US thanks Cyprus for assisting evacuation of US citizens from Lebanon
Nicosia, Aug 7 (CNA) -- The US Embassy in Cyprus has thanked the Cyprus government and the Cyprus people for their support to US efforts to evacuate thousand of Americans from Lebanon.
"Thank you for your astonishing and moving support of US efforts to return thousands of Americans home safely from Lebanon," a press release issued by the Embassy said, noting that "your generous contributions and unflagging support have helped make this gigantic humanitarian mission a huge success."
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher speaking at a online interactive forum on the State Department website, replying to questions by US citizens, said that many Cypriots told him that they identify with people in Lebanon who are displaced or seeking refuge as Cypriots have recent memories of 1974, when 200,000 people cut of a population of 600,000 were forced to leave their homes.
"This could be one explanation for the tremendous outpouring of support we have witnessed here in Cyprus for Americans arriving from Lebanon to Cyprus before returning home," he added.
To read the whole transcript, please click here.
He thanked the Cypriot government and people "for the tremendous support they provided. The government opened its ports and airports to us, provided us with hundreds of cots at an emergency shelter. Businesses donated milk, baby food, cereal, bread, and medicine for Americans who were waiting at the fairgrounds for onward flights, and individuals by the hundreds volunteered their time and made individual donations as well. It was a heart warming outpouring of support," he noted.
Schlicher noted that "a lesson learned here is that sometimes the most difficult times bring out the best in people. On a more political level, my personal impression is that both Cyprus and Lebanon, in order to achieve stability and meet the aspirations of their people, must find domestic political frameworks which, while somehow taking account of ethnic and cultural and religious diversity, provide a common basis of guaranteed rights, rather as our forebearers did in writing our own Constitution."
"This is the essence of the political task before the Cypriots, with the UN serving as the mediator in the effort. The Cypriots have sensibly decided that the best way to achieve a solution is through a political process, rather than through communal violence and militarization. This is a good example to other countries with similar issues in need of resolution," he noted.
Replying to another question, he said "the United States Government recognizes the Government of Cyprus in Nicosia as the sovereign government of the island, and does not and will not recognize what is known as the ?Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus?. Still, in our effort to help reunite the island, we work with both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in the pursuit of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation."
Furthermore 111 members of the US Congress in a letter to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos express on behalf of the people of the United States "our most sincere gratitude for Cyprus?s extraordinary efforts to assist American citizens evacuating Lebanon. Your government has responded commendably by launching a major effort to support the evacuation of US citizens and other leaving Lebanon," they noted.
Click here to view the letter
"Cyprus? s commendable reaction to this crisis is reminiscent of your country?s response to the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, when Cyrus provided the staging ground for the United States? evacuation and rescue efforts. Today, the whole world is benefiting from Cyprus?s actions and leadership in the region," they said.
The members of Congress appreciated and commended Cyprus?s leadership in this time of crisis.