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Greek-Americans March to Protest U.S. Aid to Turks

July 20, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — More than 3,000 Greek-Americans marched near the White House and State Department on Sunday, protesting U.S. aid to Turkey on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus.

About 80 demonstrators had walked to Washington from New York, a march that took 11 days, to draw attention to the plight of an estimated 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees driven from northern Cyprus during the 1974 Turkish invasion.

"We believe that some people in America don't know about our problems," said Antonis Serdaris, 22, who completed the walk.

Cyprus Is 80% Greek

The population of Cyprus is about 80% Greek and 20% Turkish, but Turkey controls nearly 40% of the northern portion of the Mediterranean island, located 40 miles south of Turkey.

"We ask that there be no aid to Turkey and no support for the Turkish invasion," Serdaris said.

Opponents of the July 20, 1974, invasion gathered on the Ellipse, the oval-shaped park behind the White House, and later marched on the State Department, chanting: "Turkish troops out of Cyprus."

$300 Million in Aid

Organizers, including the Cyprus Federation of America and the Federation of Hellenic America Societies of Greater New York, charge that more than $300 million in U.S. assistance has been used by Turkey in the last three years to continue its occupation in Cyprus.

Serdaris, now a college student in New York whose family fled their northern Cyprus village of Morphou in 1974, said he believes that American pressure can induce Turkey to withdraw from the island.

"If the Americans want to change the situation, they can do it," he said. "I believe the solution will come from the United States."

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