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July 24, 2013

Where's the Coverage? Territory Occupied for Decades… Not by Israel


You’re hearing a lot about “occupation�? right now.

Secretary of State John Kerry is doing his best to get Palestinian leaders to resume peace talks with Israel, but they are demanding that negotiations be based on the 1949 armistice lines –that is, before the “occupation.�? Of course, this is all over the news.

The European Union recently released official investment guidelines for the 28 EU countries. This was very widely detailed by the media with the Agence France-Presse reporting:

The guidelines forbid dealing with or funding Israeli entities that lie outside Israel proper and beyond the so-called 1967 Green Line –that is, in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights.

They also require any future signed agreements to recognise that these areas are not part of the Jewish state.

This creates a dilemma for Israel over whether to continue occupying the West Bank and risk damaging its relations with the international community –not to mention its trade prospects– or to comply fully.

But while the press has plenty of column-inches and airtime to devote to Israeli occupation, it has little space or time to report on the anniversary of an occupation that ought really to concern the European Union because it’s actually the occupation of an EU member state, Cyprus.

July 20 was the 39th anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus. This anniversary was covered by the Greek press with almost no coverage in the mainstream media. The Greek-American organization AHEPA released a statement, picked up almost nowhere:

We observe the 39th anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus by the Republic of Turkey. This was, and remains to this very day, an intolerable act; one that is a gross violation of the rule of law, human rights, and democratic ideals. We pause to remember the innocent civilians who lost their lives and the thousands who went missing, including four American citizens whose investigations remain incomplete. The illegal invasion and occupation caused the displacement of 170,000 Greek Cypriot refugees who to this day are unable to return to their homes which is also a violation of human rights as determined by the European Commission on Human Rights. Moreover, Turkey’s restrictions upon religious freedom and destruction of Cyprus’ cultural and religious heritage in Turkish-occupied Cyprus have been well-documented by the U.S. Helsinki Commission, the Law Library of Congress, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and several media publications.

And yet, the European media and the European Union are silent on this occupation of a member state. Douglas Murray of the Henry Jackson Society, who was the keynote speaker at CAMERA’s most recent annual dinner gala, wrote recently:

The northern part of Cyprus has been illegally annexed for the last four decades by Turkey. It is not as though Turkey shares a border with the island. Nor does it have -- as Israel has with the West Bank -- any legitimate historical, political or other territorial claims on the northern part of the island. There is no security reason for Turkey to sustain its occupation, as there is an obvious need for Israel to have defensible borders that do not permit terrorists from the West Bank to fire rockets into Israel, as do its friends in post-disengagement Gaza or southern Lebanon.

But unlike Israel and the West Bank, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus is not even a disputed matter. It was certainly not some understandable territorial gain made after aggressive war waged by Greece. It was outright theft -- an annexation: state terrorism. The entire international community recognizes it as such. Yet in 2013 not only is Turkey not an enemy of the EU, and not only is it a country which enjoys complete diplomatic and trade relations with the EU, it is a country which many leading members and officials of the EU actually want to promote into a full member-state of the EU.

Into the fifth decade of Turkish occupation of Cyprus, there is still no serious dictating by the EU to Turkey over what it must do about northern Cyprus. Turkey does not find itself under even the most remote international pressure finally to disengage from its illegal occupation of the northern part of Cyprus. And that is because for some inexplicable reason the EU does not consider it imperative that Turkey should disengage from the illegal occupation of an EU member state. It does not consider that the future of any region depends on this action. Yet it does persist, even now, with its view that it can dictate to Israel about its borders. And that it can have a constructive role in doing so. Of all the fallacies of the EU, that is surely the topmost.

Clearly all “occupations�? are not created equal. When Israel is involved, even if the territory is in dispute, it’s media coverage 24/7. But when Israel is not involved, even when a sovereign European nation is occupied… Where’s the coverage?

(In addition, when you hear repeatedly about “illegal�? Israeli construction and settlements, ask yourself where the coverage of construction in truly occupied territories is.)

Posted by SC at July 24, 2013 03:52 PM


Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus can be added to its persecution of its own citizens of Kurdish
ethnicity, which it denies by calling them Mountain Turks and its failure to apologize for the genocide
of Armenian citizens of Turkey in 1915.

Posted by: Albert Feldmann at July 25, 2013 12:37 PM

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