|Thursday, 2 February 2023|
Andrew Manatos' before House International Relations Committee, 97-03-13
March 13, 1997
I and the national Greek-American organizations on whose boards I serve value this opportunity to participate in our democratic process. We present to you our recommendations for American policies toward and foreign assistance levels to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus in fiscal years 1998 and 1999. We believe that these recommendations will significantly benefit our country's long-term interests.
American interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and the southern Balkans have been injured by the fact that our country's traditional policy toward Turkey has failed. While we practiced a policy of silence and largess toward Turkey in the face of clear Turkish wrongdoing, Turkey has dangerously increased such wrongdoing. Our traditional policy is contributing to making Turkey much more powerful militarily as it moves closer to our enemies, further from the human rights of its people and closer to war with our allies. This policy has done the opposite of what it set out to do -- increased instability in the Eastern Mediterranean and Southern Balkans and made Turkey a less reliable ally -- undermining the fundamental interests of the United States.
As my testimony will show, there is a significant correlation between the application of our traditional policy toward Turkey and Turkey's movement away from U.S. objectives. My testimony will also point out an important role that the U.S. Congress, and the United States in general, can play over the next two years to improve the prospects for American security interests in this region.
President's Requested Aid LevelsWith regard to the specific aid levels that President Bill Clinton requested of the Congress for Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, we are encouraged by his intentions, but urge your committee and the Congress to do more. For the fifth year in a row, President Clinton's request maintained the 10-to-7 ratio of military aid to Turkey and Greece and included the full $15 million in economic aid for Cyprus. The President's requests for overall aid to Turkey continue to decline each year. We believe, however, that, in light of Turkey's aggressive use of that aid and promise of even more aggressive use, it is unfortunate that any military aid for Turkey was requested at all.
When this committee considered a Foreign Assistance Authorization Bill for fiscal years 1996 and 1997, it appropriately ended budget authority for military aid to both Turkey and Greece in fiscal year 1996. We urge you to maintain this policy in fiscal years 1998 and 1999. Sending additional military aid to the Eastern Mediterranean will only increase tensions and instability in the area. The primary reason Greece and Cyprus need military equipment is to defend themselves against U.S. arms in Turkish hands.
With regard to the traditional $15 million earmark in economic aid for Cyprus, it is important that the committee maintain this demonstration of support for a peaceful reunification of the island. An authorization of anything less would send the people of Cyprus the wrong message at perhaps the most crucial time for settlement efforts in the nearly 23 years since the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus.
Important Bill LanguageWith regard to important issues to address in the text of the Foreign Aid Authorization Bill, we highlight for you three very separate and very distinct major issues: (1) Cyprus settlement efforts; (2) respect for international law and territorial integrity in the Eastern Mediterranean; and (3) the protection and full functioning of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
With regard to efforts to bring about a Cyprus settlement, we urge this committee to adopt language much like that recently adopted by the United Nations and the European Union. In his final report of his mission of good offices in Cyprus to the U.N. Security Council (on 12/19/96), U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali stated that, "the status quo in Cyprus is most unstable and is not tenable...an urgent effort is accordingly required in 1997."
The U.N. Security Council followed by unanimously adopting Resolution 1092/1996 (on 12/23/96) which stresses the importance of the island's demilitarization and reaffirms the United Nations' position that:
"a Cyprus settlement must be based on a state of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safe-guarded, and comprising two politically equal communities as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, and that such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or succession."The European Parliament adopted three resolutions on Cyprus which serve as appropriate guides for your committee. A resolution adopted (on 9/19/96) by a unanimous vote states that the European Parliament, "supports the proposal of the Cyprus government for the demilitarization of the island and asks Turkey to withdraw its occupation forces and abide by United Nations resolutions on Cyprus." In another resolution adopted on that same day, by an overwhelming vote of 319 for and 23 against, the European Parliament, "urges the Turkish Government to accept and apply U.N. resolutions that call, in particular, for the withdrawal of the occupying military forces and for a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus question." One month later (on 10/23/96) the European Parliament adopted a resolution by unanimous consent, stating that it, "calls upon the Member States to respond [to Turkish killings in Cyprus] with continued firm pressure on Turkey with the aim of freeing the island of the presence of all Turkish troops."
Cyprus' accession to the European Union (E.U.) can also serve as a catalyst for efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement. Negotiations for Cyprus' accession are set to begin six months after the conclusion of the E.U. intergovernmental conference (which is expected to begin in June of this year).
This prospect provides a positive dynamic and window of opportunity for a solution in the coming year. In view of the prospect of Cyprus' accession to the E.U., a Cyprus settlement would be compatible with the E.U.'s established norms and requirements. Cyprus' accession to the E.U., as well as a just and viable Cyprus settlement, will be of significant economic and political benefit to all Cypriots and a direct benefit to U.S. security interests.
The U.S. Congress, in its strong endorsement of Cyprus demilitarization (in House Concurrent Resolution 42, adopted last year), and the United Nations, in its binding resolutions regarding Cyprus, have pointed the way to an appropriate Cyprus solution. Adherence to the principles upon which they are based -- demilitarization with a strong democratic federation having a single international identity, sovereignty and citizenship -- will lead to a just and viable solution for all involved.
Mr. Chairman, I would now like to leave the Cyprus issue and address the second issue I mentioned, that of international law and territorial integrity in the Eastern Mediterranean. America has an obligation to hold all counties, particularly U.S. allies, to internationally respected standards of conduct. It is very important that this committee state in this legislation that the United States, the European Parliament and other countries have shown in the Eastern Mediterranean strong international public support for the respect for and adherence to:
In light of recent concerns in Washington about the persecution of Christians around the world, the problems of the Patriarchate should be of particular interest. As the priest-scholar Father George Papaioannou of Bethesda, Maryland testified before Congress, "it was under the leadership and the guidance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that the constitutional and dogmatic framework of the Christian Church was formulated." This is the locale where the New Testament was codified and the Nicene Creed was first written, for example.
Following this attack on the Patriarchate in Istanbul, chairman Gilman and Congressman Hamilton sent a letter to Turkey's ambassador to the U.S. stating their, "deep concern for the security of the property and person of the Ecumenical Patriarchate." In addition they welcomed the ambassador's "expression of the desire to have Turkey become better known as a nation which defends religious freedom." Their suggestion is one that this committee should repeat in this bill:
"One concrete step we believe the Turkish government could undertake to demonstrate its commitment is to permit the Halki Theological School to re-open.
As you know, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, founded in 38 AD, is revered as the spiritual center of world Orthodoxy, and this school has played a seminal role in the training of leaders of the Church. We believe that the time has come to re-open this center of religious education and spiritualism, and we urge your government to take this one step that would contribute greatly to your country's expressed desire to be a nation of religious freedom and tolerance."
We would also encourage the committee to acknowledge the important visit to the United States of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, October 20 through November 9, 1997.
Another issue of concern to the Greek-American community is the Greek minority in Albania. We are particularly concerned about their well-being in light of recent violence in that country. Although relations between Greece and Albania have improved, Albania's Greek minority continues to be denied some of the most basic human rights, particularly in the areas of education, religion, and access to public employment. We urge the committee to support the human rights of the Greek minority in Albania as guaranteed by agreements that Albania has signed and which have been upheld by the International Court of Justice.
The remainder of my remarks will be devoted to outlining the significant correlation between the application of our traditional policy toward Turkey and Turkey's movement away from U.S. objectives.
A FAILED POLICY REGARDING TURKEYNo country, with the exceptions of Israel and Egypt, received more American aid in the last ten years than Turkey -- $5.1 billion. Yet, punctuated by its $23 billion gas deal with Iran, which was strongly American-opposed, Turkey has steadily moved away from American objectives.
Over the years, Turkey has moved toward:
Until the recent involvement of now-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, our traditional policy of silence and largess had in effect endorsed and rewarded incident after incident of Turkish recklessness. President Bill Clinton said, "Reckless acts [must] have consequences or those acts will increase." He spoke about another matter, but the principle he stated explains our failed policy toward Turkey.
Some Examples of Our SilenceWe routinely overlooked prohibited, aggressive use of American arms, such as the KC-135R refueling aircraft tankers, and we seem to reward it by immediately thereafter giving Turkey our most destructive missiles -- the ATACMs. America watched day after day in relative silence as Turkey greatly escalated its misuse of American war planes -- 538 times in 1996 -- to harass and overfly Greek sovereign territory. On the day that the Greek Prime Minister Constantinos Simitis met with President Bill Clinton, Turkey audaciously set its one day record of 48 overflights of Greek air space. Twice we moved to the morally and legally questionable position of support for Turkey's invasion of Iraq and their crushing of the Kurds. In addition, we remain silent while Turkey continues to upgrade its illegal occupation force on Cyprus with U.S. arms.
Some Examples of Our LargessOur armament largess has been so great that American taxpayers have foregone for Turkey $324.5 million in cash and a total of $1.8 billion, including loans, in foreign aid [mostly armaments] in just the last four years.
The already large arms shipments to Turkey were increased by two-and-a-half times in recent years. Also, America helped Turkey greatly by securing their customs union with the European Union.
The U.S. Congress has recently put a halt to the flow of U.S. arms sales and transfers to a Turkey which has been threatening war against U.S. allies Greece and Cyprus:
Worsening Islamic FundamentalismIslamic fundamentalism in Turkey has grown significantly in numbers and extraordinarily in power in recent years. In 1987, the Islamic party was 29.1 percent behind the most popular party. By 1991 it was 10.1 percent behind the leader and by 1994, it was only 2.8 percent behind. By the last election, in December 1995, the Islamic party had overtaken the largest political party and, in coalition, gained control of the government. Today, the Islamic party controls the country and is moving rapidly and in major ways toward Iran and Iraq.
Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan said in June of 1996, "We will create an Islamic U.N., an Islamic NATO, an Islamic version of the E.U. and an Islamic currency." He said he plans to do away with "world imperialism and Zionism as well as Israel..."
Turkey chose from among the 191 countries of the world to first visit and/or sign major agreements with four nations all of which are identified by the U.S. as sponsors of international terrorism -- Iran, Iraq, Cuba and Libya. Turkey's government, while sometimes using pro-Western rhetoric, is placing fundamentalists in high ranking Turkish government positions.
Worsening Human RightsOn the human rights front, the abuses of recent years have gotten greater:
Threatening, Taking and Keeping Greek and Cypriot Sovereign TerritoryWhile our recent arms policy has seriously injured the ability of Greece and Cyprus to defend themselves against Turkey, Turkey has:
ConclusionDuring an American strategy of silence and largess in the face of clear Turkish wrongdoing, Turkey has dangerously multiplied such wrongdoing. When, for example, Turkey refused to let us use our bases to treat American soldiers dying from the Beirut bombing, our arms largess kept flowing. Such a policy, which was created decades ago in different circumstances, must be reconsidered and changed.
A U.S. Congress step away from such a policy and toward the frank treatment of wrongdoing can improve Turkish conduct. The only two times Turkey announced troop withdrawals from their illegal occupation of Cyprus was when their arms shipments were embargoed -- soon after their invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and in 1984 when they came close to another embargo.
It is clear to everyone that worsening Turkish policies have correlated with an American policy of massive military largess and general silence in the face of Turkish wrongdoing. This policy toward Turkey has clearly failed. Our traditional policies are contributing to a far more militarily powerful Turkey which is much closer to our enemies and closer to war with our allies.
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