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20-07-2019 20:15

Speech by the Foreign Minister, on behalf of the President of the Republic, at the event to mark the anniversary of the military coup and the Turkish invasion

On this day, forty-five summers ago, Turkey invaded Cyprus, leaving a mark on the history of the country, and its people.

Ever since then, every July will carry with it the unpleasant sound of the sirens of the betrayal of July 15 and of the Turkish invasion of July 20, 1974.

On July 15, 1974, junta-controlled forces within the National Guard, the body that was supposed to protect the Constitution, the territory and the democracy, opened fire at the Presidential Palace, seeking to assassinate the President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios, himself, thus opening the back door to Attila.

Forty-five years. Many. Too many. An entire generation, the generation of the children of war, was born and raised as refugees, in conditions of army occupation, in the brutal reality of a divided Cyprus. The older ones, they have passed away with their country unjustified.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With feelings of awe and a deep sense of responsibility, we stand before history; before the people who have passed away unjustified, without returning to their homes; before the refugees who still persevere;

Before those who are in search of relatives; before heroes who gave their life; children who lost their father.

We stand in awe before the people who still bear on their bodies the injuries from the battles of war; the relatives of the heroes and missing persons, who honor us tonight with their presence, from Cyprus and Greece, as well as all those who were at the forefront of defending the Republic and confronting the Turkish invader. I address special thanks to you for your presence here tonight.

We are still standing today in awe before our history and the wounds of 1974 that unfortunately remain open. Because for 45 years, Cyprus and its people are experiencing the tragic consequences of the Turkish invasion every day. They are experiencing:

The unjust loss of hundreds of people and the violent uprooting of tens of thousands of families.

The continued illegal military occupation of more than one-third of the Republic of Cyprus.

The violation of fundamental freedoms and fundamental rights of all refugees.

Illegal Turkish colonization.

The missing persons, the fate of whom has not yet been clarified.

The enclaved, who remained, despite the adversity, in their homes, reminding us every day of the identity of our country.

The destruction of our cultural and religious heritage.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we count forty-five tragic summers. But we also count forty-five years in which the Cypriot people have not compromised, not given up, NOT FORGOTTEN.

The tragic consequences of the Turkish invasion and occupation do not constitute repetitive anniversary rhetoric, but tangible evidence of Turkey's grave responsibilities, both vis-à-vis Cyprus and the international community.

At the same time, it is these consequences that constantly remind us of our debt, of what we have not achieved so far, despite the efforts, what has not happened and must happen.

This: freedom, the long-cherished solution, reunification, peace, security, prosperity, for which we must ALL continue our efforts TOGETHER.

In the forty-five years of occupation, by a powerful Turkey, Cyprus has managed to defend the Republic of Cyprus, by whatever available means, and to persuade the International Community for its cause. That is why the Turkish invasion and occupation was universally condemned and the validity of the only legitimate government of the Republic of Cyprus and its sovereignty over its entire territory was reaffirmed.

The European Union accepted in 2004 the Republic of Cyprus with its entire territory, with the implementation of the acquis being temporarily suspended in areas where the legitimate government does not exercise effective control.

The Republic of Cyprus has moved forward, made efforts, acquired new supplies, got back on its feet, with great labor, with perseverance, with the stubbornness of its people, inside and outside Cyprus.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Cyprus Problem, however, has not been solved. Forty-five summers afterwards, it is all of our duty to make sure that no one FORGOT, as well as that no one stopped the efforts for reunification.

We do not accept the faits accomplis of the Turkish invasion, we do not compromise with the occupation, we learn from our mistakes.

Despite the continuous provocations of Ankara, with dedication and determination, and using every means at our disposal, we make sincere and intensive efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue, aiming at a solution that will be functional and viable.

A bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, in line with the relevant UN decisions, EU principles and values and the acquis communautaire.

A solution that will truly reunite Cyprus, will restore it as a modern, functional and efficient European state with a single sovereignty, a single international identity and a single citizenship.

A reunited Cyprus with a role and a say within and outside the European Union, that can be prosperous for its citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

We are not struggling in order to "win" but to reunite and justify all, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

Our sincere will is to put an end to the current unacceptable conditions of destabilization and threats and to resume talks from where they left off in Crans-Montana without any waste of time, aiming at a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem that will ensure peace and security for all Cypriots; a functional and independent state.

In this EU Member State, there is no room for guarantees or for foreign armies. There is only room for the implementation of human rights, international law and the principles and values of the EU for all citizens, to which the reunited state will continue to belong.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year's tragic anniversary events take place at yet another difficult time for our country. At a time when Turkey is escalating its delinquent behavior by conducting drilling activities to find hydrocarbons within the territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf of Cyprus and continuing seismic surveys within the EEZ / Continental Shelf of Cyprus.

It is obvious that Turkey is blatantly violating international law and its actions constitute a serious violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, a UN member and a European Union Member State, as well as of its sovereign rights to explore and exploit its natural resources.

The new violations are supposedly carried out in order to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. This position contradicts the convergences that have so far been achieved in the negotiations for the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, on the basis of which the rights of the whole Cypriot people are fully safeguarded.

I would like to point out that, according to the convergences, the federal Cyprus, after the solution, will continue to be a contracting party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea and all issues concerning maritime areas will be regulated under that Convention.

The territorial waters, the continental shelf, the contiguous zone and the Exclusive Economic Zone, as well as the demarcation and the settlement of disputes concerning these sea areas with the neighboring states, fall within the competence of the federal government.

These convergences, as well as those in other related issues, that have been achieved in the negotiations are an integrated framework in which all issues relating to hydrocarbons have already been agreed.

The Turkish side has never questioned the above convergences, and it is for this reason that it has never raised the issue of hydrocarbons in the framework of the intensive consultations from 2015 to July 2017 in Crans-Montana.

To this end, and in addition to what I have already mentioned, I remind you that the Republic of Cyprus, having as its purpose the safeguarding of the rights of the Cypriot people as a whole, proceeded to the legislative establishment of the National Investment Fund, based on the Norwegian model, to manage future revenues from the exploitation of hydrocarbons; a legislation that ensures that revenue, if and when it arises, will be saved for the benefit of future generations of Cyprus.

At the same time, and in contrast to the convergence achieved by which, after the solution, the federal Cyprus will continue to be a party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which I have already referred, Turkey's claims restrict Cyprus’ EEZ by 44%, and this at the expense of the rights and interests of the Cypriot people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

I would also like to remind you of the invitation extended by the Republic of Cyprus to Turkey to negotiate the delimitation of the maritime zones between them, on the basis of international law, which the European Union reiterated and welcomed in the Conclusions of the Council of Foreign Ministers dated 15 July 2019, where, as a measure to react to Turkey's unlawful acts, collective measures were decided together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The priority here is to create the right conditions for resuming meaningful talks that will lead to the solution of the Cyprus problem.

The President of the Republic has publicly stated his readiness to meet with the Turkish Cypriot leader (a meeting scheduled to take place before mid-August), either tête-à-tête or in the presence of Ms. Lute, in order to discuss the conditions of convening an informal conference, of procedural nature, with the same format as the one held in Crans-Montana, in the hope that such an informal meeting, properly prepared, will lead to the resumption of meaningful talks.

Resumption of talks which will of course mean that Turkey will also actively contribute to the creation of an appropriate environment, ending its unlawful actions within the territorial sea and the EEZ / Continental Shelf of Cyprus, as well as any plans to create new faits accomplis.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our vision is to re-establish the whole of Cyprus, from Paphos to Apostolos Andreas, from Famagusta to Kyrenia, as a place of peace, prosperity, stability and security that will offer protection and equal prospects of prosperity to all its legitimate inhabitants making it a reliable partner for Europe in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Our duty and purpose is to reunite our country; because non-solution is not a solution; because we cannot compromise with division; because we know that the people of Cyprus are not favored by the passage of time and stagnation; because on our agenda is but the termination of the occupation and the reunification of our homeland.

The achievement of a viable and functional solution, without guarantees or foreign occupation armies will be a success for all of us. It will be mainly the key ingredient for a healthy and promising future for our children in a modern European country.

Let us all together, G/C and T/C, join each other on the road of reunification without looking for winners and losers. We owe it to those who were sacrificed. Above all, we owe it to the next generations; to our children. For Cyprus and its people.

Thank you.

(EH/II)