Pallone Assails Bush Administration for Facilitating U.S. Corporate Trip to Occupied Northern Cyprus
Washington, D.C. --- One day after learning that nine U.S. corporations, accompanied by an Attach from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, are scheduled to visit occupied northern Cyprus later this week to explore possible business opportunities, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking that she reconsider this ill-advised and illegal trip. In his letter, the New Jersey congressman said the delegation would be breaking the law by entering Cyprus through an "unauthorized" airport in the occupied north.
"Entering Cyprus from an illegal port of entry constitutes a violation of both Cyprus' domestic law and international law, and perhaps even more objectionable is the involvement of a U.S. official in violating these laws," Pallone wrote in his letter to Secretary Rice. "Moreover, any business activity either in or involving the Turkish occupied section of Cyprus is problematic, since it entails possible use of properties of Greek Cypriot refugees, who were forcibly evicted from northern Cyprus after the Turkish invasion of 1974. In addition, there is no international treaty that protects foreign investments in the so-called 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.'
"In this respect, U.S. corporations should also be informed before their visit that if they choose to expand business to the occupied section of Cyprus they would not be the rightful owners of any property they acquired, since, the rightful owners remain, to this day, the Cypriots who were forced from their homes and businesses more than 30 years ago," Pallone continued.
The New Jersey congressman, a member of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, also expressed his deep concern over the Bush administration's blatant shift in policy towards Cyprus that's become apparent since the Greek Cypriots rejected a United Nations reunification proposal offered by U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan last year. Pallone rejects the belief that the United States Government should punish Greek Cypriots for going to the voting booth and concluding, rightly in his opinion, that the Annan Plan forced them to make far more concessions than Turkey.
Pallone said he was particularly concerned by comments made earlier this month by Secretary Rice in Turkey in which she stated: "We are looking at what we can do to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots because, we, like everyone else, were disappointed that the Annan plan was not adopted. We have taken some steps, direct aid for instance to Turkish Cypriots, but there are probably other things that we should look at doing."
In his letter, Pallone reminded the Secretary of State that the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots derives from the ongoing occupation of the northern third of the island by Turkish troops and that our efforts should be concentrated on the withdrawal of these troops.
"While the U.S. government should work to make the lives of Turkish-Cypriots better, it's simply unacceptable for our government to help the Turkish-Cypriot 'government' that continues to illegally rule the northern third of the island," Pallone continued in his letter. "The Bush administration simply cannot ignore well-established international law as a way to punish the Greek Cypriots for their democratic vote in opposition to the Annan Plan."
Pallone believes the new Secretary of State must take a historic look at the Cyprus problem over the last 30 years when developing U.S. policy. He wrote that it's important the U.S. Government not only look at the Cyprus problem through the lens of the Annan vote last year, but also from the perspective of three decades of illegal actions on the Turkish side.
"I hope you will then conclude that it's in the best interests of our nation to support a united democratic Cyprus, free of any Turkish occupation or any Turkish troops. I also hope you'll realize that it's not in the best interests of U.S. corporations to explore investment options in the Turkish occupied section of Cyprus and reconsider this ill-advised trip," Pallone concluded.
The nine U.S. corporations scheduled to visit the occupied north are: American Express Corporation, Comcast Corporation, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., El Paso Corporation, FedEX Corporation, GNC Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Ramond James and Associates, Inc. and Shaw/Stone & Webster.