Cyprus Still Occupied, Still Divided

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By Mariam Khaloyan (@mariamkhaloyan)

AAA News Blog

July 29,
2015

The
consequences of Turkey’s armed incursion of Cyprus in 1974 compound, to this
day, a sore point in the modern history of the island: military invasion,
division, demolition of human rights, extensive foreign settlements, social
decay, and property seizure, and ethnic exclusion. This has been the status quo
of the island for 41 years.

Last week,
the Armenian Assembly of America Terjenian-Thomas summer interns had an
opportunity to meet with Nick Larigakis, President of American Hellenic
Institute
and attend the commemoration of the 41st anniversary of the illegal
Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus
.

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The
commemoration included powerful remarks from Members of Congress, such as Representatives
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Dina Titus
(D-NV), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Niki Tsongas
(D-MA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Brad Sherman (D-CA). In addition to Members of
Congress, Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Christos Panagopoulos, Ambassador of
Cyprus to the U.S. George Chacalli, and AHI President Nick Laragakis also
addressed the audience on the solemn occasion.

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Topics
ranged from American-Greek foreign affairs to the long-standing occupation of
Cyprus. Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Representative Maloney spoke about Cyprus’
reunification, and the hardship presented to Cyprus due to Turkey’s forty
thousand occupying troops. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) addressed the
youth in the room by encouraging engagement and the need of new compassionate
members who partake in the Greek American affairs. Brad Sherman (D-CA) pointed out,
“It’s important to remain effective during this difficult time and with a
difficult government in Ankara.” Representative Sarbanes spoke on behalf of
future prospects for peace with the commemoration of the invasion of Turkey in
Cyprus over 40 years ago, “As negotiations continue in Cyprus, there will be
critical moments when I hope the U.S. administration will step in,” said
Sarbanes. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen stated, “The illegal occupation of
Turkey in Cyprus has left thousands denied their right to return to their homes
in Cyprus.”

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The U.S.
Congress has long sustained engagement in a resolution of the Cyprus conflict.
Lack of a negotiated agreement extends to relations between Turkey and the European
Union (EU), Turkey and Greece, and EU and NATO. The situation also warrants
attention because of the U.S. interest in a strong relationship with Turkey and
the prospect that the Eastern Mediterranean could play an important role in
energy development.

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The American
Hellenic Institute, Inc. (AHI) was founded on August 1, 1974, following
Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus with the illegal use of American-supplied arms in
violation of U.S. laws and agreements. AHI initiated the rule of law issue in
the Congress in the interests of the U.S., thus changing the face of American
politics. In the years since 1974, AHI has kept the spirit of the rule of law
alive. AHI and its affiliate organizations have championed the rule of law and
American values in foreign policy as in the best interests of the U.S. This is
especially true in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, a region
critically important to American national interests.

The Armenian
Assembly, for its part, will always stand with our Greek and Cypriot
compatriots in our common struggle for freedom and justice.

Additional photographs are available here

Mariam Khaloyan is an intern with
the Armenian National Institute as a participant in the Armenian Assembly of
America’s Terjenian-Thomas Summer Internship Program in Washington, DC. Mariam
is a senior studying Psychology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

About Armenian Assembly of America

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
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