July 24, 2007 - "Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Madam Speaker, over the last week or so I have listened to a number of my colleagues come to the floor of this Chamber to lament the 1974 "invasion'' of Cyprus . For many years the United States, the European Union and other members of the international community have worked together for a just and lasting solution to the vexing problem of Cyprus . That is why I am deeply concerned when I hear some of my colleagues throwing barbs at the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey in an attempt to lay all the blame for this complicated issue at their doorstep. Because by distorting the facts, we are potentially undermining our good-faith, efforts to see this conflict resolved and to see peace and prosperity come to all the people of Cyprus.
The fact is that when the Island of Cyprus gained its independence from Great Britain in 1960, the Republic's constitution specifically defined a power-sharing arrangement which required a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice-president, each elected by their constituency.
The fact is that in 1963 Greek Cypriot President Makarios proposed sweeping constitutional modifications which heavily favored the Greek Cypriot community. The changes removed most of the checks and balances which had been built into the constitution to ensure the safety and equal status of the Turkish Cypriots. The inevitable result was a serious deterioration of relations between the two parties, which came to a head in December 1963, when armed Greek Cypriots attacked and killed many Turkish Cypriots who were unable to escape. The armed conflict spread quickly, with the Turkish Cypriots eventually being forced to withdraw into enclaves to defend themselves.
For the next 10 years, the campaign of the Greek Cypriots cost the Turkish Cypriots many lives and untold suffering, as well as their equal partnership status in the Cyprus government.
Former United States Undersecretary of State, George Ball, who, among others, was actively dealing with the crisis at the time, remarked in his memoirs entitled The Past Has Another Pattern, that Makarios has turned ``this beautiful little island into his private abattoir'' (p. 341). Ball went on to say that "Makarios' central interest was to block off Turkish intervention so that he and his Greek Cypriots could go on happily massacring the Turkish Cypriots'' (p. 345).
The fact is that during the presidential elections of 1974, Archbishop of Cyprus Makarios--the Greek Cypriot leader at the time--escalated the crisis by embracing Enosis, or Union with Greece, as his election platform. Although Makarios won reelection he also created a power struggle between the military junta in control of mainland Greece and himself for the control over the Island. That power struggle culminated in a coup which forced Makarios to flee Cyprus and renewed ethnic cleansing of Turkish Cypriots.
In his address to the UN Security Council on July 19, 1974, Makarios himself described the coup as "a clear attack from the outside and a flagrant violation of the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus'' .
The fact is that in the face of a bloody coup that not only threatened the independence of Cyprus but also resulted in renewed massacres of Turkish Cypriots, Turkey, which was treaty-bound to act as a Guarantor State, was compelled to undertake action on July 20, 1974. And the fact is that as a result of this legitimate and timely action, Turkish Cypriots were saved from imminent destruction, bloodshed among the Greek Cypriots was ended and the independence of Cyprus was protected.
The fact is that the Turkish intervention was legitimate and was internationally confirmed by, among others, the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe (CACE). CACE resolution 573, dated July 29, 1974, clearly states, "Turkey exercised its right of intervention in accordance with Article IV of the Guarantee Treaty of 1960.''
Unfortunately, since 1974, and in defiance of the rule of law and the established principle that federations can only be built on a foundation of equal partnership, the Greek Cypriot side continues to claim exclusive sovereignty over the entire Island. In 1983, this prompted the Turkish Cypriot side to assert its rights by proclaiming the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
After many unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation, U.N.-led direct talks between the two sides began in early 2002. The talks sketched out a settlement--the Annan Plan--which was voted on in simultaneous referenda held on each side on April 24, 2004.
The fact is that Turkish Cypriots approved the Annan Plan by a clear and overwhelming majority of 65 percent but Greek Cypriots--under heavy pressure from the Greek Cypriot government--rejected it by an even larger majority of 76 percent. The Turkish Cypriots were internationally and rightly praised for their "courageous vote in favor of the proposals''.
The Greek Cypriot side has since been trying to justify its rejection by claiming, among other things, that the plan "did not meet the interests of the country'' and that "it did not provide for guarantees to ensure the complete implementation of commitments under the plan''. However, impartial European Union diplomats, closely associated with the reconciliation effort, have gone so far as to say very undiplomatically, that the Greek Cypriot people had been "lied to'' by the Greek Cypriot government as to the details of the Annan plan.
As public servants I think the members of this House understand that no compromise worth its salt ever fully meets all of the demands of either side, nor could it do so or it wouldn't be much of a compromise. The fact is that the Annan Plan was a carefully balanced compromise that certainly from the Turkish Cypriot perspective represented immense sacrifices on the part of the Turkish Cypriots, on such key issues as land, resettlement, property and security.
The Greek government and several former Greek government leaders fully supported the plan and the Turkish government was also pivotal in encouraging the Turkish Cypriots to approve the plan. In the end, the only people who were not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to bring peace to this troubled island where the Greek Cypriots--yet they were inexplicably rewarded membership to the EU; although some EU leaders have subsequently stated that doing so was a mistake.
The fact is that despite the Greek Cypriots' failure to embrace peace and the international community's failure to end the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots; Turkish Cypriots continue to seek a just and peaceful settlement to this crisis.
Most recently, Turkey and Turkish Cypriots have supported implementation of the July 8, 2006, United Nations-brokered agreement between Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat relating to the reunification of Cyprus through a process of bi-communal discussions.
Some of my colleagues, particularly those who support House Resolution 405 (H. Res. 405), would have this House believe that Turkish Cypriots are unwilling to proceed with the July 8 agreement. But I would ask my colleagues this simple question; when offered the chance to vote for peace which side rejected peace, Turkish or Greek? The answer is Greek.
Under the circumstances it should make one wonder if Greek Cypriots, having already forestalled UN efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue--and been rewarded for it through EU membership--whether they truly feel under pressure to seek a just solution. The fact is that the status quo benefits Greek Cypriots significantly more than Turkish Cypriots and it seems to me that if either side has an incentive to delay implementation of the July 8 agreement; it would be the Greek Cypriots.
Madam Speaker, facts are stubborn things; and as the facts in this case clearly show, the crisis on Cyprus is significantly more complex than the "blame Turkey'' special interest groups would like people to believe. It's time for these groups and their friends in Congress to end the "blame game'' and get down to the real work of reshaping Cyprus into a Cyprus that respects human rights and the fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots."