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Let’s make sure that every Turkish soldier leaves Cyprus, Senator Menendez says

Bob Menendez, Robert Menendez
File photo: Senator Robert Menendez

US Senator, Robert Menendez, has stressed the need for every Turkish soldier to leave Cyprus, and reiterated that he will not approve the sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey.

He was speaking during an online event anniversary organized on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the unilateral declaration of the “independence” of the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state organised by Coordinating Committee of the Cyprus Struggle (PSEKA). The event was also attended by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Senators Chris Van Halen, John Sarbanis and Dina Titus, the Presidential Commissioner Fotis Fotiou, the President of PSEKA Philip Christopher and representatives of Cypriot and Greek expatriate organisations.

Senator and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez said he is proud to be a supporter of the Cyprus cause, asking everyone make sure that the last Turkish soldier leaves Cyprus. He reiterated that he will not approve the sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey.

“Erdogan’s continuing willingness to flex his authoritarian muscles to Cyprus and around the world means that it is more important than ever that America stands shoulder to shoulder with the Republic of Cyprus. I am proud to be a long-time supporter of the Cypriot cause and the decades of struggle for security and democracy in the Eastern Mediterranean. As you know I am fully committed to the Republic of Cyprus’s sovereignty,” he noted.

He added that he was happy when the Biden administration certified Cyprus to buy American-made weapons.

“It is an important achievement but there is still more work to do,” he added.

Moreover, he said that “the threat of the occupied area is one that has to be taken very seriously. The US should not put any F-16 fighter jets in President Erdogan’s hands. I will not approve any F-16s for Turkey until he holds his campaign of aggression across the entire region.

“There is so much that Cypriots, New Jerseyans and all Americans can accomplish together when we work with each other. Let’s make sure that every last Turkish soldier leaves the island of Cyprus once and for all,” he added.

Kasoulides expressed his appreciation for Senator Menendez’s participation in the online debate. “His role in the rapprochement between Cyprus and the USA was vital. We are currently in the midst of cataclysmic developments in Europe,” he added.

Kasoulides referred to the war in Ukraine, stressing that “with our own tragic experience of the military invasion and the Turkish occupation of more than one third of our territory we are in a position to better understand the tragic situation in Ukraine.

In his intervention, US Representative Gus Bilirakis said, among other things, that “we continue to focus on the illegal occupation of Cyprus. Much more work needs to be done. All Cypriots deserve an end to the senseless division of their homeland”.

Senator Chris Van Halen thanked Menendez for keeping “alive” the cause of justice in Cyprus.

Democratic member of the US Parliament, Chris Papas, said, among other things, that “it is very important not to forget what happened in 1974, what happened in 1983 with the establishment of the so-called ‘republic of northern Cyprus’. We know what the Turks did, they removed people from their communities.” Moreover, he referred to Erdogan’s illegal action to open the beach in the fenced-off city of Famagusta.

UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN. UN Security Council resolution 789 (1992) also urges that with a view to the implementation of resolution 550 (1984), the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus be extended to include Varosha.

Despite this, the Turkish Cypriot leadership announced in July 2021 a partial lifting of the military status in Varosha. A few months earlier, on October 8, 2020, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Varosha, following an announcement made in Ankara on October 6. The UN Security Council called for the reversal of this course of action, while the UN Secretary General, in his latest report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, reiterated his concern over developments in the fenced-off area, noting that the position of the UN on Varosha remains unchanged.

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