Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced a bipartisan resolution this week calling for the unification of Cyprus, which has been occupied by Turkey since 1974.
The resolution received widespread bi-partisan support and has passed the the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
It calls for the implementation of a United Nations-brokered agreement outlining the reunification of Cyprus. A crucial first step is the withdrawal of 35,000 Turkish occupation troops from the island of Cyprus.
On July 8, 2006, Republic of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed to an UN-sponsored framework establishing a set of principles for the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to find common ground and ensure a lasting peace and eventual reunification, according to the American Hellenic Institute in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Bilirakis, who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee and is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, said he was pleased with the bipartisan support for his resolution and the prospect of Congress lending its support to the July 8 peace process.
"The Committee has acted decisively today to demonstrate its support for a constructive and transparent process toward a reunification of Cyprus," Bilirakis said. "The implementation of the July 8 Agreement would make it possible for a Cyprus that is unified under a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots."
H. Res. 405 acknowledges the key terms of the July 8, 2006, agreement, particularly the formation of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with territory allocated to the Greek and Turkish communities within a united Cyprus.
Bilirakis encouraged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take up the measure before the full House and for both Cypriot leaders to take the initiative and move toward sustained progress in implementing the July 8 Agreement.
"More than 33 years after the division of Cyprus, it is important that both sides now move forward on a dialogue that can pave the way for a more sustainable and lasting peace," said Bilirakis. "I urge Speaker Pelosi to move this important resolution before the full House for a vote. It is now time for this Congress to act in expressing its support for the unification of Cyprus."
Co-sponsors of H. Res. 405 include: Rep. Andrews, Robert E. (D-NJ); Rep. Berkley, Shelley (D-NV); Rep. Brown, Henry E., Jr. (R-SC); Rep. Brown-Waite, Ginny (R-FL); Rep. Capuano, Michael E. (D-MA); Rep. Carnahan, Russ (D-MO); Rep. Crowley, Joseph (D-NY); Rep. Diaz-Balart, Lincoln (R-FL); Rep. Diaz-Balart, Mario (R-FL); Rep Engel, Eliot L. (D-NY); Rep. Fortuno, Luis G. (R-PR); Rep Fossella, Vito (R-NY); Rep. Franks, Trent (R-AZ); Rep. Gallegly, Elton (R-CA); Rep. Hinchey, Maurice D. (D-NY): Rep. Hodes, Paul W. (D-NH); Rep. Holt, Rush D. (D-NJ); Rep. Inglis, Bob (R-SC); Rep. Kennedy, Patrick J. (D-RI); Rep. King, Peter T. (R-NY); Rep. Lee, Barbara (D-CA); Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B. (D-NY); Rep. McCotter, Thaddeus G. (R-MI); Rep. Pallone, Frank, Jr. (D-NJ); Rep. Payne, Donald M. (D-NJ); Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL); Rep. Roskam, Peter J. (R-IL); Rep Sarbanes, John P. (D-MD); Rep. Sires, Albio (D-NJ); Rep. Space, Zachary T. (D-OH); Rep. Van Hollen, Chris (D-MD); Rep. Watson, Diane E. (D-CA).
For more information about the Cyprus issue, go to the American Hellenic Institute Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org or click on one of the many links on this blog.