Address by the President of the Republic at the PSEKA event in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Cyprus
Distinguished Delegates, Dear Friends.
At the outset, I would like to sincerely thank the organisers of today’s event, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus.
And as we celebrate this anniversary, we honour and pay tribute to all those who fought and sacrificed their lives to end colonialism and establish the Republic of Cyprus.
At the same time, we also pay tribute to the law enforcement bodies and the volunteers who defended the existence of the Republic of Cyprus in 1963-1964, but also to all those who heroically sacrificed their lives or fought in defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic during the illegal Turkish military invasion of July 20, 1974.
Ever since, the people of Cyprus still suffer from the tragic effects of the invasion, amongst others:
-The military occupation of 37 per cent of our country;
-The forcible displacement of 40 per cent of its population;
-The usurpation of our properties;
-The destruction of our cultural heritage;
-The intentional alteration of the traditional demographic population composition of the island, through the illegal implantation of thousand of settlers;
-The islamisation of the occupied areas, and;
-The humanitarian issue of the unanswered fate of the missing people.
Unfortunately, ever since 1974, and despite the genuine efforts and constructive engagement of both mine and my predecessors in reaching a viable and functional settlement, Lefkosia – due to the intransigent stance by Turkey through its well-known notion “the winner takes it all” - remains the last divided European capital.
The last example was the 2017 Conference on Cyprus at Crans Montana during which there was an unsuccessful conclusion of the negotiations, attributable to Turkey’s insistence on maintaining the anachronistic Treaty of Guarantee and the right of intervention, as well as a permanent presence of troops. An approach which run contrary to our capacity as an EU Member-State and the explicit remarks of the UN Secretary – General of June 04, 2017 following his meeting with the leaders of the two communities, that, and I quote:
“Progress in the Chapter of Security and Guarantees is an essential element in reaching an overall agreement and in building trust between the two communities in relation to their future security”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year, finds our country in a particularly difficult situation, as we are undoubtedly going through one of the most critical periods of our 60 years of existence. And I am referring of course to the challenges that we are facing due to Turkey’s illegal drillings in our Exclusive Economic Zone and to threats for the imminent opening of the fenced city of Varosha under Turkish military control. That is why we are exhausting all means available through a diplomatic marathon of bilateral contacts, always in close consultation with our partners in the EU, Greece, the US and other friendly countries which share our position and have repeatedly condemned Turkey’s actions. And they have condemned Turkey’s behavior since it obviously runs contrary to international law, the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
To this end, the upcoming Council of the European Union of October 1st and 2nd is of vital importance in ensuring that the verbal assurances of support are finally matched by decisive actions vis-à-vis Turkey. It is our clear position that this is the only way for Turkey to refrain from continuing with its gun-boat diplomacy, threats and behavior of intimidation. This is evident by the example of the de-escalation in the Aegean.
In the case of Cyprus, unfortunately, so far the policy of rapprochement has fully failed taking also into account that a few days prior to the postponed European Council of 24 and 25 of September, Turkey renewed its two illegal NAVTEX within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic and continues with its drilling and seismic activities.
Only a determined and strong reaction can deter Turkey from pursuing its expansionist and revisionist policy. And we are all witnessing of what is now taking place as regards Nagorno – Karabakh and Turkish threats to, yet again, after Syria and Libya, military intervene.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Having said the above, I wish to reiterate our clear position for the immediate resumption of the peace process from the point it was left off. And it is for this exact reason that we warmly welcomed the intention of the UN Secretary – General to immediately resume talks after the completion of the internal political process within the Turkish Cypriot community.
However, as it is obvious from the above-mentioned and as I stated during my recent address at the UN General Assembly, and I quote: “…..it is imperative to create an environment that will be conducive for constructive and good faith negotiations, on an equal footing and not under conditions of intimidation and threats”.
At the same time, the recent statements of the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, following the above-mentioned intention of the UN Secretary – General, prove once more which is the end-goal of Turkey and why all negotiating processes have failed. An end-goal which is no other than to impose a two-state solution or a confederal system of governance.
Even within this negative environment of provocative actions and aspirations to reach a solution outside the UN established parameters, I wish to convey my firm commitment and determination to use all diplomatic means available and to exert every effort possible in order to reach a settlement, that:
-will fulfill the vision of our people to live in a European country, truly independent and sovereign; free form foreign troops and rights of intervention, ensuring conditions of stability for a safe, prosperous and peaceful future.
-A settlement which, in order to be lasting, should be viable and functional, taking into full account the sensitivities and concerns of both communities.
It would be amiss on my behalf if I did not extent my sincere gratitude and appreciation to PSEKA and the Cypriot diaspora residing in the United States. With your rich and multifaced action at the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of the States, you offer a significant advantage in strengthening the ever-growing relationship between Cyprus and the US, but in particular in advancing Cyprus’ positions and our aim of ending the unacceptable status quo.
We are truly proud and grateful for your dynamism, your patriotism, your genuine love for our homeland and the support to our traditions, culture and language. On behalf of the Government, but also of the people of Cyprus, we thank you once again for your tireless efforts in advancing our national interests and I wish to assure that the Republic will continue supporting you in all possible ways so that you can further advance our common objectives.
Before concluding, it would also be amiss if I did not extent my greetings to the distinguished speakers and audience from the United States. During these past years the relationship between Cyprus and the US has significantly strengthened both at the bilateral and multilateral level. This is a development we greatly cherish, since we worked hard to achieve it.
A testament of the above-mentioned, amongst others, are:
-The 2018 Statement of Intent on Security Issues with the aim addressing common challenges and problems, particularly in our immediate region;
-The involvement of American energy giants, namely ExxonMobil, Noble and now Chevron in our Exclusive Economic Zone;
-The decision to partially lift the US arms embargo, and;
-The signing, during the recent visit of the Secretary of State, of a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of a Cypriot Training Center.
And having referred to the visit of Mr. Pompeo and the constructive consultations we held, I believe that it sent, yet again, a clear political signal as regards the new levels of our relationship and our common bilateral and regional aspirations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another country with which our relationship or, better said, our partnership, has exponentially advanced these past years through our bilateral or trilateral and quadrilateral platforms of co-operation, with the involvement of the US, is none other than Israel. A partnership which we remain committed to continue widening and deepening in all aspects of co-operation, through, amongst others, bilateral agreements in various fields in which our countries possess competitive advantage and the ambitious projects of the EuroAsia interconnector and the EastMed pipeline.
And having spoken of multilateral platforms of co-operation which aim at establishing conditions of lasting peace and stability, it is with great pleasure that I welcome the efforts to gradually restore the relations of Israel with the Arab countries, as the recent agreements with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates demonstrate.
Distinguished Delegates, Dear Friends
In thanking you once again for today’s event in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus, I wish every success in the deliberations of the Conference. I do hope that next year we will be able to celebrate the liberation of our country from the Turkish military troops and the re-unification of our homeland through a settlement that will ensure the peaceful co-existence and a prosperous future for all the people of Cyprus.
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