(Senate - July 20, 2011)

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[Pages S4716-S4717]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise in my capacity as cochairman of the 
Helsinki Commission to again draw attention to the tragic consequences 
of Turkey's invasion and ongoing occupation of the Republic of Cyprus 
begun 37 years ago today. I applaud the leadership demonstrated by 
President Christofias in an attempt to bring about a comprehensive 
settlement and reunification of his country based on a bizonal, 
bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined in the 
relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, with a single sovereignty, 
single citizenship and single international personality. Attempts to 
resolve the Cyprus issue are exacerbated by Turkish intransigence; the 
continued deployment of tens of thousands of Turkish troops in occupied 
northern Cyprus; and the introduction of an estimated 160,000 settlers 
from mainland Turkey. Indeed, the reality is that settlers outnumber 
indigenous Turkish Cypriots altering the demographic composition of 
that community by a margin of about two to one.
  Previously, I have addressed a number of specific human rights 
concerns stemming from the ongoing occupation, including freedom of 
movement, property rights, and freedom of religion. Under my 
chairmanship, the Helsinki Commission convened a public briefing, 
``Cyprus' Religious Cultural Heritage in Peril'' to document the 
desecration and destruction of sacred sites in occupied Northern 
  Today, I want to focus on the situation in the city of Famagusta, the 
once thriving commercial center and tourist destination on the east 
coast of Cyprus, featuring the country's deepest water port. This 
cosmopolitan city, home to nearly 50,000 Cypriots, was a center for 
trade and finance as well as culture, known for its many museums and 
vibrant nightlife. The second wave of the Turkish invasion, launched in 
August 1974, targeted Famagusta and the surrounding region. Seaside 
hotels that attracted tourists from throughout the world and other 
important high rise buildings were targeted for bombardment as 
residents were forced to flee. Today, barbwire rings the city of 
Famagusta, a veritable ghost town except for Turkish troops patrolling 
the perimeter of this once bustling urban center. What looters left 
behind is slowly being reclaimed by nature and decades of exposure to 
the elements.
  The only thing I can compare this scene to comes from my walk along 
the deserted streets in the city of Prypiat, a Ukrainian city of 
similar size to Famagusta, located in the Chornbyl exclusion zone a 
short distance from the site of the world's worst nuclear accident. 
While health concerns keep the residents of the former away, armed 
Turkish troops prevent lawful residents of Famagusta from returning.
  Notwithstanding numerous U.N. resolutions on Cyprus, including 
provisions specifically addressing the city of Famagusta, Turkey 
continues to illegally occupy a third of Cypriot territory, preventing 
Greek Cypriots from returning to their homes and businesses in the 
occupied area, including Famagusta. In keeping with these UN 
resolutions and principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, it is 
time for Turkey to end its illegal occupation of the sovereign Republic 
of Cyprus. Agreement allowing the lawful residents to return and 
rebuild the city of Famagusta would be an important step in the right 
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, on July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus. 
Thirty-seven years later, Turkish troops continue to occupy 37 percent 
of the island. The invasion and occupation resulted in the deaths of 
more than 5,000 Cypriots and made some 200,000 Cypriots refugees in 
their own land.
  Since 1974, more than 75 resolutions have been adopted by the U.N. 
Security Council and more than 13 by the U.N. General Assembly, calling 
for the return of the refugees to their homes and properties and for 
the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus. In addition to these 
Resolutions, the European Court of Human Rights has in various 
judgments held Turkey responsible for the violation of the basic human 
rights and fundamental freedoms of Greek Cypriots, such as the right to 
life, the right to liberty and security, the right to respect for 
family life, the right to the protection of property and the 
prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment.
  Building on past meetings in November 2010 and January 2011, 
President Christofias again this month met with Turkish Cypriot leader 
Mr. Eroglu in the presence of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 
Geneva, where they agreed to intensify discussions on the difficult 
``core issues'' of the negotiations, including the sharing of power and 
authority between the two communities of Cyprus, territorial 
adjustments, property issues, and the issue of the withdrawal of 
foreign troops, security and guarantees. The Cypriot government is 
working in good faith to achieve a viable agreement and I remain 
supportive of the Cypriot government's insistence that this process 
remain a Cypriot-led process, with any solution agreed upon by the 
Cypriots and for the Cypriots, without any external arbitration or 
timeframes, while recognizing that a solution cannot be reached without 
the full and constructive cooperation of Turkey.
  As Cypriot-Americans join with Cypriots from throughout the world in 
this effort to unify their homeland, and as they seek to secure an 
economically prosperous state free of illegal occupation, I will stand 
by them. I will work to ensure that the Turkish occupation comes to an 
  This week, we remember those who perished in the invasion of Cyprus, 
and honor those who survived and who continue to live under Turkish 
occupation. We have not forgotten and our thoughts and prayers are with 
them and their families.
  Remembering together the events of July 20, 1974, in solidarity gives 
reverence to historical events we cannot afford to forget as we move 
forward to a peaceful, just solution and a hopeful tomorrow.
  Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, I rise in remembrance of the disastrous 
invasion of Turkish armed forces into the

[[Page S4717]]

Republic of Cyprus. On this day, 37 years ago, Turkish soldiers began 
the forcible expulsion of approximately 200,000 Greek Cypriots from the 
island's northern territory. It is in support of the liberty and human 
dignity of those evicted that I stand to address my colleagues today.
  At this moment, there are more than 43,000 Turkish troops on Cyprus--
that is roughly one Turkish solider for every two Turkish Cypriots. And 
regrettably, their presence continues to perpetuate the usurpation, 
occupation, and destruction of Greek Cypriot-owned property. So too 
continues the egregious desecration of Greek Orthodox churches and 
religious artifacts that are not only sacred to millions of faithful 
believers, but also beautiful and irreplaceable historic sites and 
objects of inherent cultural value to all of humanity.
  Since 1974, more than 75 resolutions have been adopted by the United 
Nations Security Council calling for the withdrawal of Turkish troops 
from Cyprus and the return of refugees to their homes and properties. 
Yet despite 37 frustrating years of diplomatic stops and starts, a 
procession of U.N. special representatives and envoys, and untold hours 
of negotiations, Turkey continues to occupy this region in complete 
violation of international law.
  It is imperative that Turkey withdraw its forces and at long last 
concede that the Cyprus question is one that can only be resolved 
through mutual agreement on a solution, not the imposition of one. In 
this way, Turkey must contribute practically and substantially to the 
negotiating effort and embrace in concrete terms a reunified and 
prosperous Cyprus where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live 
together in peace.
  As a fellow democracy, the Republic of Cyprus shares basic values 
with the United States and has remained a close friend and ally for 
many years. Indeed, the U.S.-Cyprus friendship remains an anchor of 
American foreign policy in this region.
  We must, in our solemn role as a nation that champions human rights 
and adherence to the rule of law, stand with Cypriots to bring peace, 
stability, and prosperity to their island. I therefore urge my 
colleagues to join me in supporting the Cyprus settlement process with 
the goal of finding a fair and lasting agreement for the benefit of all