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Manatos Testifies before U.S. Congress, 97-03-14

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"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," said Andrew E. Manatos as he testified today before the House International Relations Committee with regard to the Foreign Assistance Authorization Bill for fiscal years 1998 and 1999. "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," said Manatos.

Manatos was part of a panel which included the executive director of AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee), the president of the Irish National Caucus, and a representative of Africare. He testified on behalf of several national Greek-American organizations including the National Coordinated Effort, the United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC), the Pancyprian Association of America, and the International Coordinating Committee -- Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA).

Manatos' testimony was accentuated by the presence in the hearing room of Costa Nicolaou of Bethesda, Maryland (originally from Cyprus). Mr. Nicolaou's brother is one of the 1,619 missing in Cyprus, for whom a legislatively-mandated report is expected, and his wife Maria's father was murdered on Cyprus by Turkish-Cypriots. As Mr. Nicolaou stood before the International Relations Committee, Manatos read a statement indicating the opinion of Costa and Maria Nicolaou -- that even in light of the past, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots can live together having nothing to fear from each other.

With regard to Turkish threats against Greece, Manatos urged the committee to adopt language highlighting the fact that, "America has an obligation to hold all counties, particularly U.S. allies, to internationally-respected standards of conduct...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 international treaties, the territorial integrity of all countries, and internationally-recognized well as strong international public opposition to the use of force or the threat of the use of force by those who question the status quo."

With regard to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey, Manatos urged the adoption of language urging Turkey to properly protect and allow for the full functioning of this spiritual center for over 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. Manatos stated that, "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...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." Manatos also asked the committee to urge Turkey to allow the re-opening of the Halki Theological School.

With regard to the Greek minority in Albania, Manatos said, "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."

For more information, please contact Mike Manatos at (202) 393-7790.

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