To the Editor:
Sir, your recent article Asylum Seekers Find a New Route to Europe accurately records the unfortunate fact that more than 11,200 migrants flowed into the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union, in 2019, a number proportionately higher than in any other EU Member. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of these came overland from the north, an area occupied by Turkey following the 1974 invasion. It is inaccurate, however, to state that at that time “there was an attempt to unite the island with Greece.”
Following the condemnable coup that overthrew the legitimate Government of President Makarios by the junta then ruling Greece, Turkey in July/August 1974 used this as pretext to carry out its longstanding plan to invade and occupy Cyprus (averted in 1964 by the Lyndon Johnson letter and in 1968 by the Cyrus Vance diplomacy) and to carry out ethnic cleansing resulting in more than two hundred thousand Greek Cypriot refugees.
The situation has continued ever since then with some 40,000 Turkish troops in the islamized unrecognized northern third of the island. The Republic of Cyprus houses these refugees and considers the granting of asylum to them in accordance with its international law obligations. But it should be recognized by your readers that this is a considerable burden which is not easy to bear, in addition to the other burdens caused by the continued Turkish occupation.
Former Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. and UN
New York, NY