Newsroom / CNA
The attack on UN peacekeepers in the dead zone in Pyla was a completely unacceptable violation of international law, and the United Nations Security Council should promptly pass a resolution condemning the recent assault on Cypriot territory, stated Robert Menendez, the President of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate, during his speech at the World Conference of Cypriots in the Diaspora at the Presidential Palace. He spoke about the threat of annexation of the occupied areas by Turkey.
Mr. Menendez emphasized that we must remain vigilant because Erdogan could change his stance at any moment, especially concerning his aggression towards Cyprus. He added that Erdogan's desire to extend his authoritarian power makes it more crucial than ever for the U.S. to align with the Republic of Cyprus.
He believes that his country has an important role to play in supporting Cyprus in its fight for justice, reunification, peace, and security.
Speaking before the President of the Republic, the President of the House of Representatives, other officials, and many expatriate Cypriots, Mr. Menendez criticized the policy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, referring to his actions as those of an authoritarian leader. He urged the UN Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy to assist in revitalizing negotiations for a lasting solution to the Cyprus issue.
He raised the question of why, until today, 40,000 Turkish troops still illegally occupy 36% of the Republic of Cyprus, making it one of the most militarized regions in the world.
Referring to the events in the dead zone, Mr. Menendez stated that Turkish forces attacked UN peacekeepers. He criticized Erdogan's lack of action to prevent this and pointed out Erdogan's efforts to consolidate his authoritarian power.
Mr. Menendez mentioned Erdogan's attempts to settle Famagusta, which violates UN Security Council resolutions, a stance strongly condemned by the U.S. and the EU. He stressed the need to continue condemning such actions.
He concluded by saying that the Turkish invasion has forever changed the island and its people, and urged for a commitment to defending human rights, promoting democracy, and supporting a just state. He envisioned a future where the last Turkish soldier leaves Cyprus, allowing both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to find their destiny in peace and security.
Mr. Menendez pledged to contribute to further developing U.S.-Cyprus relations and to press for Cyprus's inclusion in the U.S. visa waiver program.
He also expressed support for strengthening the military cooperation between the US and Cyprus and exchanging information between the two countries.
"The strategic position of Cyprus is valuable for our collective security," he mentioned, noting that he desires to see deeper collaboration in the energy sector, where Cyprus has much to offer.
He also called on the President of the US, Joe Biden, to make the resolution of the Cyprus issue one of the highest priorities in his foreign policy agenda. "We need to move from simple condemnation to action," he noted.
Referring to the Cypriot diaspora in the US, Mr. Menendez emphasized their contribution to promoting friendship between the US and Cyprus, while expressing appreciation for President Anastasiades' stance that you cannot forcibly occupy another country's territory.
Mr. Menendez greeted the attendees in Greek, saying "Good evening" and ended his speech with a "Thank you."
He further mentioned that his wife's mother was born in Nicosia and that both he and his wife are very happy to be back in Cyprus, especially in its unique capital, Nicosia.
He also mentioned that he had a very productive meeting with President Anastasiades, whom he referred to in his speech, as well as with the President of the House and the Ministers who were present.
Taking the floor before Mr. Menendez's speech, President of PSEKA, Philip Christopher, characterized the American Senator as the greatest Philhellene in the history of Hellenism.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]