July 23, 2014

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Time to End Turkey’s Illegal Occupation of Cyprus, New York, 17 July 2014

July 20th, 2014 marks the 40th year since Turkey, in flagrant violation of International Law, invaded and occupied one third of Cyprus, an independent, sovereign state, member of the UN. As a consequence, almost one third of Cyprus’ population became refugees in their own country and are still denied the right to return to their homes and properties and over 1600 Greek Cypriots went missing as a result of the invasion. A large number of them still remains unaccounted to this date. Unfortunately, for forty years Turkey refuses to co-operate effectively in investigating the fate of the missing persons. Ankara also continues to apply a policy of human rights denial towards the enclaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites who suffer daily threats and discrimination. In these four decades, thousands of settlers from Anatolia have been transferred by the occupying power in the occupied part of Cyprus in an effort to change its demographic character while the destruction of religious and rich cultural heritage is ongoing.

Forty years later, Cyprus and its people remain divided by the illegal use of military force and the Cyprus problem remains unresolved due to Turkey’s refusal to abide by the numerous UN Security Council resolutions, UN General Assembly resolutions and international judgments.

Recently, Turkey was ordered to pay Cyprus a record of 90 million Euros, on account of grave human rights violation, in the wake of its 1974 invasion and the island’s subsequent division. The European Court of Human Rights ruled the passage of time does not absolve Turkey’s responsibility, ordering that country to pay 30 million Euros to relatives of the missing. It also condemned Turkey to pay 60 million Euros to the enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents.

The Government of Cyprus, remains fully committed to the UN process to reach a viable and lasting solution that would reunify Cyprus transforming the Republic of Cyprus into a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the principles and values of the EU and in full respect of the human rights of all Cypriots. Recently, the Cyprus Government has tried to open new perspectives for a solution. In 2013, among other confidence – building measures (CBMs) President Anastasiades has put forth the “Famagusta Package”, a package welcomed by the United States who described it as “a package of bold and innovative confidence-building measures and other constructive proposals, which have the potential, when agreed and implemented by the parties, to dramatically enhance cooperation between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and restore faith in settlement efforts”. (The White House – Office of the Press Secretary, February 11, 2014).

The Turkish side has yet to respond positively to these initiatives.

President Anastasiades and the Government of Cyprus are fully committed to the process under the UN aegis for finding a just and functional solution to the Cyprus problem and will spare no effort to this end. We do hope that the efforts of the UN Secretary General, under his good offices mission, as well as of others, will pave the way for a final and lasting settlement in Cyprus, where all Cypriots, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots alike, will be able to leave peacefully together and to build a prosperous common future within the European family.

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Article by the Foreign Minister, Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides, New York, 17 July 2014

International Criminal Justice Day: Why Cyprus is joining the celebrations

17 July 1998 saw the adoption of the “Rome Statute”, the treaty on the basis of which the International Criminal Court (ICC) came into existence.

International Criminal Justice Day: Why Cyprus is joining the celebrations

17 July 1998 saw the adoption of the “Rome Statute”, the treaty on the basis of which the International Criminal Court (ICC) came into existence. To mark this milestone as well as the significant gains that have been achieved more broadly in international criminal justice, 17 July has been established as “International Criminal Justice Day.”

Cyprus and I personally proudly join the commemoration of this occasion and the international campaign to underline that “Justice Matters”. Some brief information on the work of the ICC and the ideals it represents should suffice to understand why we have deemed it important to do so.

The ICC is today the only permanent, international criminal court with the competence to prosecute the perpetrators of the gravest of crimes namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Moreover, provided a sufficient number of Member States ratify the relevant amendment to the Rome Statute, the Court will acquire jurisdiction also over the Crime of Aggression. These are all crimes which deeply offend the conscience of humanity.

The roots of the Court can be traced back to at least the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War II which were followed, more recently, by the ad hoc and hybrid international tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. The creation of the ICC was thought by many to be a mission impossible. Yet for the last twelve years it has been tangibly contributing to the advancement of international justice.

As of today, the ICC has 122 Member States whilst more States have expressed their intention to join. Twenty-one cases in eight countries have been brought before the ICC which has rendered its first verdicts. Additionally, a number of other preliminary examinations are being carried out. The Court is also giving a voice to the victims of crimes by providing for their participation in its proceedings.

As is the case with any young institution in pursuit of ambitious goals, the Court has not been without its challenges. And new ones will no doubt arise. A number of challenges have been overcome thanks to the determination and spirit of cooperation that have prevailed amongst all stakeholders in this project. I am convinced that these same qualities shall guide us in addressing existing and future challenges. Our decisions – and this goes especially for us Member States – need to continue promoting the independence, credibility and efficiency of the Court.

Cyprus has been a committed supporter of the Court from its very beginning, a commitment which I reiterate today. I can attribute this to at least three main factors. Firstly, we consider it a moral obligation to promote the accountability for atrocities irrespective of where these are committed. Secondly, we are steadfast supporters of the strengthening of international law as a means to a more just and peaceful international order. And thirdly, the fact that our country itself continues to experience the effects of injustice committed for forty years, renders the mission of the Court even more salient for us.

It is indicative that Cyprus, a Member of the ICC as early as 2002, has been one of the first countries to ratify the amendments to the Rome Statute adopted in Kampala in 2010, including the amendment concerning the Crime of Aggression. Our country has also enjoyed the privilege of contributing one of its best-known judges, Judge Georghios Pikis, who served on the Court between 2003 and 2009. Currently Cyprus is actively engaged in, among other things, the promotion of the universalization and full implementation of the Rome Statute, elements which are vital for the achievement of the Court’s mission. It is our hope that in the time to come more States will be joining us in this collective endeavour.

On International Criminal Justice Day we rightly celebrate the important advances that have been achieved in international criminal justice. But even more work lies ahead. Current events compel us to reiterate our enduring concern at the horrendous crimes still being committed in many parts of the world.

These painfully remind us that justice does matter and that it matters a great deal. This is why I have deemed it important for our country and I to join the commemoration of International Criminal Justice Day.

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Intervention by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN Ambassador Dr. Nicholas Emiliou in the Security Council Open Debate on UN Peacekeeping Operations: New Trends, New York, 11 June 2014 [Read more]_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Statement by Ms. Melivia Demetriou at the twenty-fourth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, New York, 13 June, 2014  [Read more]________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Statement by Ms. Maria Ioannou at the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, New York, 10 June, 2014 [....read more]_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Internship opportunities at the Permanent Mission of Cyprus to the UN, New York  [Read more...]