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US Senators send letter to Secretary Rice on direct trade with Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus
2006-03-20 11:31:09

Washington, DC, Mar 22 - A letter sent on March 10, 2006 to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by eight Senators expressed deep concern at media reports that the US is planning to establish direct trade with the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus.

“It is an ill-advised action which would reverse nearly 32 years of US policy with respect to non-recognition of the illegal Turkish occupation of the island, violate fundamental tenets of international law and deal a damaging blow to efforts to bring peace and stability to the island,” stressed the Senators. These are: Paul Sarbanes, Olympia Snowe, Barbara A. Mikulski, Tim Johnson, Dianne Feinstein, Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez, Barbara Boxer.

See a copy of the letter here

“The US is obligated under UN Security Council Resolution 541 (1983) to ‘respect the sovereignty, independence (and) territorial integrity’ of the Republic of Cyprus, ‘not to recognize any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus’ and to ‘refrain from any action which might exacerbate the situation’. Direct trade through ports in the occupied areas would therefore be illegal under Cypriot, US and international law,” added the Senators.

Turkey occupies more than one-third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus - now a member of the European Union too - since its 1974 invasion.

In the letter, it is noted that “in response to this aggression, the Republic of Cyprus understandably, and consistent with universally-recognized principles of sovereignty, declared the ports of Famagusta, Kyrenia and Karavostassi prohibited and closed for all vessels, cargo or passengers,” and adds:

“Under international law, coastal states have the authority to regulate ships that enter their ports, including the ability to close down ports to international shipping and the ability to set port entry conditions.”

The Senators also point out that beyond the legal principles, direct trade with the occupied areas of Cyprus would seriously undermine the prospects for a negotiated settlement and eventual reunification of the island. “Trade with Turkish Cypriots can be conducted legally through the Republic of Cyprus, and to circumvent this framework would only reduce incentives and opportunities for economic cooperation between the two communities,” they added.

Moreover, the Senators called on Ms Rice to reaffirm publicly that the United States will maintain its longstanding policy of recognizing the Republic of Cyprus as the sole legitimate government and sovereign authority over the island.

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