- - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today regarding the 40th anniversary of the division of Cyprus, and to encourage a final settlement that makes possible a reunited island and a shared, peaceful and prosperous future for all Cypriots.

Over time, members of this House have delivered, and will deliver, statements denouncing Cyprus‘ status quo, while placing all responsibility of it with Turkey and its actions in 1974. It is scarcely noted that in 1963, as a result of ethnic tension, Turkish Cypriots were compelled to leave the joint institutions of the Republic of Cyprus. This hostile environment for the Turkish Cypriots continued and, in 1974, the Cypriot National Guard, supported by Greece’s military junta, launched a coup to secure enosis — or unification — with Greece. Following the coup, animosity toward Turkish Cypriots increased and the Cyprus that was once unified became an environment where the Turkish Cypriots no longer felt safe nor welcome in their home country. Turkey defends it was within its rights to protect the population as a guarantor power under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee.

Each year, we hear from one side that a final settlement can be achieved once Turkey withdraws its forces from the island. The Turkish government has previously stated time and again its desire for a final settlement that protects the rights and freedoms of both communities, and will allow Turkish troops to return home. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan called again this week for a political settlement based on mutual consensus and the political equality of both communities. Turkish Cypriots demonstrated their desire for the reunification of the island through their support — a decade ago — of the Annan Plan, which contained drastic compromises for both communities, yet was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community. The continuing isolation of Turkish Cypriots from the international community in the 10 years since while Greek Cypriots, as the Republic of Cyprus, utilize EU membership and the global flows of commerce, is an imbalance that must be redressed.

The only solution to this imbalance, and the status quo in total, is a comprehensive agreement where the rights and equality of both communities are recognized, respected and maintained. Both parties will have to give if common ground is to be secured. I call upon both sides to continue their efforts on this front and express my hopes that the administration will do everything within its power to support such a process.

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