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26-02-2024 20:15

Welcome speech by H.E. the President of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus, Ms Annita Demetriou Conference on “The Israel – Hamas War” organised by the Glafkos Clerides Institute and the Hanns Seidel Foundation

Monday, 26 February 2024

18:00 – 19:30

Dear Mr Mayer,

Dear Ms Svetlova,

Dear Prof Karagiannis,

Dear Harris,

Dear Dr Krug,

Honourable guests,

Dear friends,

We find ourselves, yet again, in challenging historical moments, in an era of conflicts and uncertainties. The terrorist attacks of Hamas against Israel last October set off a sequence of events that have led to the ignition of tension in the Middle East.

Having in mind the war of Russia against Ukraine that has been ongoing for two years now, this conflict adds one more layer of complexity to the volatility of the international geopolitical landscape.

Facts prove that nothing is for granted. Especially, if we talk about Peace, Stability, Independence, and territorial integrity. Therefore, the question that arises from the turbulent situation in our region is one: What do we do as politicians? As states? The answer is that firstly we need to protect our role. Above all, we need to protect human rights. Democracy. Our nations. And lead by example.  

But we must act beyond that. What we have to set as our priority, as an international community, is to seek solutions, to bring the respect for human dignity back to the forefront of our objectives. Our duty is to demonstrate determination in our efforts to reach settlements, even if the roots of a political problem seem to run deep. The ongoing war is a testament to the fact there are no frozen conflicts in our world today and that we cannot resign in favour of a status quo; The same applies to Cyprus.

In the case of the Middle East, as also in Cyprus, the framework of any solution has long been delineated by United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and it is only those that may form the compass for a solution.  Allow me to underline, here, our efforts for the Cyprus issue, always based on International Law. Our duty is to work for the resumption of negotiations and a solution of bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality. Every moment counts and there is no more time to waste.  We must strive for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, in line with the European values and principles and according to the pertinent Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The House of Representatives was the first Parliament to condemn the attacks of October 7th by virtue of a Resolution adopted on October 12th last year, whereby it expressed its solidarity to the people and the State of Israel, called for the release of all hostages and called upon the international community to resume the process for finding a solution based on United Nations Resolutions.

Cyprus has a principled stance on this matter from which it cannot deviate; it rejects the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza. The conditions are currently hardening, we unfortunately observe that there is food insecurity in Gaza and that vulnerable people, particularly children, are at risk. Protection of civilians, women, and girls, de-escalation, ceasefire, and the unhindered provision of humanitarian aid are thus necessary.

The goal, first and foremost, must be peace and security. A solution to the problem will also have a beneficial effect for the wider region and to global peace. One of the most alarming aspects of the ongoing crisis is the risk of its regionalisation at a time when we should be working in a spirit of conciliation and cooperation to prevent further tensions worldwide. The escalating violence severely undermines peace, having economic repercussions and increased immigration flows.

In this respect, Cyprus is strongly committed to play its full role as a pillar of security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East and as a bridge for dialogue and cooperation between Europe and the region. Cyprus’ initiative for a one-way maritime corridor to transfer humanitarian aid to the civilian population in Gaza is a clear example of this and has been welcomed by the UN and the EU alike. The European Union has a key role to play. Besides, the EU’s Treaties establish its commitment to promote peace, security, and progress in the world.

We must remain committed to the aim of reaching a peaceful, comprehensive, and lasting settlement, based on two-states, Israel and Palestine, coexisting side by side within internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and previous agreements.

Allow me to close by pointing that the subject matter of today’s Conference is far from theoretical or academic. It is real and politically charged. Therefore, such events may form the basis for fruitful discussions, the exchange of views and reflections that can possibly take us forward. I therefore urge you to approach the issue to be discussed today with an open mind and the genuine intention to advance towards a solution within the agreed framework. After all, political will is what it takes to take bold initiatives, with utmost sensitivity to the universality of human rights. Thank you very much.

(The text as sent by the House of Representatives)