December 14, 2017

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Sotos Zackheos to the the United Nations General Assembly on the Report of the Secretary General on the work of the Organization

I would like to extend my warmest congratulations on your election as President of the 56th session of the General Assembly. I am certain that your long experience and proven diplomatic skills will successfully guide the work of this august body to a fruitful conclusion. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to your distinguished predecessor, H.E. Mr. Hari Holkeri for the determined and effective leadership with which he guided the work of the 55th session and his efforts to rationalize and improve the operation of the General Assembly.

On behalf of the Government and People of Cyprus, I reiterate our deep condolences, sorrow and sympathy to the American people for the tragic loss of innocent lives caused by the abhorrent terrorist acts of 11 September. We unreservedly condemn these barbaric acts, which we consider as attacks against humanity. Our sympathy also goes to the families of the nationals of the many countries who perished or are missing following this senseless crime. This assault may have been harsh and extremely painful but it has not broken our spirit nor weaken our determination to stand together in the struggle for the preservation of the fundamental principles of civilization.

I would like to join previous speakers in expressing appreciation to H.E. Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan for his lucid and thought-provoking report on the Work of the Organization. His recommendations, if implemented faithfully, would contribute greatly towards achieving the goals for which the United Nations was created. I furthermore would like to extend warm congratulations on his well-deserved re-election to the post of Secretary-General and pledge Cyprus’ support to his efforts and initiatives that have substantially elevated the prestige of our organization.

The Report enumerates the multitude of challenges facing the United Nations and, in extenso, the wider international community. The scope of these challenges clearly shows the increased role that the united Nations is called upon to undertake in a progressively more globalized world. It is ever more imperative that we, the member states, lend our full-fledged support to the United Nations that will successfully chart the new course in international relations at the dawn of this new century.

Mr. President,

I would like to refer to an item in the Report of the Secretary-General, related to the situation in Cyprus. In paragraph 39, the Secretary-General describes briefly his efforts at re-starting the talks, under his auspices, following the withdrawal, from the negotiations by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, with the full backing of the Turkish political and military leadership, in November of last year. The Secretary-General mentions his efforts at encouraging Mr. Denktash to return the negotiations and his meeting with him last month in Salzburg.

Following that meeting, the Special Adviser of the Secretary general on Cyprus, Mr. Alvaro de Soto, embarked on a mission in Cyprus, from 28 August to 5 September. 2001. On 5 September, he extended, on behalf of the Secretary-General, official invitations to President Clerides and Mr. Denktash to come to New York on 12 September 2001, to resume the negotiations. President Clerides immediately accepted the invitation and stated his readiness to come to New York . Mr. Denktash, however, in another outburst of his well-known intransigence, rejected the invitation, something that caused great disappointment and generated public statements of disapproval from many states, the European Union and from Turkish Cypriot political parties and Turkish personalities.

Ignoring the call by the United Nations that the time has come to engage in an “intense period of work” so that it would be possible to “report progress on issues of substance before the end of the year”, the Turkish Cypriot leader, with the support of Ankara, continues to this day to insist on placing preconditions before he returns to the negotiations, preconditions that are contrary to Security Council resolutions, in particular 541 (1983), 550 (1984) and 1250 (1999). Despite the fact that the Secretary General of the United Nations has publicly expressed the view that the ground for the resumption of the talks had long been prepared, Mr. Denktash this time, finds another way to procrastinate by attempting to exploit and deliberately misinterpret the statement of the Secretary General of 12 September of last year and calls for the creation of a “new partnership”. In essence, he has embarked on yet another attempt at presenting his proposal for a confederation of two equal sovereign states in Cyprus. The Turkish side tries to justify this unacceptable position, which is contrary to Security Council resolutions and the two High-Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979 that bear Mr. Denktash’s own signature, by the “need”, as the call it, to accept the so-called “realities” on the ground. These realities, as they say, is the separation of the two communities and the existence of religious and ethnic differences between them. The Turkish side deliberately, however, chooses to ignore that the separation of the two communities was a direct consequence of Turkey’s partitionist designs against Cyprus and her invasion and subsequent occupation of 37% of Cypriot territory.

As to their second argument, may I remind the Turkish side, that at a time when both Cyprus and Turkey are candidates for accession to the European Union, where emphasis is placed on tolerance and multiculturalism, the attempt to present differences in religion and ethnicity, as the raison d’etreof creating two different states in Cyprus, is at least suspect and grossly anachronistic.

As is well known, the international community has repeatedly rejected this policy. The plethora of resolutions of the United Nations provides ample proof of that. Acceptance of the so-called “realities” would create a very dangerous precedent in international affairs, striking at the very heart of the cherished principles of state sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law.

The reality of the situation in Cyprus, as has been repeatedly recognized by the international community is as follows:

 

  1. The presence of 36,000 Turkish occupation troops
  2. Massive human rights violations by Turkey and its subordinate local administration in the occupied area, as confirmed by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, in the Loizidou Vs Turkey case and the more recent decision on the Fourth State Recourse by Cyprus against Turkey.
  3. The repression of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots by a regime, which brands everyone objecting to its policies as a traitor and has already forced one third of the Turkish Cypriot Community into emigration.
  4. A deliberate policy to alter the demographic character of the island through the illegal implantation of 120,000 Turkish mainland settlers in the occupied area.
  5. Last but not least, the numerous lost opportunities for Cyprus and all its people, particularly the Turkish Cypriot , stemming from the forced division of the island.

Despite our disappointment at the lack of political will and the many obstacles to the road for peace placed by the Turkish side, the Government of Cyprus and President Clerides, will continue to display a constructive approach and the necessary political will for the solution of the Cyprus problem, a solution, which would usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and security for all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike.

Thank you, Mr. President.