(House of Representatives - July 20, 2011)

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[Page H5248]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Maryland (Mr. Sarbanes) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. SARBANES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today, as I do each year on the 
anniversary of Turkey's unlawful invasion of Cyprus, to again call upon 
Turkish authorities to end the 37-year military occupation of this 
island nation. The tragic history of the occupation is well-documented. 
Sadly, with each passing year, still more indignities are visited upon 
the Cypriot people.
  On Christmas morning, 2010, a large number of Orthodox Christians 
made their way to the Saint Sinesios Church. During the prayer service, 
the Turkish occupation authorities barged into the church, drove out 
the worshipers, and sealed the doors of the building. This was an 
assault on religious freedom. A few months ago, on May 2, Turkish 
occupation authorities demolished the 200-year old Chapel of Saint 
Thekla located in the village of Vokolida. This, too, was an assault on 
religious freedom. These are among countless examples of the systematic 
repression and destruction of the Orthodox Christian faith that is 
carried on by Turkish authorities on the island.
  The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the 
body that is tasked by this Congress on the state of religious freedom 
throughout the world in terms of advising us on that situation, reports 
that gross violations of religious freedom occur in the areas under the 
control of the Turkish occupation authorities. Turkey's foreign 
minister, the Honorable Ahmet Davutoglu, has proclaimed that Turkey's 
foreign policy is rooted in the doctrine of ``zero problems with its 
neighbors.'' Unfortunately, the fruits of this doctrine appear to be 
wholly absent in Turkish relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
  Under the auspices of the United Nations, Turkey agreed as a 
confidence building measure in 1979 to withdraw and hand over the 
uninhabited city of Famagusta to its rightful inhabitants. Despite the 
annual calls of the United Nations for Turkey and the Turkish 
occupation authorities to honor this agreement, Famagusta remains a 
ghost town. The international community continually demands the 
withdrawal of the overwhelming Turkish military presence on Cyprus. 
However, the Turkish occupation authorities have not even considered a 
reduction of military troops.
  As a candidate country seeking accession to the European Union, 
Turkey has been advised to open its air and sea ports to the Republic 
of Cyprus as a condition for the further negotiation of the accession 
chapters. Turkey nonetheless refuses to open its ports to Cypriot-
flagged vessels. Cyprus will hold the presidency of the European Union 
in the second half of 2012. Rather than seize the opportunity to put 
its ``zero problems'' doctrine into effect, Foreign Minister Davutoglu 
just the other day threatened the European Union that Turkey will 
freeze relations with that body when the Republic of Cyprus holds its 
  Mr. Speaker, this is not the conduct of a country serious about 
joining the family of democratic nations. The United States, the 
European Union, and the United Nations all call for a just and lasting 
settlement that reunifies Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation. 
After 37 years of broken promises, it is high time that this Chamber 
demand that Turkey conduct itself in accordance with the standards and 
values expected of a democracy, a member of NATO, and a candidate 
country of the European Union.