Recognizing the 37th Anniversary of Turkey's Illegal Invasion of Cyprus

Floor Speech

By:  Elton Gallegly
Date: July 21, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the 37th anniversary of the illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Cyprus by Turkish forces. During the war, approximately 5,000 Cypriots were killed and close to 200,000 Greek Cypriots were forcibly removed from their homes. This anniversary also marks another year in which Cyprus is divided between north and south and between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.

However, despite 37 years of division in Cyprus, I remain hopeful about reaching a just and lasting settlement. Following his election in February 2008, President Demetris Christofias followed through on his commitment to make the solution of the Cyprus problem his top priority. In September of that year, he embarked on full-fledged negotiations with Mehmet Talat, who was at the time the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. These negotiations are continuing under the new Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

The ongoing talks aim at reaching a comprehensive settlement for the Cyprus problem with the goal of achieving the unification of Cyprus based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and political equality, as set out in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The agreement should also lead to a single sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality for Cyprus.

There are still many difficult issues that need to be resolved before a comprehensive agreement to the Cyprus problem can be achieved. Turkey, which continues to deploy 43,000 troops in Cyprus, is critical to reaching such an agreement. I urge Turkey to work constructively with the Cypriots in support of a negotiated settlement and the peaceful reunification of the island.

For many years, Cyprus has proven to be a loyal friend and ally of the United States. Throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cyprus has provided overflight and landing rights to U.S. aircraft and port access for our ships. In addition, during the Lebanon crisis of 2006, Cyprus served as the principal transit location for people evacuating Lebanon, including 15,000 U.S. citizens. The U.S. and Cyprus also share a deep commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights. Given the long-standing friendship between the U.S. and Cyprus, I call upon the United States Government to become actively engaged in moving forward the negotiations regarding the future of Cyprus.