November 23, 2017

Statement by the Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Constantine Moushoutas at the Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly – Bethlehem 2000

Mr. President,

The item Bethlehem 2000 was, according to resolution A/53/L.27, inscribed on the Agenda of the 54th Session so that we may be given the opportunity to reaffirm our support for the historic commemoration, immediately prior to the occasion.

We are now witnessing the fading away of the twentieth century and on the threshold of the Third Millennium. In welcoming this impending global celebration in Bethlehem of the birth of Jesus Christ and the start of a new set of a thousand years, we unavoidably reflect to the past and ponder towards the future.

We bring to mind the humble birth in Bethlehem of Jesus, identified with the weak, the rootless, and the persecuted, undertaking to liberate man from man and man from himself. His teachings of mercy, compassion and forgiveness are legacies for all mankind.

We think of our own unending struggle to secure peace and justice. To this end, we measure our limited successes and at the same time, we count our failures. They are too numerous to be overlooked. We wonder what the results might have been if we had followed the road of understanding and compassion. Bethlehem 2000 gives us the opportunity to ponder, to reassess.
Mr. President,

Bethlehem, Palestine, is geographically close to Cyprus; it is even closer spiritually and sentimentally. The millennium event is of paramount importance to us, as is for the whole of mankind. Situated as we are in the crossroads of the Mediterranean, we are directly affected by any developments in the region whether of peace or conflict. We welcome therefore the rejuvenation of the peace process. It is our earnest hope that it will produce final positive results, so that the peoples of the area may at last embark on a future of peace and reconstruction. Bethlehem 2000 can be an important contribution to that end. It can affect positively the peace process, especially now, when the winds of peace are sweeping again over the region, carrying the voices of reconciliation loud and clear. No effort should be spared in the pursuit of comprehensive, final and just solutions of the Middle East problems. Their successful conclusion, based on the relevant Security Council resolutions, will benefit the peoples of the region, including the people of Cyprus, who live with the vision of a free, united and peaceful island, without foreign troops and barbed wires, with its people integrated and cooperating as they have done for centuries before .

 

Mr. President,

We commend the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for its initiative to commemorate this event. We view it as a step of participation of the international community in the on-going peace process and a reflection of the world’s strong desire to bring the era of dialogue, tolerance and reconciliation so much to the people of Bethlehem, as to the entire Middle East.

Care must be taken for the organizational aspects of this historical and religious event. With two million tourists expected to visit the area, freedom of movement and unhindered safe access to the holy places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities, must be assured. The Holy Land must be just that, holy, a place of harmony, peace and hope. Success of the project will pave the way for establishing the Palestinian territories as a major tourist destination in the Middle East, well after the celebration of the year 2000.

In reiterating our full support for this historic event, we commend the Palestinian authorities for the important work they carry out with the assistance of the UNDP, UNESCO, the World Bank, and other UN organs in assuring the success of this global celebration. We commend also the International Donors whose contributions assure a successful outcome of this endeavour, so dear to the hearts of millions of people.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.