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The American Hellenic Institute (AHI), in a letter to US President Barack Obama, raises a number of issues in view of his forthcoming visit to Turkey, noting that ''the projection of US interests in the region depends heavily on the stability of the region and therefore the US has an important stake in fostering good relations between two NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, and in achieving a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem.''

It adds that ''Turkey’s continuing occupation of Cyprus, its intransigence in solving the Cyprus problem, its refusal to recognise the Republic of Cyprus and its veto to the accession of Cyprus to international organisations, its continuing violations of Greece’s territorial waters and airspace, and continuing religious and human rights violations in Turkey, prevents this stability and damages US interests.''

Regarding Cyprus, AHI notes that ''Turkey contributes more than 350 million dollars annually in direct economic support to the regime in the occupied part of Cyprus, and it is estimated that the total cost to Turkey of its illegal occupation amounts to 1 billion dollars annually.''

''This is money that can serve a more useful purpose in our fight in the war against terrorism, such as Afghanistan,'' AHI points out.

It adds that ''Cyprus is an important nation for US interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East'' and that ''the British Bases on Cyprus and the British listening posts on Cyprus are on Cypriot territory have been of significant importance to the US,'' noting that ''Cyprus is a member of the EU and a Western-oriented country, and it is important to US interests that it remains so.''

''We support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing key American principles, the EU acquis communautaire, UN resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European courts, as in the best interests of the United States,'' it says.

AHI calls on Obama ''to ask Turkey to demilitarise Cyprus now, withdraw its 43,000 occupation troops illegally in Cyprus, return to Turkey the 180,000 illegal settlers/colonists from Turkey in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, tear down the green line barbed-wire fence across the face of Cyprus which, together with Turkey’s 43,000 occupation forces, is the real cause of the alleged isolation of the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied northern part of Cyprus, and warn Turkish leaders not to manipulate the current talks or restrict Mr. Talat at the bargaining table.''

Furthermore, it notes that the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is ''an isolation imposed by Turkey'' and points out that ''the removal of Turkey’s troops, colonists and barbed-wire fence would end the Turkish Cypriot’s economic isolation caused by Turkey and go a long way to solving the Cyprus problem because the Greek and Turkish Cypriots could then work out a fair and effective agreement.''

''Advocating these policy decisions would underscore support for the rule of law and respect for international law. This would illustrate that the US truly wishes to advance the cause of solving the 35-year-old Cyprus problem. Continuing former failed policies that promote a double standard in applying the rule of law to Turkey and the continuing appeasement of Turkey does not serve US interests,'' AHI says.

Furthermore, AHI raises issues concerning the Aegean Sea and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Christian Church in Turkey.

The letter is signed by AHI President Aleco Haralambides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct talks since September 2008 with an aim to reach a comprehensive settlement that will reunite the island.

Financial Mirror, March 30, 2009|||AHI raises Cyprus problem in view of Obama's visit to Turkey
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