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Andrew Manatos' before House International Relations Committee, 97-03-13


Testimony of:
ANDREW E. MANATOS
president, THE NATIONAL COORDINATED EFFORT OF HELLENES
on behalf of:
THE UNITED HELLENIC AMERICAN CONGRESS (UHAC),
THE PANCYPRIAN ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA,
THE INTERNATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE -- JUSTICE FOR CYPRUS (PSEKA)
and THE NATIONAL COORDINATED EFFORT OF HELLENES
presented before the House Committee on International Relations

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 Levels

With 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 Language

With 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:

  • international treaties;
  • the territorial integrity of all countries;
  • internationally-recognized borders; and
  • for those who question the status quo, an appeal to a proper international judicial or consensual body;
and strong international public opposition to:
  • the use of force; or
  • the treat of the use of force by those who question the status quo.
With regard to the third issue listed above, the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey, the spiritual center for over 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, we urge the committee to follow the lead of its chairman and ranking minority member, Congressmen Gilman and Hamilton, respectively. On September 30 the Patriarchate came under grenade and machine gun fire attack. Although no one was injured, the explosion tore off the corner of the roof of the Patriarchal Cathedral and blew out the windows of the sleeping quarters of the clergy and lay residents of the Patriarchal compound. Luckily, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was not in his sleeping quarters at the time of this explosion.

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 TURKEY

No 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:

  1. Islamic fundamentalists and Islamic terrorist countries;
  2. the abuse of domestic human rights, and
  3. the threatening, taking or keeping of their neighbors' territory [Greece and Cyprus].
A tracking of the trends shows a significant correlation between the application of our traditional policy toward Turkey and Turkey's movement away from U.S. objectives. The American policy and Turkish national trends are not dissimilar to our experience with Iran and Iraq.

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 Silence

We 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 Largess

Our 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:

  • 83 members of Congress, representing over 45 million Americans, objected to the proposed sale of four U.S. Sea Hawk Helicopters, worth $113 million, to Turkey. This group included the Chairman of the House International Relations Committee and over half of the members of the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.
  • 21 senators, representing almost half of the U.S. public, and including half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, objected to the proposed sale of ten U.S. Super Cobra Helicopters to Turkey.
  • The transfer of three U.S. frigates, worth $150 million, to Turkey was put on hold.

Worsening Islamic Fundamentalism

Islamic 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 Rights

On the human rights front, the abuses of recent years have gotten greater:
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that in 1995 Turkey "imprisoned more journalists than any other country for the second consecutive year." The situation worsened in 1996, according to the Paris-based group Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF - Reporters Without Borders), who reported [on 2/4/97] that 154 journalists were victims of police abuse in 1996.
  • Amnesty International report [11/20/96] titled "Turkey: Children at Risk of Torture, Death in Custody, and `Disappearance'" documented children as young as 12, in some cases detained on suspicion of very minor offenses, being subjected to appalling cruelty in police custody -- including beatings, electric shocks and hosing with cold water.
  • The Turkish Human Rights Foundation reported that during just the first half of 1996, 3,000 cases of torture were reported.
  • The lawyer defending Turkey in the European human rights courts quit in November of 1996 stating that, "Turkey always promises, but never fulfills...Defending Turkey is impossible in the current conditions."
  • In an unprecedented act, even the Journal of the American Medical Association strongly criticized Turkey [in August, 1996]. It reported that a study of Turkish doctors found "that nearly everyone who is detained is tortured."
  • Of all the countries in the world on which our State Department reported on human rights practices, Turkey ranked second only to China in the number of pages devoted to human rights problems -- 41. On January 30, 1997 the State Department reported that in Turkey in 1996, "Serious human rights problems continued. The Government was unable to sustain improvements made in 1995 and, as a result, its record was uneven in 1996 and deteriorated in some respects."
  • Perhaps most disturbing is Turkey's continued disregard of this issue of international concern:
    "There is no particular human rights problem in Turkey. Western countries shouldn't talk to us about human rights. It's like an old record. When Western diplomats or cabinet ministers come to visit us, they take out this old record and play it. It has no meaning."

    Turkey's Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan
    New York Times Magazine, February 23, 1997

Threatening, Taking and Keeping Greek and Cypriot Sovereign Territory

While our recent arms policy has seriously injured the ability of Greece and Cyprus to defend themselves against Turkey, Turkey has:
  • temporarily occupied sovereign Greek territory [Imia];
  • threatened war against Greece through official acts of its parliament and prime minister;
  • claimed sovereignty over numerous Greek isles and islets;
  • shot and killed, over five months, four unarmed Greek-Cypriots;
  • through its foreign minister, for the first time began referring to the occupied area of Cyprus as Turkish territory;
  • maintained its illegal occupation of Cyprus
  • been threatening to attack Cyprus.

Conclusion

During 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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