Cyprus -- (House of Representatives - April 22, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, 2 days from now the people of Cyprus will take a historical vote on the future of their country, voting on a referendum finalized several weeks ago by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Secretary General Annan has dedicated a great deal of time over the past couple of years to finally resolving the 30-year Cyprus problem. He has been extremely patient in dealing with the intransigence of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, intransigence that continues to this day.
Having met with the Secretary General last month, I have no doubt that he understands the concerns of both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots; but unfortunately, his final plan unfairly benefits the Turkish side and does not achieve the goal of truly reunifying the island nation.
Mr. Speaker, I have serious reservations about the final Annan plan because it forces the Cypriot people to put too much faith in the Turkish Government. When Cypriots go to the voting booth on the 24th, they are forced to take the Turkish Government at its word that the Turkish parliament will ratify the treaty. The Cypriots are forced to take the Turkish Government at its word that occupied land will be returned to its rightful owners 3 to 5 years down the line, and the Cypriots are forced to believe that Turkey will remove its troops according to the timetable in the Annan plan and are forced to deal with the fact that Turkish troops will remain in Cyprus forever with Turkey having the unilateral right to intervene at any time.
I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, the final Annan plan gives Turkey too much opportunity to either delay or not implement critical property and security issues in the years to come.
When I met with the Secretary General, I strongly recommended that the U.N. maintain a presence on the island as long as the Turkish Army remains. The Secretary General assured me that U.N. forces would remain on Cyprus for a considerable amount of time, but his final plan allows Turkish troops to stay indefinitely without an international presence; and I find this simply unacceptable. I am extremely worried about the actions Turkish troops might take with the absence of a neutral international presence to keep them in line. I am also concerned that Turkey will not abide by the final agreement and its troops will contribute to further instability and insecurity.
Over the next couple of weeks, the people of Cyprus will carefully analyze this plan and determine if it provides the best framework for the island nation to enter the European Union united. This is their decision alone, and outside forces should not attempt to scare or threaten them into voting a certain way. Whatever the outcome, it is important the international community and the United States honor that decision and work to ensure Cyprus's future remains bright.