WASHINGTON, D.C. – On November 29, 2023, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger passed away at age 100, ending a long and controversial career in U.S. foreign policy. As the United States and the rest of the world reflects on his legacy, Kissinger’s failure in U.S.-Cypriot relations must be remembered for all the hardship and suffering it caused, the effects of which continue to be felt to this day.
From his involvement in carpet-bombing Cambodia to his repeated support for coups and dictators, Kissinger had an extensive history of foreign policy decisions that faced criticism for being both unethical and ineffective at securing the long-term interests of the United States. Many of these decisions have also been criticized for being anti-democratic and damaging to the rules-based international order.
One such policy was to support Turkey’s invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, in which Turkey violated international law and forcibly displaced thousands of rightful owners from their property. This created an international crisis that still has yet to be resolved, as Turkey continues to unlawfully occupy over one-third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
When faced with the choice of deciding whether or not the U.S. should allow the invasion to occur, Kissinger argued that “The Turkish tactics are right—grab what they want and then negotiate on the basis of possession” because “There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one-third of Cyprus.”
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center and think tank that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.