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Annual PSEKA Conference Results in Increasing Support in the US Congress for The Eastern Mediterranean Partnership Act
A major increase in support in the US Congress for the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership – of Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the US – has followed the high-level lobbying at the 35th Annual PSEKA Cyprus Conference June 4-6 in Washington, DC.
Forty one influential US Senators and Members met with conference participants who urged each to support the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership legislation in the House and Senate. Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio introduced S 1102, the “Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act,” in the US Senate on April 10. This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 22 as HR 2913 by Congressmen Ted Deutch, Gus Bilirakis and David Cicilline.
This conference was hosted by PSEKA and Co-Hosted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), HALC, CEH, FCAO, AHEPA, AHI, the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce and HANC. The Presidential Commissioner for Cypriots Abroad and the Missing Persons, Photis Photiou, represented the government of Cyprus and informed the delegates on the latest developments. Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, represented the Government of Greece.
When the conference began, the House bill had 4 cosponsors and the Senate bill had 2. Since then more that 23 members and and 2 senators who came and spoke at the conference have cosponsored.
In addition, a few days after, the full US House of Representatives passed the following language calling for US funding to institutionalize the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership:
“The Committee appreciates the Secretary of State’s presence at the sixth trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, and supports the joint declaration made to increase regional cooperation, support energy independence, and to defend against external malign influences in the region. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than 45 days after the enactment of this Act on available Department of State programs and mechanisms to support further cooperation between the United States and partners in the eastern Mediterranean, and encourages the Secretary of State to provide resources to support annual joint dialogues with officials, including career government personnel, of the Departments of State, Defense and Energy and their counterparts in the Governments of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.”
On July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in violation of the UN Charter and the Fundamental Principles of Internaonal Law. For 44, years, Cyprus and its people remain divided by force. About 37% of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Cyprus is sll under illegal occupation by Turkey with the presence of 40,000, heavily armed Turkish troops.
More than 200,000 Greek Cypriots, who were forcibly expelled from the occupied northern part are still deprived the right to return to their homes and properties. Not only that, but 1,020 persons are still missing and the Turkish military refuses to cooperate in ascertaining their fate. Mass settlers from Anatolia, people who have nothing to do with Cyprus in terms of mentality and culture, have been illegally transferred in the occupied areas with the express intention to change the demographics.
About 500 Greek Orthodox churches have been destroyed and priceless archaeological icons and treasures have been sold in the black market. Usurpation of Greek Cypriot properties continues through illegal construction. A series of UN resolutions and other international organizations condemning the Turkish invasion and calling for the withdrawal of the occupied troops have been ignored by Turkey.