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Greek American leaders protest proposed illegal US visit to occupied Cyprus
2005-05-26 12:25:22

Washington, DC, May 26 -- Leaders of the Greek American community have spoken out against a proposed visit by US Congressmen to the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkish troops, through an illegal port of entry, saying such moves violate the rule of law.

The visit is organised by the Turkish Caucus in the US Congress, whose chairman Robert Wexler has received hundreds of protest letters from his constituents with regard to the visit.

Supreme President of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) Franklin Manios said in a written statement that he ''strongly protests the manner in which the congressional delegation, plans to visit the illegally occupied Cyprus because it violates the sovereignty of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, an ally on the war on terror.''

''By visiting occupied Cyprus via a direct flight from Turkey into Ertzian airport, an illegal port of entry, the congressional delegation will be violating the rule of law and endorsing decades of human rights violations,'' Manios said.

The AHEPA Supreme President said he would welcome a visit to occupied Cyprus by the delegation ''via legal means, through the Republic of Cyprus, because that will signal goodwill to both Greek and Turkish Cypriots and a strong desire to reconcile the Cyprus issue justly within the boundaries of international law.''

Meanwhile, Panicos Papanicolaou, President of the Cyprus Federation of America, said the trip is ''a very huge step backward'' and called on the congressional delegation to arrive in the southern government controlled part of the island instead of the occupied north.

Nick Larigakis, Executive Director of the American Hellenic Institute, said the trip would hurt reunification efforts, adding that ''the trip really spits in the eye of the legitimate government of the Republic of Cyprus.''

The Greek American community has said in a statement that it would be watching ''very closely which members of Congress participate in this illegal trip at a crucial time for Cyprus settlement efforts.''

Turkish troops have been occupying 37 per cent of Cyprus territory since 1974, in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal.

Moreover, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has said that arriving in Cyprus through the northern Turkish occupied areas of the Republic is illegal as far as international and US law are concerned.

He also said that the arrival of US Congressmen is illegal not only as far as international law is concerned but also as far as US legislation is concerned.

The US, he explained, has incorporated in its own legislation the Chicago Convention which stipulates clearly that landing of aircraft and arrival through airports which a sovereign state declares illegal is a violation of US law.

''Those who say that arriving in occupied Cyprus through a non recognized airport does not violate US law are wrong,'' he pointed out.

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