US Congressman warns over direct flights to occupied Cyprus
Washington DC, Jun 23
Congressman Mike Bilirakis has sent a letter to all members of the US House of Representatives and their staff, warning them about the legal issues regarding direct flights to the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.
In his letter, the Congressman notes that he is not ''discouraging travel to Cyprus, just pointing out that Cyprus' sovereignty must be respected''.
Mr. Bilirakis said: ''I felt that it was my responsibility to inform members and their staff of the political and economic consequences of US citizens, US government personnel and members of Congress flying directly to airports, which are not designated ports of entry''.
''Flights into the occupied airports are not necessary; the Republic of Cyprus encourages visits to the occupied area in a manner that does not create insurmountable legal issues'', underlines Mr. Bilirakis, indicating that such flights ''also raise serious human and property rights issues''.
He urged members of Congress to sign onto a letter he was circulating to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requesting clarification of the State Department's position on direct flights to the north of Cyprus by US citizens, US government personnel and by members of Congress.
''It is very important for members of Congress to hear from their constituents on this issue'', Mr. Bilirakis also noted and encouraged interested Hellenic-Americans to urge their friends and neighbours to call their representative and express their concerns about direct flights to the occupied north of Cyprus.