WASHINGTON, DC – The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) on July 27 virtually hosted an event with U.S. policymakers to commemorate the somber 48th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus. AHI hosted the event in cooperation with the Congressional Hellenic Caucus’s co-chairs, U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
Fifteen members of Congress from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives participated. In addition to Reps. Bilirakis and Maloney, members of Congress who provided remarks included: U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Gary Peters (D-MI); and U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Chris Pappas (D-NH), David Cicilline (D-RI), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chuck Fleishmann (R-TN), Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ).
Special guest speakers included: Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexander Papadopoulou, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States Maria Savvidou-Panayiotou, and Dr. Zenon Christodoulou, chairman, AHEPA Cyprus and Hellenic Affairs Committee. In addition, AHI presented a pre-recorded video from His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. AHI President Nick Larigakis served as moderator and thanked Reps. Bilirakis and Maloney for their sponsorship of the event.
The speakers emphasized their condemnation of Turkey’s illegal invasion and continued occupation of Cyprus and expressed their desire for a proper settlement of the Cyprus issue, peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the need to hold regional actors such as Turkey accountable.
President Larigakis concluded the event by stating: “The American Hellenic Institute will continue to fight for a solution in Cyprus that falls in line with US interests, the rule of law, international law, human rights, and for the good people of Cyprus.”
The complete video recording of the event is available online: https://bit.ly/3QvSJpx.
Ambassador Papadopoulou noted that “the Turkish invasion and occupation of 1974… is a live wound in the hearts and minds of all Hellenes, of the entire Hellenism, but it is also a dark and live wound of the international community’s quest for a rules-based international order.”
Rep. Gus Bilirakis said: “As always, I stand ready to work with the international allies to pursue a free and unified Cyprus because I believe the solution is beneficial to the Cypriot people and will strengthen the strategic partnership between Greece, Cyprus and the United States in order to bring peace and stability to the region.”
“Thank you very much Nick and thank you to AHI for bringing us together and for being such strong advocates on The Hill,” Rep. Dina Titus said. “You provide us with really up-to-date information and help us to solicit support for our causes. This includes, especially, something we’ve been working on more recently: blocking the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.”
“I thank you Nick and AHI for your leadership and partnering with so many organizations that have made restoring justice and freedom for the people of Cyprus a priority,” said Rep. John Sarbanes. “We want to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus. A strong Cyprus, a strong Greece is good for the United States of America.”
“I believe the U.S. must be increasingly vocal and lead the way in ensuring that international law is followed in this matter,” Rep. Maloney noted. “I am committed to demonstrating to Turkey that its actions have consequences, and we in Congress remain vigilant of their violations.”
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said: “I urge the President, Secretary Blinken, and Congress to join calls for the immediate removal of Turkish troops, the return of property to rightful owners, and the reunification of Cyprus. Despite Turkish aggression, President Biden plans to sell U.S. fighter jets to Turkey. We cannot allow this to happen.”
Rep. Chris Pappas said: “I have consistently called for Turkey to withdraw its troops and end the illegal occupation of Cyprus. A stable and reunified Cyprus benefits the United States, the entire eastern Mediterranean, and most of all Cypriots themselves.”
Rep. Grace Meng stated: “This is such an important day to commemorate and observe, to commemorate those whose lives were lost during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus… I know the impact of the Turkish invasion is still deeply felt by families across the regions and here in the U.S., from the families of the missing persons, to the pain and trauma of the destruction of ancestral homes and important historical and religious sites.”