09/08/12 - Statement on the release and pardon of Ramil Safarov - The pardoning of Ramil Safarov, the murderer of Gurgen Margaryan, is without justification. The basis and reasoning for his transfer to Azerbaijan must be explained to the United States. Azerbaijan has acted to undermine justice and further strain its relationship with Armenia to the detriment of all, and to the benefit of no one but a self confessed murderer. Azerbaijan's contemptible granting of amnesty to Safarov undermines the international community's efforts to forge a peace in the Caucuses.
07/25/12 - Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on Cyprus - Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the 38th year of Turkey's invasion, occupation and colonization of the Republic of Cyprus .
On July 1, Cyprus assumed the six-month presidency of the European Union. Turkey, an EU candidate country, refuses to recognize the Cypriot presidency and has acted to ``freeze'' its communications with the EU. While Turkey refuses to recognize Cyprus , the international community has repeatedly called upon Turkey to withdraw from its occupation of the island republic.
In 1974, Turkey invaded the island citing its purported authority to intervene under the Treaty of Guarantee, a treaty meant to guarantee the independence, sovereignty, constitution and territorial integrity of Cyprus . Turkey asserts that the Constitution of Cyprus is ``null and void,'' yet it justifies its invasion and decades' long occupation of Cyprus upon the Treaty of Guarantee, a treaty which obligates Turkey as a guarantor power to uphold the Cypriot Constitution and preserve the country's independence and territorial integrity.
During Turkey's 38 year occupation of the northern third of Cyprus , it has engaged in the systematic destruction of the island's Hellenic, Christian and Turkish Cypriot heritage. Turkey is extinguishing the voice of the Turkish Cypriots, the community that co-existed with Greek-Cypriots for nearly 500 years until Turkey invaded and forcibly divided the two communities. Turkey's treatment of the indigenous peoples of Cyprus betrays a broader impulse which is manifest in discrimination against Christian and other minorities in territories under its control. Turkey's conduct is so egregious that this year the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom designated it as ``a country of particular concern.''
Turkey, a nation of nearly 80 million people, has with each passing day altered the cultural heritage and demographics of Cyprus , a country of 1 million people. In 1974, Greek Cypriots numbered 506,000 and Turkish Cypriots numbered 118,000. Since then, Turkey has engaged in a radical alteration of the island's demographics. Turkey has resettled nearly 200,000 mainland Turks and garrisoned 45,000 Turkish soldiers in the occupied areas. Turkey's forced colonization of the occupied areas is eradicating the native Turkish Cypriot community and supplanting it with a Turkish community whose culture and national consciousness is foreign to the indigenous and unique Greco-Turkish culture of Cyprus .
The presence of Turkish troops is justified by the pretext that Turkey is protecting Turkish Cypriots. Yet 58,000 Turkish Cypriots voluntarily carry Republic of Cyprus passports, Turkish Cypriots utilize health care facilities and other services in the Republic of Cyprus , and more than 18 million crossings over the green line have occurred without incident. The reality is that each Jay Turkish Cypriots are forced by the presence of 45,000 Turkish troops to idly watch as their culture and identity is overtaken by mainland Turkish colonialists.
Recent discoveries of natural gas off the coasts of Cyprus and Israel have seen these two democracies engage in a cooperative and productive manner for the development of the only Western, democratically controlled energy source in the region. Where Israel and Cyprus have conducted themselves as peaceful democracies, Turkey is using its presence in occupied Cyprus to challenge Israeli interests in the region. It was not so long ago that Turkey held itself out as an ally of Israel.
Cyprus is the canvas that reveals the true face of Turkey--occupier, colonizer and foe of Western democratic values. It is time for this Chamber and the United States to stand with the people of Cyprus and demand that Turkey withdraw its troops and ``cease and desist'' from its unlawful colonization of this small and peaceful country.
07/23/12 - Remarks offered on the House floor on H. R. 2362 - I thank the gentleman for yielding. I rise in opposition to H.R. 2362 because I don't believe that the preferential consideration which it gives to the interest of one country, Turkey, can be justified.
There is no dispute over what many of our colleagues have said today, which is that there are tremendous needs on the part of Native American tribes, and a desire I think shared widely here for economic development opportunities on tribal lands. We all know the statistics. But that goal of achieving enhanced economic development on tribal lands has been achieved through the HEARTH Act. As Congresswoman Maloney just indicated a minute ago, Michael Black, director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, testified that the HEARTH Act ``fosters the same goals identified in H.R. 2362 on a broader scale.'' We don't need this legislation to accomplish all of the important things that have been articulated here.
I have tremendous respect for Congressman Cole, and he just gave a very powerful articulation of the legacy that he carries in his DNA and why he is so passionate about these issues, and we share his perspective on the important need to develop tribal lands, but this particular piece of legislation is redundant at best, and it gives this unjustified preference to Turkish interests.
This presents a number of issues. First of all, there are some concerns on the trade front. Now, I understand the bill was amended because originally it would have given exclusive opportunity to Turkish enterprises without regard to the rest of the WTO nations. Now that's been changed so other the WTO nations can participate.
But if you look at the bill, Turkey's interests are discussed all through it. It's infused with language about Turkey. The findings section is about Turkey. And frankly, a Turkish enterprise could take this bill, once it passed, and use it as a passport to get preferential consideration with respect to these economic opportunities. So I think it does present some continued concern with respect to trade concerns.
But on the foreign policy front, even if you felt it were important to give preferential consideration for purposes of a demonstration project or a pilot project to one nation's interest over others, why would you select the country of Turkey given its record? That's why Ranking Member Berman has sent a Dear Colleague letter around urging opposition to this bill, because he knows from a foreign policy standpoint the record of Turkey.
I have to mention a few of these things because they're compelling. Increasingly, Turkey has become hostile to our ally, Israel, recently threatening to mobilize its air and naval assets to escort ships to Gaza and to stop Israel from developing energy sources in its Exclusive Economic Zone in the eastern Mediterranean.
Secondly, in June of 2010, NATO member Turkey voted against the United Nations resolution imposing sanctions against Iran to thwart its nuclear weapons program.
Thirdly, Turkey has just now been put on the U.S. Commission on International and Religious Freedom watch list for its widespread discrimination of minority religious communities.
Fourthly, Turkey has threatened the use of force to stop Texas-based Noble Energy--this is an American company--from drilling for oil and gas off the shores of Cyprus and Israel and to blacklist any businesses that work with Cyprus or Israel for natural resource extraction.
We've heard the discussion of how Turkey has continually denied the Armenian genocide of 1915 to 1923 during which 1.5 million Armenians perished and since 1993 has maintained a destabilizing blockade of Armenia.
Now some would say these are irrelevant issues. They're very relevant. If you're going to choose a country to which you're going to extend some preferential consideration, these kinds of activities and this kind of legacy ought to be part of your consideration.
Finally, for more than 38 years, Turkey has illegally occupied the northern third of the island Republic of Cyprus, which is a member of the European Union. In fact, as of July 1, Cyprus assumed the presidency of the European Union, but Turkey refuses to recognize this.
These are all relevant to the question of whether a preferential consideration ought to be extended to one country. It's not justified, and it's not warranted. I join Ranking Member Markey and Ranking Member Berman in urging opposition to H.R. 2362.
07/23/12 - Remarks offered on the House floor on Cyprus - (Mr. SARBANES asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the 38th year of Turkey's invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus . I do so only days after Cyprus assumed the 6-month presidency of the European Union, yet Turkey, an EU candidate country, refuses to recognize the Cypriot presidency and has acted to freeze its communications with the European Union.
Since 1974, Turkey has engaged in the systematic destruction of the island's Hellenic, Christian, and Turkish Cypriot heritage. This year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom placed Turkey on its watch list ``as a country of particular concern.''
The presence of 45,000 Turkish troops on the island, along with over 200,000 Turkish colonialists, is an offense to human dignity.
Mr. Speaker, it is time for Turkey to meet the expectations of the international community by ending its decades-long occupation of Cyprus.
04/12 - Rep. Markey authored a dissenting view in the House Resources Committee report on the Indian Tribe-Turkey investment bill that ANCA and AHEPA opposed. The dissent, which did not discuss the Armenian Genocide, but mentioned that supporters could not justify only giving Turkey and not other countries a preference, was joined by Reps. Holt, Napolitano, Tsongas, Sarbanes, and Grijalva. In contrast, another view authored by Reps. Pallone and Tsongas expressed opposition to the bill specifically because of Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide, occupation of Cyprus, and threats against Cyprus and Israel for energy exploration off of Cyprus' coast. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-112hrpt451/pdf/CRPT-112hrpt451.pdf
04/18/12 - Remarks offered on the House floor - http://sarbanes.house.gov/u2b_gallery.asp?videoID=142 - The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Sarbanes) for 5 minutes.
Mr. Speaker, the genocide of more than 1 1/2 million Armenians by Ottoman-era Turkish authorities is an undeniable fact of history. In 1915, the Armenian nation which had resided in Anatolia for thousands of years was subjected to an organized barbarity that included death marches, drowning, and executions.
Those who managed to survive these horrors scattered to the four corners of the Earth. Today, survivors of the Armenian genocide and their children and grandchildren bear witness to this massacre. Each year, Armenian Americans, supported by others who readily accept the teachings of history, renew their plea that the United States Government formally recognize the Armenian genocide , and every year that responsibility of recognition remains unfulfilled.
When faced with the deeply compelling research and scholarship surrounding the Armenian genocide , it is wholly untenable to assert that the genocide did not occur. Instead, many in Congress offer the protest that recognition would harm our relationship with Turkey and undermine our broader geostrategic interests. Others suggest weakly that it is just not the right time to push the issue of recognition. The result is the same - the continued failure on the part of the United States to do the right thing. This failure puts salt on the wounds of the Armenian people. But it does more than that. It corrodes the moral standing of our Nation as a whole.
I join those who once again, at this time of annual remembrance, implore my fellow Members of Congress and President Obama to formally recognize the Armenian genocide.
11/01/11 - Sarbanes and Pallone wrote a letter to the Indian Affairs Subcommittee expressing concerns about a bill, which would give Turkish businesses special trade preferences on Indian tribal lands.
07/20/11 - Remarks offered on the House floor on Cyprus - The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Sarbanes) for 5 minutes.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today, as I do each year on the anniversary of Turkey's unlawful invasion of Cyprus , to again call upon Turkish authorities to end the 37-year military occupation of this island nation. The tragic history of the occupation is well-documented. Sadly, with each passing year, still more indignities are visited upon the Cypriot people.
On Christmas morning, 2010, a large number of Orthodox Christians made their way to the Saint Sinesios Church. During the prayer service, the Turkish occupation authorities barged into the church, drove out the worshipers, and sealed the doors of the building. This was an assault on religious freedom. A few months ago, on May 2, Turkish occupation authorities demolished the 200-year old Chapel of Saint Thekla located in the village of Vokolida. This, too, was an assault on religious freedom. These are among countless examples of the systematic repression and destruction of the Orthodox Christian faith that is carried on by Turkish authorities on the island.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the body that is tasked by this Congress on the state of religious freedom throughout the world in terms of advising us on that situation, reports that gross violations of religious freedom occur in the areas under the control of the Turkish occupation authorities. Turkey's foreign minister, the Honorable Ahmet Davutoglu, has proclaimed that Turkey's foreign policy is rooted in the doctrine of ``zero problems with its neighbors.'' Unfortunately, the fruits of this doctrine appear to be wholly absent in Turkish relations with the Republic of Cyprus .
Under the auspices of the United Nations, Turkey agreed as a confidence building measure in 1979 to withdraw and hand over the uninhabited city of Famagusta to its rightful inhabitants. Despite the annual calls of the United Nations for Turkey and the Turkish occupation authorities to honor this agreement, Famagusta remains a ghost town. The international community continually demands the withdrawal of the overwhelming Turkish military presence on Cyprus . However, the Turkish occupation authorities have not even considered a reduction of military troops.
As a candidate country seeking accession to the European Union, Turkey has been advised to open its air and sea ports to the Republic of Cyprus as a condition for the further negotiation of the accession chapters. Turkey nonetheless refuses to open its ports to Cypriot-flagged vessels. Cyprus will hold the presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2012. Rather than seize the opportunity to put its ``zero problems'' doctrine into effect, Foreign Minister Davutoglu just the other day threatened the European Union that Turkey will freeze relations with that body when the Republic of Cyprus holds its presidency.
Mr. Speaker, this is not the conduct of a country serious about joining the family of democratic nations. The United States, the European Union, and the United Nations all call for a just and lasting settlement that reunifies Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation. After 37 years of broken promises, it is high time that this Chamber demand that Turkey conduct itself in accordance with the standards and values expected of a democracy, a member of NATO, and a candidate country of the European Union.