The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday (18 September, 1995) overwhelmingly adopted a resolution [H. Con. Res. 42] which "reaffirms the position that all foreign troops should be withdrawn from the territory of the Republic of Cyprus," and "considers that ultimate, total demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus would meet the security concerns of all parties involved, would enhance prospects for a peaceful and lasting resolution of the dispute regarding Cyprus, would benefit all of the people of Cyprus, and merits international support."

A comprehensive proposal for the demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus (contingent on the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation forces) was submitted to the U.N. in 1993 by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, to break "the counter-productive climate of fear and mistrust and thus enhance the prospects of a negotiated settlement." Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole also advocated such a course as far back as 1978 and, in May, U.S. Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Richard Beattie called the demilitarization issue "one of the most important and one of the first to be discussed as part of an overall settlement."

Unfortunately, Turkey has refused to even consider demilitarization of Cyprus, and instead continues to build up its occupation forces. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and as the Congressional resolution notes "the military occupation by Turkey of a large part of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus has continued for over 20 years." In expressing "its continued strong support for efforts by the United Nations Secretary General and the United States government to help resolve the Cyprus problem," the House of Representatives "welcomes the appointment of a Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus" who was appointed by President Clinton as a further indication of his commitment to a Cyprus settlement.

The strong bipartisan support for the resolution reflects the frustration of the U.S. Congress caused by Turkish intransigence and the need to adopt a breakthrough on Cyprus. As the resolution states, "the continued overwhelming presence of more than 30,000 Turkish troops on Cyprus hampers the search for a freely negotiated solution to the dispute regarding Cyprus."

During a recent visit to Cyprus Representative Ben Gilman (R-New York), Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, expressed that same position in stating, on August 31, that "more must be done to pressure Turkey on the need to withdraw the Turkish army from Cyprus." And Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), in introducing a similar bipartisan resolution [S. Con. Res. 11] that was adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last June, emphasized that the presence of the Turkish occupation force "forms the bedrock of the continuing political impasse" on the Cyprus issue.

To help break that impasse the Congressional resolution "encourages the United Nations Security Council and the United States Government to consider alternative approaches to promote a resolution of the long-standing dispute regarding Cyprus based upon relevant Security Council resolutions, including incentives to encourage progress in negotiations or effective measures against any recalcitrant party." The Cyprus government has long sought such action by the Security Council believing that coercive measures against Turkey may finally produce the flexibility needed for real progress to be achieved.

Cyprus' Ambassador to the United States Andrew Jacovides hailed the adoption of the resolution as a "major step forward" which "substantially advances the efforts of President Clerides and the government of Cyprus towards international acceptance and support for the concept of the demilitarization of Cyprus." Mr. Jacovides expressed great appreciation for the sponsors and supporters of the resolution and all those that made its adoption possible.

19 September, 1995


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