and continued 
     destruction of the property of the Church of Cyprus;
       Whereas according to the United Nations-brokered Vienna III 
     Agreement of August 2, 1975, ``Greek-Cypriots in the north of 
     the island are free to stay and they will be given every help 
     to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and 
     for the practice of their religion . . .'';
       Whereas according to the Secretary General's Report on the 
     United Nations Operation in Cyprus in June 1996, the Greek 
     Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of the 
     island ``were subjected to severe restrictions and 
     limitations in many basic freedoms, which had the effect of 
     ensuring that inexorably, with the passage of time, the 
     communities would cease to exist.'';
       Whereas the very future and existence of historic Greek 
     Cypriot, Maronite, and Armenian communities are now in grave 
     danger of extinction;
       Whereas the Abbot of the Monastery of the Apostle Barnabas 
     is routinely denied permission to hold services or reside in 
     the monastery of the founder of the Church of Cyprus and the 
     Bishop of Karpass has been refused permission to perform the 
     Easter Service for the few enclaved people in his occupied 
     diocese;
       Whereas there are only two priests serving the religious 
     needs of the enclaved in the Karpas peninsula, Armenians are 
     not allowed access to any of their religious sites or income 
     generating property, and Maronites are unable to celebrate 
     the mass daily in many churches;
       Whereas in the past Muslim Alevis were forced out of their 
     place of prayer and until recently were denied the right to 
     build a new place of worship;
       Whereas under the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, 
     religious sites have been systematically destroyed and a 
     large number of religious and archaeological objects 
     illegally looted, exported, and subsequently sold or traded 
     in international art markets, including an estimated 16,000 
     icons, mosaics, and mural decorations stripped from most of 
     the churches, and 60,000 archaeological items dating from the 
     6th to 20th centuries;
       Whereas at a hearing held on July 21, 2009, entitled 
     ``Cyprus' Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril'' by the U.S. 
     Helsinki Commission, Michael Jansen provided testimony 
     detailing first-hand accounts of Turkish soldiers throwing 
     icons from looted churches onto burning pyres during the 
     Turkish invasion and provided testimonies of how churches 
     were left open to both looters and vandals with nothing done 
     to secure the religious sites by the Turkish forces occupying 
     northern Cyprus;
       Whereas Dr. Charalampos G. Chotzakakoglou also provided 
     testimony to the U.S. Helsinki Commission that around 500 
     churches, monasteries, cemeteries, and other religious sites 
     have been desecrated, pillaged, looted, and destroyed, 
     including one Jewish cemetery;
       Whereas 80 Christian churches have been converted into 
     mosques, 28 are being used by the Turkish army as stores and 
     barracks, 6 have been turned into museums, and many others 
     are used for other nonreligious purposes such as coffee 
     shops, hotels, public baths, nightclubs, stables, cultural 
     centers, theaters, barns, workshops, and one is even used as 
     a mortuary;
       Whereas expert reports indicate that since 2004 several 
     churches have been leveled, such as St. Catherine Church in 
     Gerani which was bulldozed in mid-2008, the northern wall of 
     the Chapel of St. Euphemianos in Lysi which was destroyed by 
     looters as they removed all metal objects within the wall, 
     the Church of the Holy Virgin in the site of Trachonas was 
     used as a dancing school until the Turkish occupiers built a 
     road that destroyed part of it in March 2010, the Church of 
     the Templars was converted into a night club, and the Church 
     of Panagia Trapeza in Acheritou village was used as a sheep 
     stall before it was recently destroyed by looters removing 
     metal objects from medieval graves within the church;
       Whereas the Republic of Cyprus discovered iron-inscribed 
     crosses stolen from Greek cemeteries in the north in trucks 
     owned by a Turkish-Cypriot firm that intended to send them to 
     India to be recycled;
       Whereas United States art dealer Peggy Goldberg was found 
     culpable for illegally marketing 6th century mosaics from the 
     Panagia Kanakaria church because the judge found that a 
     ``thief obtains no title or right of possession of stolen 
     items'' and therefore ``a thief cannot pass any right of 
     ownership . . . to subsequent purchasers.'';
       Whereas the extent of the illicit trade of religious 
     artifacts from the churches in the Turkish occupied areas of 
     northern Cyprus by Turkish black market dealer Aydin Dikmen 
     was exposed following a search of his property by the 
     Bavarian central department of crime which confiscated 
     Byzantine mosaics, frescoes, and icons valued at over =30 
     million;
       Whereas a report prepared by the Law Library of Congress on 
     the ``Destruction of Cultural Property in the Northern Part 
     of Cyprus and Violations of International Law'' for the U.S. 
     Helsinki Commission details what obligations the Government 
     of Turkey has as the occupying power in northern Cyprus for 
     the destruction of religious and cultural property there 
     under international law;
       Whereas the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of 
     Cultural Property During Armed Conflict, of which Turkey is a 
     party, states in article 4(3) that the occupying power 
     undertakes to ``Prohibit, prevent and, if necessary, put a 
     stop to any form of theft, pillage or misappropriation of any 
     acts of vandalism directed against cultural property'';
       Whereas according to the 1970 United Nations Educational, 
     Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on 
     the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, 
     Export and Transfer of Ownership which has been ratified by 
     Cyprus and Turkey, parties are required to take steps to 
     prevent illicit traffic through the adoption of legal and 
     administrative measures and the adoption of an export 
     certificate for any cultural object that is exported, and 
     ``illicit'' refers to any export or transfer of ownership of 
     cultural property under compulsion that arises from the 
     occupation of a country by a foreign power;
       Whereas according to the European Court of Human Rights in 
     its judgment in the case of Cyprus v. Turkey of May 10, 2001, 
     Turkey was responsible for continuing human rights abuses 
     under the European Convention on Human Rights throughout its 
     27-year military occupation of northern Cyprus, including 
     restricting freedom of movement for Greek Cypriots and 
     limiting access to their places of worship and participation 
     in other aspects of religious life;
       Whereas the European Court further ruled that Turkey's 
     responsibility covers the acts of soldiers and subordinate 
     local administrators because the occupying Turkish forces 
     have effective control of the northern part of the Republic 
     of Cyprus;
       Whereas in March 2008, President Christofias and former 
     Turkish Cypriot leader Talat agreed to the setting up of a 
     ``Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage'' with a mandate 
     to engage in ``serious work'' to

[[Page H7049]]

     protect the varied cultural heritage of the entire island;
       Whereas this Committee was developing a list of all 
     cultural heritage sites on the island to create an 
     educational interactive program for the island's youth to 
     understand the shared heritage and to undertake a joint 
     effort to restore the Archangel Michael Church and the Arnvut 
     Mosque;
       Whereas while significant work was done on the Arnvut 
     Mosque, the Archangel Michael Church remains in disrepair; 
     and
       Whereas, on July 16, 2002, and again in 2007, the United 
     States and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus signed a 
     Memorandum of Understanding to impose import restrictions on 
     categories of Pre-Classical and Classical archaeological 
     objects, as well as Byzantine period ecclesiastical and 
     ritual ethnological materials, from Cyprus: Now, therefore, 
     be it
       Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
       (1) expresses appreciation for the efforts of those 
     countries that have restored religious property wrongly 
     confiscated during the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus;
       (2) welcomes the efforts of many countries to address the 
     complex and difficult question of the status of illegally 
     confiscated religious art and artifacts, and urges those 
     countries to continue to ensure that these items are restored 
     to the Republic of Cyprus in a timely, just manner;
       (3) welcomes the initiatives and commitment of the Republic 
     of Cyprus to work to restore and maintain religious heritage 
     sites;
       (4) urges the Government of Turkey to--
       (A) immediately implement the United Nations Security 
     Council Resolutions relevant to Cyprus as well as the 
     judgments of the European Court of Human Rights;
       (B) work to retrieve and restore all lost artifacts and 
     immediately halt destruction on religious sites, illegal 
     archaeological excavations, and traffic in icons and 
     antiquities; and
       (C) allow for the proper preservation and reconstruction of 
     destroyed or altered religious sites and immediately cease 
     all restrictions on freedom of religion for the enclaved 
     Cypriots;
       (5) calls on the United States Commission on International 
     Religious Freedom to investigate and make recommendations on 
     violations of religious freedom in the areas of northern 
     Cyprus under control of the Turkish military;
       (6) calls on the President and the Secretary of State to 
     include information in the annual International Religious 
     Freedom and Human Rights reports on Cyprus that detail the 
     violations of religious freedom and humanitarian law 
     including the continuous destruction of property, lack of 
     justice in restitution, and restrictions on access to holy 
     sites and the ability of the enclaved to freely practice 
     their faith;
       (7) calls on the State Department Office of International 
     Religious Freedom to address the concerns and actions called 
     for in this resolution with the Government of Turkey, OSCE, 
     the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion 
     or Belief, and other international bodies or foreign 
     governments;
       (8) urges OSCE to ensure that member states do not receive 
     stolen Cypriot art and antiquities; and
       (9) urges OSCE to press the Government of Turkey to abide 
     by its international commitments by calling on it to work to 
     retrieve and restore all lost artifacts, to immediately halt 
     destruction on religious sites, illegal archaeological 
     excavations, and traffic in icons and antiquities, to allow 
     for the proper preservation and reconstruction of destroyed 
     or altered religious sites, and to immediately cease all 
     restrictions on freedom of religion for the enclaved 
     Cypriots.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Tanner) 
and the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) each will control 20 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Tennessee.


                             General Leave

  Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include 
extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Tennessee?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation.
  One of the most tragic aspects of Turkey's 1974 invasion of Cyprus 
and subsequent occupation of the northern part of that country has been 
the desecration and destruction of religious property, primarily Greek 
Orthodox, and other manifestations of contempt for freedom of worship.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may 
consume to the author of the resolution, the gentleman from Florida 
(Mr. Bilirakis), a member of the committee.
  Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 1631, 
a resolution calling for protection of religious sites and artifacts 
from and in Turkish-occupied areas of northern Cyprus, as well as for 
general respect for religious freedom.
  First, I would like to recognize my colleagues for this incredible 
bipartisan effort. Thank you so much to Ranking Member Ileana Ros-
Lehtinen and Chairman Berman, not only for their cosponsorship but also 
for assisting in fast-tracking this measure to the House floor.
  Also, thanks to my Hellenic Caucus cochair, Carolyn Maloney, and all 
of my colleagues who are cosponsors, including the U.S. House's 
strongest champion of human rights, Chris Smith. This display of 
bipartisanship illustrates that Congress can work together in a 
collegial spirit when it comes to protecting religious freedom 
throughout the world.
  As cosponsor and cochair of the Hellenic Caucus and member of the 
International Religious Freedom Caucus, we've introduced this measure 
to highlight the continued violations that are taking place on the 
divided island nation of Cyprus. Even as Cyprus celebrates the 50th 
anniversary of its independence, we are reminded that roughly one-third 
of Cyprus continues to be under Turkish military occupation since 1974. 
This resolution demands that Turkey be held responsible for the 
continued violations of humanitarian law with respect to the 
destruction of religious and cultural property in Cyprus.
  The Turkish military, which continues to illegally occupy northern 
Cyprus, has overseen the systematic destruction of religious sites and 
the illegal looting of a large number of religious and archaeological 
objects. When northern Cyprus was invaded, churches were left open to 
looters and to vandals. The Turkish forces, though required to secure 
the religious sites by several conventions to which it is a signatory, 
failed to do so.
  Around 500 churches, monasteries, cemeteries, and other religious 
sites belonging to Greek Cypriots, Armenians, and Maronites have been 
desecrated, pillaged, looted, and destroyed, including one Jewish 
cemetery. Eighty Christian churches have been converted into mosques; 
28 are being used by the Turkish army as stores and barracks, and many 
others are used for other nonreligious purposes such as coffee shops, 
hotels, public baths, nightclubs, stables, theaters, and barns.
  Since 2004, at least 15 churches have been leveled, such as St. 
Catherine's Church in the district of Famagusta, which was bulldozed in 
mid-2008. Additionally, the Church of the Holy Virgin in the site of 
Trachonas was used as a dancing studio until the Turkish occupiers 
built a road that destroyed part of it in March 2010. And the Church of 
the Templars was converted into a nightclub. These are a few examples 
of the destruction that has been overseen by the Turkish military, if 
not directly perpetrated by it.
  Mr. Speaker, this resolution urges the Government of Turkey to 
immediately implement the United Nations Security Council resolutions 
relevant to Cyprus, as well as the judgments of the European Court of 
Human Rights, by retrieving and restoring all lost artifacts and 
immediately halting destruction on religious sites, stopping illegal 
archaeological excavations, and ceasing to traffic in icons and 
antiquities.
  Further, proper preservation and reconstruction of destroyed or 
altered religious sites must immediately take place, and all 
restrictions on freedom of religion for the enclaved Cypriots must end.
  Mr. Speaker, I hope the beginning of the next 50 years of Cyprus' 
statehood is marked by the immediate removal of the Turkish occupation 
forces, followed by immediate reunification of the island nation in 
which respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all 
Cypriots is a reality.
  I urge swift passage of this resolution.

                              {time}  1600

  Mr. TANNER. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney).
  Mrs. MALONEY. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his 
leadership on this and so many other important issues.

[[Page H7050]]

  Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1631, a resolution 
calling for the protection of religious sites and artifacts in Turkish-
occupied areas of northern Cyprus. I joined my Hellenic Caucus cochair 
and good friend and colleague, Representative Gus Bilirakis, in 
introducing this important resolution before us today. And I would like 
to particularly thank Chairman Berman for his work in bringing this 
resolution to the floor today for a vote.
  I am honored to represent Astoria, Queens, one of the largest and 
most vibrant communities of Greek and Cypriot Americans in this 
country. This year we marked the 36th anniversary of the Turkish 
invasion and continuing illegal occupation of the northern part of the 
Republic of Cyprus. Since the 1974 invasion, many priceless symbols of 
Cyprus' religious and cultural heritage have been destroyed, looted, or 
vandalized, and even stolen, or illegally shipped for sale abroad. Very 
disturbing is the way the churches have been razed, converted into 
barns, into barracks, into beer halls with total disrespect to their 
religious importance. To date, Turkey has repeatedly ignored all U.N. 
resolutions pertaining to Cyprus and has continued to occupy the island 
in complete violation of international law.
  As Cyprus prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we in Congress 
have a responsibility to make our voices heard on our ultimate goal of 
a reunified and prosperous Cyprus where Greek Cypriots and Turkish 
Cypriots can live together in peace, security, and stability. Passage 
of this resolution would demonstrate the United States' commitment to 
protecting the rights and fundamental freedoms of the Cypriot people, 
religious freedom on the island of Cyprus, and religious freedom for 
people everywhere.
  In the interest of time, I would like to place in the Record this 
report from the Library of Congress pertaining to the destruction of 
cultural property and religious sites in Cyprus.
  I urge all of my colleagues to vote in support of this important 
resolution.

                       [Law Library of Congress]

Cyprus--Destruction of Cultural Property in the Northern Part of Cyprus 
                  and Violations of International Law


                           Executive Summary

       Due to the military invasion by Turkey in July and August 
     1974, the Republic of Cyprus has been de facto divided into 
     two separate areas: the southern area under the Government of 
     Cyprus, which is recognized as the only legitimate 
     government; and the northern area, amounting to approximately 
     36 percent of the territory, under the non-recognized, 
     illegal, and unilaterally declared ``Turkish Republic of 
     Northern Cyprus'' (``TRNC'). As documented, the northern part 
     of Cyprus has experienced a vast destruction and pillage of 
     religious sites and objects during the armed conflict and 
     continuing occupation. In addition, a large number of 
     religious and archaeological objects have been illegally 
     exported and subsequently sold in art markets. The Republic 
     of Cyprus has asserted its ownership over its religious and 
     archaeological sites located in Cyprus through use of its 
     domestic legislation. The Cyprus government and the Church of 
     Cyprus claim that such religious sites constitute part of 
     Cyprus' cultural property and are of paramount importance to 
     the collective history and memory of the people of Cyprus as 
     a nation, as well as to humankind. In a few instances, 
     Cyprus, either through diplomatic channels or through legal 
     action, has been successful in repatriating religious and 
     archaeological objects.
       Protection of religious sites and other cultural property 
     during armed conflict and occupation falls within the ambit 
     of international humanitarian law, otherwise known as the law 
     of war. The basic principle is that cultural property must be 
     safeguarded and protected, subject to military necessity only 
     when such property has been converted to a military 
     objective. Pursuant to the major international agreement on 
     this subject, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of 
     Cultural Property During Armed Conflict and its Protocols, as 
     well as the legal regime on occupation, Turkey, as a state 
     party, is required to refrain from acts of hostility and 
     damage against cultural property located in the northern part 
     of Cyprus; to prohibit and prevent theft, pillage, or 
     misappropriation of cultural property; and to establish 
     criminal jurisdiction to prosecute individuals who engage in 
     acts of destruction, desecration, and pillage. Archaeological 
     excavations in the occupied northern part of Cyprus are 
     prohibited unless they are critical to the preservation of 
     cultural property; in such a case, excavations must be 
     carried out with the cooperation of the national competent 
     authorities of the occupied territory. Such violations of 
     conventional and customary international rules on the 
     protection of cultural property may give rise to legal 
     responsibility on the part of Turkey as the occupying power 
     before an international court or tribunal, provided that 
     other requirements are met A legal precedent for the 
     responsibility of Turkey for actions against cultural 
     property would be the judgments of the European Court of 
     Human Rights. The Court, based on the ``effective control'' 
     test, used in Loizidou v. Turkey, found Turkey responsible 
     for deprivation of private property of Greek-Cypriots 
     expelled from the occupied northern part of Cyprus.
       The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former 
     Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Rome Statute of the International 
     Criminal Court (ICC) consider the destruction of cultural 
     property to be a war crime. The ICTY has held individuals 
     accountable for the destruction or damage done to 
     institutions dedicated to religious, artistic, scientific, or 
     historic monuments. Moreover, the ICTY has reaffirmed that 
     the rules on protection of cultural property during armed 
     conflict have achieved the status of customary international 
     law; thus, they are binding erga omnes, against all states, 
     even if a state is not party to an international humanitarian 
     law instrument.
       Two international Conventions governing protection of 
     cultural property apply to the issue of illicit traffic and 
     exportation of cultural property from the northern part of 
     Cyprus: a) the 1970 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, 
     Scientific, and Cultural Organization) Convention on the 
     Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, 
     Export and Transfer of Ownership; and b) the 1995 UNIDROIT 
     (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) 
     Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. 
     A basic objective of both Conventions is to fight the illicit 
     trade in art and cultural property. Under the 1970 
     Convention, which has been ratified by Cyprus and Turkey, 
     parties are required to take steps to prevent illicit traffic 
     through the adoption of legal and administrative measures and 
     the adoption of an export certificate for any cultural object 
     that is exported. Cyprus has complied with these 
     requirements. In addition, the 1970 Convention regards as 
     ``illicit'' any export or transfer of ownership of cultural 
     property under compulsion that arises from the occupation of 
     a country by a foreign power. The 1995 UNIDROIT Convention 
     establishes uniform rules for restitution claims by 
     individuals regarding stolen cultural objects and return 
     claims by states regarding illicitly exported cultural 
     objects. While Cyprus has ratified the Convention, Turkey has 
     not.
       The Cyprus Government stresses that the optimum way to 
     preserve and protect its cultural property is to find a 
     solution to the Cyprus issue and the end of the military 
     occupation of the northern part of Cyprus. Meanwhile, Cyprus 
     may opt, inter alia, to utilize judicial remedies to resolve 
     outstanding disputes pertaining to its cultural and religious 
     property either before foreign courts, as it has already 
     done, or international and regional courts, provided that 
     other criteria are met.


                            I. Introduction

       Following the military invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the 
     continuing occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by 
     Turkey, it has been documented that extensive destruction, 
     desecration, and pillage of religious sites and other 
     historic monuments, as well some disputed archaeological 
     excavations and illegal exportation of objects, have occurred 
     in the northern part of Cyprus. The Government of Cyprus 
     claims that the impetus behind the acts of destruction and 
     desecration of religious sites is the obliteration of their 
     cultural and religious symbols, which form part of the 
     cultural and spiritual heritage of Cyprus; as such they are 
     extremely significant not only for the Greek-Cypriots, but 
     also for the entire population of Cyprus and for humankind in 
     general. On the other hand, the unilaterally declared and 
     unrecognized (with the exception of Turkey) ``state'' of the 
     ``Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus'' (``TRNC'') argues 
     that its competent authorities are engaged in actions 
     designed to preserve and protect religious sites, regardless 
     of their origin and, moreover, that the excavations are 
     taking place within the ``TRNC's'' own ``sovereign'' area.
       It is against this background that this report analyses the 
     international legal framework governing the protection of 
     cultural property in the northern part of Cyprus. The report 
     also examines the rights and obligations of Turkey and Cyprus 
     arising out of international agreements and especially the 
     legal consequences of the destruction and pillage of Cyprus' 
     religious and cultural property by ``TRNC.''
       The analysis focuses on the international legal norms and 
     standards applicable to:
       (a) The protection of cultural property during armed 
     conflict;
       (b) Occupied territory;
       (c) The protection of cultural property against the illicit 
     trade and export of artifacts; and,
       (d) Religious intolerance.
       In order to draw out the issues, the report provides a 
     historical background, continuing to the time of the de facto 
     partition of the island and the ensuing military occupation. 
     Also included is a brief description of the reported 
     destruction of cultural property that occurred in the 
     northern part of Cyprus and an overview of Cyprus' domestic 
     ownership laws on cultural property. In analyzing the 
     international legal standards applicable to the protection of 
     cultural property, this report examines three key legal 
     issues:
       (a) Whether religious sites in Cyprus (including churches, 
     chapels, monasteries, synagogues, and mosques used by the 
     Greek

[[Page H7051]]

     Cypriot community and other minorities for religious 
     purposes) qualify as ``cultural property'' as defined in the 
     relevant law and thus warrant international protection;
       (b) Whether the northern part of Cyprus meets the legal 
     definition of an occupied territory; and
       (c) Whether the destruction of religious sites in the 
     northern part of Cyprus could give rise to international 
     responsibility on the part of the occupying Turkish military 
     forces in Cyprus; the sub-issue of whether ``TRNC'' bears any 
     degree of responsibility is briefly touched upon as well.
       The report concludes with a short overview of courses of 
     action available to the Republic of Cyprus to pursue its 
     legal claims against the destruction, illicit trade, and 
     transfer of its cultural property.


                       II. Historical Background

       The Republic of Cyprus is a small nation in size and 
     population with a very rich and ancient history and 
     civilization. Archeological findings indicate that Cyprus was 
     inhabited around 7,000 B.C. The island was exposed to 
     Christianity early, with the visit of Apostles Barnabas and 
     Peter. During the Byzantine era, Cyprus was under the 
     administration of Byzantine emperors for approximately 800 
     years (395-1191 A.D).\1\ It was during this time that a great 
     number of churches were built and decorated with mosaics and 
     frescoes of exquisite beauty.\2\ In 1571, Cyprus became part 
     of the Ottoman Empire and in 1878 fell under British rule.
       After a long period as a British colony,\3\ the Republic of 
     Cyprus became an independent nation on August 16, 1960, with 
     the signing of the Treaty of Alliance, Treaty of Guarantee, 
     and the adoption of the Cyprus Constitution.\4\ Under the 
     Treaty of Guarantee,\5\ the three guarantor powers, Greece, 
     Turkey and the United Kingdom, agreed to safeguard and 
     respect the independence and sovereignty of Cyprus. Cyprus' 
     population is composed of two communities; Greek-Cypriots, 
     and Turkish-Cypriots. The two communities are linguistically 
     and religiously distinct from each other. They had long 
     inhabited the island in peaceful symbiosis, with some 
     sporadic periods of political instability and internal 
     strife. Prior to 1974, the Greek-Cypriot community comprised 
     80 percent of the population of Cyprus, the Turkish-Cypriots 
     totaling approximately 18 percent, with the balance being 
     comprised of a small percentage of Armenians, Maronites, and 
     Latin.\6\
       Since the 1974 military invasion of Cyprus by Turkey and 
     the ensuing occupation of the northern 37 percent of the 
     island, the Republic of Cyprus has been de facto divided into 
     two separate areas, with the southern area under the 
     government of Cyprus, which is recognized as the only 
     legitimate government, and the northern area under the non-
     recognized, illegal, and unilaterally declared ``TRNC.'' The 
     United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was 
     established in 1964 after the eruption of intercommunal 
     violence in 1963, and is in control along the so called 
     ``green line'' to guarantee maintenance of peace and security 
     between the two communities.\7\ The military invasion by 
     Turkey was precipitated when the Greek military regime, with 
     the assistance of the Cypriot armed forces, planned and 
     executed a coup d'etat against the government of Archbishop 
     Makarios, the first elected President of the Republic of 
     Cyprus. On July 20, 1974, Turkey, using the coup d'etat as 
     grounds to allegedly protect the Turkish community, 
     intervened militarily in Cyprus in order to ``reestablish the 
     constitutional order.'' \8\ A series of unsuccessful peace 
     negotiations ensued between the two communities under the 
     auspices of the United Nations (UN) until August 14, 1974, 
     when Turkey initiated a second military attack on Cyprus and 
     occupied 36.02 percent of the territory of the Republic of 
     Cyprus.\9\
       As a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, almost 
     200,000 Greek-Cypriots fled their homes in the north and 
     either became refugees or were internally displaced, and 
     eventually settled in the southern part of Cyprus. The 
     Turkish-Cypriots who lived in various parts of the island 
     prior to 1974 moved to the north.\10\
       Currently, the population of Cyprus includes approximately 
     660,000 Greek-Cypriots who live in the south, 89,000 Turkish-
     Cypriots in the north, and a Turkish military force of 
     approximately 43,000. Moreover, Turkey has brought close to 
     160,000 Turkish settlers to the northern part of Cyprus from 
     mainland Turkey in an effort to alter the demographics of 
     Cyprus. The European Court of Human Rights of the Council of 
     Europe, to which Turkey and Cyprus are members, in numerous 
     instances has found Turkey to have violated various human 
     rights in the northern part of Cyprus, in particular the 
     rights of individuals to their property, and the right to 
     life, liberty, and security.
       The ``TRNC'' was unilaterally proclaimed in 1983 and 
     adopted a Constitution. The United Nations Security Council, 
     in Resolutions 541 and 550, adopted in 1983 and 1984, 
     respectively, declared the secession invalid, null, and void. 
     The Security Council also urged the Cyprus: Destruction of 
     Cultural Property--April 2009 The Law Library of Congress 
     international community not to recognize the ``TRNC.'' \11\ 
     Thus far, no country (with the exception of Turkey) has 
     recognized the ``TRNC'' as a separate state under 
     international law. The United Nations, the European Union 
     (EU),\12\ the Council of Europe,\13\ and others \14\ have 
     repeatedly reaffirmed the status of the Republic of Cyprus as 
     the only legitimate government. A number of national and 
     international courts, in adjudicating legal issues that have 
     incidentally raised the question of the status of the 
     ``TRNC,'' have not recognized its legitimacy.\15\
       On May 1, 2004, the Republic of Cyprus, as a single state, 
     joined the EU.\16\ For the time being, the entire body 
     (acquis communautaire) of EU law applies only to the southern 
     part of the * * *


                               END NOTES

       \1\ Kypros Chrysostomides, The Republic of Cyprus: A Study 
     in International Law (2000); see also Republic of Cyprus, 
     Press and Information Office, The Almanac of Cyprus 16 
     (1996); Republic of Cyprus, Press and Information Office, 
     Window on Cyprus (2005).
       \2\ Chrysostomides, supra note 1.
       \3\ In 1914, Cyprus was annexed by Great Britain. Between 
     the period of 1925 to 1960 Cyprus had the status of a Crown 
     colony. For an analysis of the history of Cyprus, see 
     Chrysostomides, supra note 1. See also, Criton G. Tornaritis, 
     Cyprus and Its Constitution and Other Legal Problems (1980).
       \4\ M. Alamides, The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus 
     3 (2004).
       \5\ Treaty of Guarantee, Aug. 16, 1960, 382 U.N.T.S. 3.
       \6\ Chrysostomides, supra note 1. Appendix E of the 1960 
     Cyprus Constitution recognizes three religious groups in 
     Cyprus consisting of Armenians, Maronites, and Latins. Latins 
     originated from the Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic 
     Church and were established in Cyprus during the Ottoman 
     period. Members of these groups are guaranteed human rights 
     and freedoms comparable to those afforded by the European 
     Convention of Human Rights and are also constitutionally 
     protected against discrimination.
       \7\ The role of the UNFICYP was expanded in response to the 
     Turkish military invasions. For information on the UNFICYP, 
     see http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unficyp/. For an 
     analysis of the efforts of the United Nations to find a 
     workable solution to the Cyprus problem, see Claire Palley, 
     An International Relations Debacle, The UN Secretary-
     General's Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus 1999-2004 (2005).
       \8\ Chrysostomides, supra note 1.
       \9\ Chrysostomides, Cyprus--The Way Forward 63 (2006).
       \10\ See Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of 
     Cyprus, The Third Vienna Agreement--August 1975 (Aug. 2, 
     1975) (communique issued after the third round of talks on 
     Cyprus held in Vienna from July 31-Aug. 2, 1975), available 
     at http://www.mfa.gov.cy/mfa/mfa2006.nsf/All/
     0658E5B2F4D1A538C22571D30034D15D/$FILE/
     August%201975.pdf?OpenElement.
       \11\ S.C. Res. 541, U.N. Doc. S/RES/541 (Nov. 18, 1983) and 
     S.C. Res. 550, U.N. Doc. S/RES/541 (May 11, 1984), available 
     at http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_resolutions.html, reprinted 
     in Resolutions Adopted by the United Nations on the Cyprus 
     Problem (Press and Information Office, Ministry of Interior, 
     Republic of Cyprus, 1964-1990).
       \12\ On November 16, 1983, the European Community adopted a 
     statement rejecting the declaration and expressing its deep 
     concerns regarding the establishment of ``TRNC'' as an 
     independent state. The statement also reaffirmed its support 
     of the sovereignty, independence, and unity of Cyprus. The 
     European Parliament has held hearings on the issue of 
     destruction of cultural property and, inter alia, in 2006 it 
     adopted a Declaration on the Protection and Preservation of 
     the Religious Heritage in the northern part of Cyprus, Eur. 
     Parl. Doc. P6_TA(2006)0335 (Aug. 30, 2006), available at 
     http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/seance_pleniere/
     textes_adoptes/
     definitif/2006/09-05/0335/P6_TA(2006)0335_EN.pdf. The 
     Parliament's Committee of Education and Culture also endorsed 
     funds from the 2007 budget for a study on the situation of 
     religious sites in northern Cyprus. Alexia Saoulli, European 
     Parliament Backs Funds for Study on Churches in the North, 
     Museum Security Network Mailing List (Sept. 14, 2006), 
     available at, http://msn-list.te.verweg.com/2006-Sep
     tember/005975.html.
       \13\ In 1983, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of 
     Europe issued a Resolution which, inter alia: a) deplored the 
     declaration by the Turkish Cypriot leaders of the ``purported 
     independence of the so-called ``Turkish Republic of Northern 
     Cyprus''; b) declared the unilateral declaration invalid; 
     and, c) reaffirmed its commitment to the Republic of Cyprus 
     as the only legitimate government. Comm. of Ministers 
     Resolution (83) 13, Nov. 24, 1983, on Cyprus, available at 
     http://www.mfa.gov.cy/mfa/mfa2006.nsf/All/
     C1E21396890CA83CC22571D2001E8A47/$file/
     Res%2083.pdf?OpenElement.
       \14\ The Commonwealth Heads of Government, in a meeting 
     convened in New Delhi, India, November 23-29, 1983, condemned 
     the declaration of the ``TRNC'' ``to create a secessionist 
     state in northern Cyprus, in the area under foreign 
     occupation.'' A press communique was issued stating, inter 
     alia, as follows: ``[The] Heads of Government condemned the 
     declaration by the Turkish Cypriot authorities issued on 15 
     November 1983 to create a secessionist state in northern 
     Cyprus, in the area under foreign occupation. Fully endorsing 
     Security Council Resolution 541, they denounced the 
     declaration as legally invalid and reiterated the call for 
     its non-recognition and immediate withdrawal. They further 
     called upon all States not to facilitate or in any way assist 
     the illegal secessionist entity. They regarded this illegal 
     act as a challenge to the international community and 
     demanded the implementation of

[[Page H7052]]

     the relevant UN Resolutions on Cyprus.'' Quoted in Loizidou 
     v. Turkey (Merits), Eur. Ct. Hum. H.R., VI Dec. & Rep. 
     (1996), available at http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/ 
     viewhbkm.asp?sessionId=9256208=
     hudoc-en=html=F69A27FD8FB 
     86142BF01C1166DEA398649= 588=.
       \15\ For a review of several cases involving courts in the 
     United States and the United Kingdom, the European Court of 
     Justice, and the European Court of Human Rights, see 
     Chrysostomides, supra note 1, at 280-315.
       \16\ See Press Release, Cyprus Government, Press and 
     Information Office, EU Accession Treaty--Protocols on Cyprus, 
     available at http://www.cyprus.gov.cy/moi/PIO/PIO.nsf/
     All/DA5EA02B13392A77C2256DC2002B662A?
     OpenDocument (last visited Mar. 9, 2009).

  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  I rise in strong support of H. Res. 1631, calling for the protection 
of religious sites and artifacts from and in Turkish-occupied areas of 
northern Cyprus and calling on the Turkish Government to respect the 
religious freedom of all the people living in the territory it 
occupies. I thank my very good friend Mr. Bilirakis for introducing 
this outstanding resolution and for his faithfulness and effectiveness 
in exposing human rights violations in Cyprus.
  Madam Speaker, this resolution reminds us of the ongoing barbarism of 
the Turkish Government's military occupation of the northern part of 
the Republic of Cyprus, a sovereign State. The Turkish Government 
frequently prevents Greek Cypriots from holding divine liturgy, and it 
has pillaged their sacred churches and holy sites. The Turkish 
Government currently uses no less than 28 Orthodox churches as army 
barracks, has converted 80 churches into mosques, and permits others to 
be used as nightclubs, sheep stalls, and dancing schools. Under Turkish 
occupation, 500 churches, monasteries, cemeteries, and other religious 
sites have been desecrated, destroyed, or looted.
  Madam Speaker, this resolution performs a great service in 
documenting in painstaking detail the trade in sacred objects looted 
from these churches, which is extensive, international, and totally 
illicit. It also points out the legal obligation of the Turkish 
Government to prevent this trade, to restore looted objects as well as 
churches, and to respect the human rights of those who live under its 
occupation.
  Madam Speaker, I am profoundly disappointed that over the years, 
including since the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act, 
that our government has far too often failed to speak out and to speak 
out vigorously in defense of the religious freedom of Orthodox 
Christians. This is really shameful. The Turkish Government's 
persecution of Orthodoxy, whether in Cyprus or Istanbul, the home of 
the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in Syriac Orthodox monasteries, or of the 
Armenian Orthodoxy, seems to aim at extinguishing Christian Orthodoxy 
within its borders.
  As the Secretary General's report on the United Nations operations in 
Cyprus stated as far back as 1996, the restrictions on basic freedoms 
of Christians in Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus have the effect ``of 
ensuring that with the passage of time, the communities (that is, Greek 
Cypriots and Maronites) would cease to exist.'' So I am glad that this 
resolution specifically urges the President, the Secretary of State, 
and the State Department Office of International Religious Freedom to 
report and take vigorous action on the traffic of Cypriot Orthodox 
heritage. The executive branch should take this seriously. Hopefully 
with the backing of the Congress, they will.
  Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my 
serious concerns with H. Res 1631. I think many of my colleagues know 
that I have been a vocal supporter of religious freedom and human 
rights around the world for many years. But, I believe the resolution 
before us is less about promoting religious freedom and religious 
tolerance than it is about poking a stick in the eye of Turkish 
Cypriots; who are currently working together with their Greek Cypriots 
neighbors to strike a comprehensive peace deal for that troubled 
island.
  Time and time again, I have come to the floor to ask my colleagues to 
review the facts and stop oversimplifying this issue. Revisionist 
history attempts to lay all the blame for the ills of Cyprus at the 
doorstep of Turkish Cypriots and Turkey. H. Res. 1631 seems to repeat 
this pattern. I urge my colleagues to step back and ask themselves 
whether this resolution will truly advance the reconciliation process 
or merely add fuel to the fire. If we do that, the answer is obvious, 
H. Res. 1631 is an unnecessary and inappropriate assertion of opinion 
that does nothing to bring peace to a divided land.
  In fact, those on both sides of the issue are already working 
together to come to a resolution. On March 21, 2008 the Greek Cypriot 
leader Mr. Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Talat forged 
an agreement that paved the way for the establishment of the Technical 
Committee on Cultural Heritage. This committee has already set in order 
plans to protect, preserve and restore the rich cultural heritage of 
Cyprus and by all accounts have made great strides to date towards 
achieving these goals. According to a recent press statement, the 
Cultural Committee has expressed a commitment to ``compile the entire 
list of immovable cultural heritage of Cyprus [and] to create an 
educational interactive program that would give the opportunity to 
younger generation of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to learn 
about each other and the cultural heritage of the island.''
  The effort is an open and honest dialogue between Greek and Turkish 
Cypriots regarding the preservation of their shared history. I believe, 
if left alone, this cooperation could well serve to open dialogue in 
other areas.
  Rather than restating the tired talking points of yesterday which 
only serve to place blame for past offenses, as appears to be the case 
with H. Res. 1631, I would urge my colleagues to applaud and support 
these efforts.
  Too often, the international community and many well-meaning members 
of this body fail to recognize the two sides of this issue. For 
example, the Turkish Cypriots have expressed concern over destruction 
and neglect of Turkish-Muslim monuments of importance in the South of 
Cyprus while at the same time committing to protect the heritage of the 
Greek Cypriots. In a letter to Mr. Hastings, the Turkish Cypriots 
expressed that ``The Turkish side believes that the cultural heritage 
of a people is its most important asset, its identity and a sense of 
community through time. With this understanding, we regard all the 
cultural heritage in North Cyprus, regardless of its origin, as part of 
the common heritage of both the Turkish Cypriot people and of 
humanity.''
  Thankfully, and as I've already stated, the Committee on Cultural 
Heritage has agreed to work to establish a mechanism that does just 
this. But why if H. Res. 1631, is the fair and balanced resolution its 
supporters claim it to be, is it silent in terms of commending all 
efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of both sides.
  Madam Speaker, if we can redirect our misspent energies towards the 
real work of reshaping Cyprus into a Cyprus that respects human rights 
and the fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots; by bolstering the 
efforts of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots to work together 
in good faith for the future of all Cypriots; then the future will be 
bright for Cyprus.
  However, if we as the United States Congress continue only to echo 
the shrill cries of the ``blame Turkey'' groups here in the United 
States, we will only help further delay the day that peace comes to 
Cyprus. I urge my colleagues to reject H. Res. 1632.
  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. TANNER. Madam Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Edwards of Maryland). The question is on 
the motion offered by the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Tanner) that 
the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 1631.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the resolution was agreed to.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________