Congressman Pallone Condemns Rauf Denktash
Asks Denktash To Apologize & Recommit Himself to the Peace Process
Washington, D.C. October 2 --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), a member of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, last night on the House floor condemned comments made yesterday by Turkish Cypriot Leader Rauf Denktash comparing United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan to former Yugoslavian President Slobadan Milosevic. The New Jersey congressman also sent a letter to Denktash yesterday in which he asked Denktash to apologize for his statements and also recommit himself to the Cyprus peace process.
"I was shocked to learn of your comments yesterday in an interview with the Anadolu Agency that compared United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan with indicted war criminal Slobadan Milosevic," Pallone wrote. "This could not be further from the truth. Milosevic is accused of the worst of crimes against the ethnic Albanians, and Kofi Annan works tirelessly for the advancement of global truth and justice. In order to set the record straight, I ask that you issue an apology to the Secretary General and recommit yourself to the reunification process with the Republic of Cyprus.
"Your statement clearly is not helpful to the reunification process of Cyprus. In sharp contrast, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has proven to bend over backwards in order to move the talks forward. After the failure of the talks in March at The Hague, he did not waiver from his determination to arrive at a solution, stating that despite his 'understandable sense of disappointment, we will not abandon our efforts for a Cyprus solution, which would be functional and viable.'"
Pallone also wrote that Denktash is not truly representing the will of his own citizenry. He pointed to the fact that tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots protested in support of the U.N. plan for reunification with Cyprus earlier this year and demanded that they be given the same rights that are enjoyed by the Greek Cypriots.
"A solution can still be reached in the Cyprus problem. You still have the chance to heed the advice of the international community and the demands of your own people. An apology regarding your recent comments about Kofi Annan, accompanied by a sincere commitment to the reunification talks, will go a long way for the people of Cyprus to have their country back," Pallone concluded in his letter to Denktash.
Pallone also went to the House floor last night to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Cyprus. Since the end of 80 years of British rule in 1960, the New Jersey congressman said this remarkable island of Cyprus and its people have endured great hardships and great triumphs. Despite being divided for the past 29 years, Cypriots have not given up hope that one day they will see the end of the Turkish occupation and the reunification of the island.
"I recently traveled to Cyprus in August; and I firmly believe that all people, Greek, Turkish, Armenian and all of the inhabitants of the island, want to see the end of the intransigence of the Turkish leaders and greet each other as fellow citizens once again," Pallone said in his speech.