PRESS AND INFORMATION OFFICE
Opening remarks by the President of the Republic of Cyprus during the Conference on Cyprus, in Geneva, yesterday
Your Excellency, Mr. Secretary General,
May I start Your Excellency by conveying, once more, my warmest congratulations on your election as UN Secretary-General and my Government’s sincere willingness to offer any assistance in the exercise of Your high duties and the promotion of our universal common values.
You have assumed office at a demanding time of increasing challenges and threats posed by ongoing conflicts and asymmetric threats which have led to unprecedented levels of human suffering.
Considering your political past, actions and ethos, I have no doubt that You will exert every effort possible in order not only to tackle these challenges but fully eradicate them, with the noble aim – which I fully share -, as you have stated to the General Assembly on taking the oath of office:
«We want the world our children inherit to be defined by the values enshrined in the UN Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity».
It is towards achieving this joint goal that my dear friend Mustafa and I during these past 20 months have been engaging in intensive negotiations in order to reach a comprehensive, viable and lasting settlement that will end the long-standing unacceptable status quo and reunify our homeland.
A settlement that will meet and satisfy the genuine desire of our people, especially of the younger generations, to live together and peacefully co-exist, collaborate and prosper in a European country which fully respects their fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Your Excellencies, Dear Friends,
I have to admit that this new negotiating effort has produced positive results and noteworthy progress has been achieved on a number of substantial issues related to the Chapters of Governance and Power-Sharing, Economy, European Union and Property.
At the same time, it should not be ignored that still on a number of significant aspects of the above-mentioned Chapters divergences remain. Divergences which I however believe are feasible for both sides to overcome.
Undoubtedly, notwithstanding the importance of the said Chapters and the need to establish a functional federation, the two remaining Chapters of Territorial adjustments and Security and Guarantees are the most sensitive, core and fundamental ones which will weigh significantly as to whether a solution is attainable.
To this end and as regards the Chapter of Territorial adjustments, yesterday’s simultaneous submission by both sides of maps which reflected their respective positions was a historic development.
Of course, this in no way implies that the Greek Cypriot side either remains satisfied or considers that the proposal put forward by our Turkish Cypriot compatriots corresponds to the aspirations of the Greek Cypriot community to achieving just and fair territorial adjustments.
Nonetheless, it should be acknowledged that the aforesaid constituted a first positive step which has the prospect to lead to a comprehensive agreement on one of the thorniest issues of the Cyprus problem.
However, at such historical moments we all need to be honest and forthright: The outcome of the said Conference on Cyprus which will exclusively concentrate on the issue of Security and Guarantees will decisively pave the way to reaching a solution on the Cyprus Problem.
At this point, Your Excellency, in order to facilitate your understanding in respect of where we stand today, please allow me to inform of some key components of the Cyprus problem, which if they are to be duly taken into account both by the guarantor powers and the international community at large; will resolutely enhance the prospect of achieving a settlement.
The source of many of the problems that we still face today has been the Treaty of Guarantee, signed on the one hand by the Republic of Cyprus and on the other hand by Turkey, Greece and Britain, as guarantor powers.
Regrettably, as the historic events validate, the Treaty has failed to serve its purpose or positively contribute to the smooth functioning of the Republic.
After the tragic events of 1974 and the continuing division of the island, the leaders of the two communities in 1977 agreed to the evolution of the internal structure of the Republic of Cyprus into a bi-communal, bi-zonal Federation, with political equality of the two communities.
And as a leader of the Greek Cypriot community, I am obliged to emphasize that the said development constituted an historic compromise by the Greek Cypriot side with the aim of achieving the reunification of the island.
Since then there has been a series of negotiating rounds and efforts to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem, which unfortunately didn’t bear any result, culminating to the referendum of the Annan Plan in 2004.
A Plan which was rejected by 76% of the Greek Cypriots due to provisions that were included therein and which did not address their legitimate concerns; the most significant of which being the continuation of the presence of foreign troops on the island and the maintenance of the right of intervention by the guarantor powers if, in their judgment, that was deemed necessary.
Having said the above, I am of the strong opinion that the constitutional provisions of the settlement which already have been agreed, effectively strengthen the sense of security of all citizens and constitute the best guarantee for the creation of conditions of peace, stability and prosperity.
Among other convergences, the following are leading towards this end:
i. Union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession or any other unilateral change to the state of affairs shall be prohibited.
ii. The two constituent states shall hold equal political status and will have defined administrative boundaries which they will autonomously govern.
iii. Effective participation in the Federal Government by the two communities, with specific clauses as regards decision-making so that neither side may claim authority or jurisdiction over the other.
iv. Prohibition of encroachment both by the federal government within the constituent states’ areas of competence and by either constituent state to the other constituent state’s area of competence.
v. Each constituent state shall have the right to establish specific criteria as regards the acquisition of its internal citizenship status.
vi. Regulating the exercise of voting rights of those citizens of the State who choose a place of domicile or establish themselves and practice a trade or profession in the constituent state of which they do not hold internal citizenship status.
vii. Establishing effective deadlock-resolving mechanisms in order to both strengthen the functionality of the State and protect the rights of the constituent states and, by extension, of the communities.
viii. Furthermore, the Republic of Cyprus is and will remain a member-state of the EU after the settlement, a capacity which as I will later on explain provides the necessary safeguards both from internal and external threats and the full and unrestricted enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Cypriots.
Thus, it could be argued that the above-mentioned on its own merits render the necessity of maintaining a system of guarantee established in 1960 as obsolete.
Conversely, I do not ignore that both due to events of the past and the ongoing protraction of the Cyprus problem there is an inherent mistrust and suspicion on the one hand by the Greek Cypriot side as regards the end-intentions of Turkey and on the other hand by the Turkish Cypriot side as regards the objectives and aims of the Greek Cypriot community.
It is for this exact reason that in my proposal on Security and Guarantees on the post-settlement era, I acknowledged that for a transitional period to be agreed, a Multinational Police Force should be established with the aim of deterring or addressing any threats to the safety of either Greek or Turkish Cypriots.
In this context, it is also our strong belief that beyond the internal security structure and mechanisms of united Cyprus as thoroughly analysed in my proposal, there should be a strong UN Council resolution which will ensure and safeguard the smooth and secure implementation of the provisions of the settlement, as well as the post-settlement state of affairs and the sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order of United Cyprus.
Taking into account the historic developments of the past and the status quo established, any post-settlement presence of foreign troops or rights of guarantees and interventions would be perceived by the Greek Cypriot community as an unbalanced arrangement.
Furthermore, such security arrangements would establish a sense of predominance for one community to the detriment of being perceived as a threat to the other community. As a consequence, political equality would be overturned; with deadlocks and destabilization prevailing over consensus-building and a functional federal government.
In addition to the internal arrangements of the settlement agreement and my proposal which already demonstrates that the necessity of any guarantees or foreign troops is unnecessary, allow me as a leader of the Greek Cypriot community and the President of an EU and UN member-state to project that the capacity of United Cyprus as a member of the United Nations and the European Union provides the best form of security and guarantee of its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity from any external threats.
Starting from the United Nations, its Charter, through its various provisions, guarantees the territorial integrity and political independence of its members and prescribes the means of resolution of disputes or conflicts among its member-states and the necessary adoption of action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
As regards the European Union of which I have no doubt that Mr. Jean Claude-Juncker will thoroughly refer to later on, leaving aside the fact that our membership constitutes the best safeguard that all citizens of United Cyprus will fully enjoy the fundamental human rights and freedoms of our European family, it provides the following to its members:
● Article 42 (7): If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article51 of the United Nations Charter;
● Article 222 (1): The Union and its Member States shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack…….. The Union shall mobilise all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States, to:
– prevent the terrorist threat in the territory of the Member States;
– protect democratic institutions and the civilian population from any terrorist attack;
– assist a Member State in its territory, at the request of its political authorities, in the event of a terrorist attack.
Before proceeding further, please allow me to warmly welcome and thank Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker for his presence with us today, which once more demonstrates his active and strong support to the efforts of reunifying our country.
In addition to what I have already mentioned, it should be stressed that my proposal provides the establishment of a trilateral Pack of Friendship between Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. A Pact which can form the basis of the solid foundations for the future relationship of the three countries; to the benefit of its peoples.
In parallel, it is to the best interest of Cyprus, which enjoys excellent relations with all our neighbors, to extent its partnerships in our immediate region through forging an alliance with Turkey; a neighbor with whom we share common concerns and challenges.
It is for these exact reasons that I have so often stressed the obvious positive repercussions at a trilateral, regional, European and international level of reaching a settlement, since I am adamant that this should be our shared strategic objective and vision that should guide our interventions and negotiations to follow today and the days or weeks to come.
Achieving a lasting and viable settlement will promote regional peace, security, predictability and turn united Cyprus to an exemplary model of a prosperous, just and peaceful society in our troubled common neighborhood; the eastern Mediterranean.
Further, it will create a new era of friendship; with positive ramifications on EU-Turkey’s relations and the overall security and energy architecture of the EU.
Foremost, it would be to the benefit of all Cypriots, creating conditions of peaceful co-existence and prosperous collaboration, irrespective of their different ethnic, cultural and religious diversity; to the benefit of the future generations.
Last, but not least, the solution of an international problem which has been on the agenda of the United Nations in the last decades, will offer a beacon of hope that even the most intractable problems can be solved peacefully through the United Nations.
I believe that our presence here confirms our political commitment to engage constructively and in a spirit of good – will during the next few hours so as to reach an agreement, or at least bridge differences, on the Chapter of Security and Guarantees, so as to pave the way forward to reaching a comprehensive solution on the Cyprus Problem.
A solution, which, as I have repeatedly stressed, should take into account the legitimate sensitivities and concerns of both communities, leading to a win-win situation, and ensuring conditions of safety for the future generations of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
I truly believe that we can achieve this, provided that all interested parties and particularly those which can decisively determine the end-result demonstrate the same degree of commitment, participate constructively.
In times of increasing internal and external challenges for the international community and the European Union, I do call on your substantial support and help so as to turn Cyprus into a political and diplomatic success story, conveying the message both internationally, in Europe and our immediate neighborhood as to the dynamic potential of our collective solidarity and adherence to the Universal values and principles enshrined in the UN Charter.