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US Congressman sends letter to US Secretary of State over illegal visit
2005-02-16 12:02:04

Nicosia, Feb 16 (CNA) -- US Congressman Frank Pallone has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Concoleezza Rice asking for the reconsideration of a visit of an American business delegation to Cyprus' occupied areas, accompanied by an attache from the US Embassy in Ankara.

In his letter the Congressman said the delegation would be breaking the law by entering Cyprus through an ''unauthorized'' airport in the occupied areas, describing the trip ill advised and illegal.

''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 US official in violating the laws,'' Pallone said in his letter, according to a press release issued by his office.

He added that ''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, US 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,'' he noted.

Pallone, who is 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 UN reunification proposal offered by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last year''.

''Pallone rejects the belief that the US 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,'' the press release said.

It also noted that Pallone was particularly concerned by comments made by Rice in Turkey about US efforts of easing the ''isolation'' of Turkish Cypriots.

In his letter, Pallone reminded the US 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 US 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 said in his letter.

He stressed that 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 the US policy, the press release said.

Pallone wrote in his letter that it is important ''the US 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 will realize that it's not in the best interests of US corporations to explore investment options in the Turkish occupied section of Cyprus and reconsider this ill-advised trip,'' he concluded.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

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