WASHINGTON, DC – The Order of AHEPA marked the 41st “dark anniversary” of Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus with declarations and a series of meetings with top U.S. officials in Washington, DC.
AHEPA Supreme President John W. Galanis issued a statement and noted that “the key to a successful settlement rests in Ankara. We once again call on the U.S. government, as we do every year at this time, to convey a strong message to Turkey that it must provide the Turkish Cypriot community with the necessary freedom to negotiate a solution within the United Nations framework.”
Galanis added, “on this somber anniversary, we again call on Turkey to begin the removal of its troops from Cyprus. We contend these troops would serve a better purpose, especially to NATO, in another theatre or perhaps along Turkey’s porous border where aspiring jihadists flock to Syria to join ISIS,as opposed to Cyprus where there have been more than 18 million incident-free crossings by Greek and Turkish Cypriots.”
On July 23, AHEPA Chairman of the Board Nicholas Karacostas, who is a past supreme president and Executive Director Basil Mossaidis held meetings at the State Department and on Capitol Hill, mostly on the topic of developments with Cyprus.
The purpose of these meetings was to convey AHEPA’s support for a provision in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that requests an assessment of the security relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus. The bill is in conference committee as the House and Senate work out their differences and all of the congressional offices with which AHEPA met are conferees.
Galanis has sent a letter to conferees that conveyed AHEPA’s position on the provision.
On Capitol Hill, the AHEPA leaders met with U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, co-Chair, Congressional Hellenic Caucus the Office of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Member, House Committee on Armed Services.
There were also meetings with the Senate Committee on Armed Services professional staff of U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee.
Chairman Karacostas and Executive Director Mossaidis also met briefly with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.
At the Department of State, they met with Deputy Assistant Secretary Amanda Sloat, Nicole Lima Nucelli, Greece desk officer, and Larina Helm Konold, Cyprus desk Officer, Bureau of European & Eurasian Affairs.
The discussion focused on the current state of the Cyprus settlement talks, reviewed AHEPA’s spring excursion to Cyprus, where the delegation surveyed restoration efforts for Apostolos Andreas monastery, and discussed Greece’s debt crisis.
FULLY ENGAGED ON CRISIS
On July 13, Galanis issues a statement on Greece’s relations with the Troika. “Make no mistake; we understand the agreement, if enacted, means that tough measures will need to be implemented. Challenges still lie ahead. In this regard, our thoughts continue to be with the Greek people, who have suffered greatly during this unyielding, relentless crisis. AHEPA pledges to remain sensitive to the needs of the Greek people and to continue with its humanitarian aid whenever possible.”
The Order and its chapters have been sending humanitarian aid to Greece since the outbreak of the crisis.
Galanis also thanks President Obama for his support, saying “we appreciated the Obama Administration’s engagement on the crisis demonstrated during the past week. We urge the administration to maintain its high-level contacts on this issue and to engage with Greece to ensure Greece returns to growth.”
CYPRUS AMBASSADOR HEARING
AHEPA also attended the nomination hearing for U.S. Ambassador-designate to the Republic of Cyprus Kathleen Ann Doherty. Prior to the hearing, AHEPA outreached to Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee Chairman Ron Johnson, who presided over the hearing, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen, submitting a letter authored by Supreme President John W. Galanis with a set of questions for the senators’ consideration. The letter also conveyed support for Doherty’s nomination.