Mr. SIRES. Mr. Speaker, July 20 represented the 40th anniversary of Turkey's invasion and subsequent illegal occupation of Cyprus. As the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East is becoming more unstable, it is time to resolve the decades-long forcible division of Cyprus.
As a result of Turkey's occupation of northern Cyprus, thousands of Greek Cypriots are still being denied their fundamental right to return to their homes; Greek Cypriot properties are constantly being illegally confiscated or sold without their owners' consent; Turkish troops continue to be stationed on the island; thousands of colonists from mainland Turkey have been transplanted to the occupied area; freedom of worship continues to be severely restricted, access to religious sites blocked, religious sites destroyed and a large number of religious and archaeological objects stolen.
I have been to the island and seen Turkey's destruction and aggression on the northern part of Cyprus first-hand. It was particularly heartbreaking to see the devastation done to the centuries-old churches, and the ghost-town that the once thriving resort town of Famagusta has become.
Unfortunately, over the past 40 years Turkey has continued to obstruct the negotiating process of reunifying Cyprus. Specifically, Turkey has prohibited the exhumation of remains from mass graves, even under supervision from the United Nations (UN), and rejected proposals to carry out a simple technical survey to determine what needs to be done to rebuild Famagusta in the future.
A solid foundation was laid for result-oriented talks on February 11, 2014, with the release of a joint statement from the two community leaders regarding the intention of cooperation between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. The Cyprus Government remains fully committed to the UN sponsored process to reach a sustainable and enduring settlement that would reunify Cyprus based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolution.
Now, particularly in the wake of the discovery of offshore gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, it is more important than ever that Congress stand with our Cypriot allies in finding a fair and functional solution of the Cyprus problem--not only for the best interest of the people of Cyprus but also for the United States' interest of stability in the region.