I would like to extend my warmest congratulations on your well-deserved election as President of the 56th session of the General Assembly. I also extend my appreciation to your distinguished predecessor, H.E. Mr. Hari Holkeri, for his effective leadership during his Presidency.
The heinous terrorist acts of 11 September have undeniably transformed international relations. The United Nations is called upon to reinforce its primary role as the standard bearer of the principles that will shape this new environment and unite humanity in the pursuit of justice, tolerance, the dignity of human beings, respect of human rights and the promotion of peace and zero tolerance towards the dark forces of terrorism.
On behalf of the Government and people of Cyprus, I reiterate our deep condolences, and sympathy to the American people for the tragic loss of innocent lives caused by the abhorrent terrorist acts on 11 September. We unreservedly condemn these barbaric acts, which, we consider as attacks against the values and principles of humanity.
The community of nations must individually and collectively take concerted and resolute action against terrorism. We believe that there is no justification or excuse for terrorism and at the same time we reject any notion of linking this scourge with any particular religious faith or ethnic group. We renew our commitment to implement fully the United Nations Security Council resolutions in particular Resolution 1373. Cyprus is actively participating in the common effort. Cyprus has ratified or acceded to nine of the twelve international conventions pertaining to international terrorism. Furthermore, we expect an early ratification of the most recent Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which is already before the House of Representatives.
The Council of Ministers approved on September 20th a comprehensive proposal for the establishment of a task force under the Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus, to combat international terrorism, including illegal arms sales and brokerage and financing or sponsoring terrorism.
The United Nations continues to be faced with old and new tasks – globalization, good governance, the protection of the environment and the need for sustainable development. The elimination of poverty and pandemics, securing a world free from the threat of weapons of mass destruction, maintaining international peace and security remain high on the agenda. That is why we consider it imperative and a duty of each and every member to provide the necessary resources and support to our organization.
Cyprus strongly supports the implementation of the commitments we undertook last year in the Millennium Declaration. We also advocate the strengthening and rationalization of the United Nations System and welcome the commitment of H.E. the Secretary-General Kofi Annan to strive for a better and more just world. We congratulate him for the award of this year’s Nobel peace prize which is a well-deserved recognition of the central role of the United Nations and a tribute to its achievements, as well as, to his personal devotion and commitment.
At the beginning of this new millennium, we have a special obligation to place new emphasis on the promotion and protection of human rights and the defeat of terrorism. However the adoption of declarations and legal instruments in the area of human rights is not enough. We need to make accountable those violators of human rights and decisively strike at the culture of impunity, whether in international or domestic affairs. This is why Cyprus strongly supports the early entry into force of the International Criminal Court.
We are also deeply concerned with the increasing number and scope of humanitarian emergencies leading to an ever-rising number of refugees and internally displaced persons. The plight of these unfortunate people merits special attention and coordinated action.
The tragic events of 11 September have highlighted the need to continue and accelerate the efforts to prevent and solve regional conflicts. The inability of the international community to put an end to the unacceptable situation in the Middle East undermines the credibility of the system of collective security. Cyprus, as a neighbouring country with close relations to the peoples of the region, is particularly pained by the continuing cycle of violence, tragic loss of innocent human lives and the plight of the Palestinian population. We look forward to a region living in peace, stability and security for all States, including Israel. We reiterate our support for the fulfillment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the creation of their own state. We urge both parties to work immediately towards finding ways to put an end to this cycle of violence and to respect the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. We consider the implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell Report as an absolutely necessary first step towards this direction. Cyprus reiterates its long-held position for the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.
We follow the situation in the Balkans with particular interest. Cyprus supports the implementation of Security Council resolution 1244 on Kosovo. We hope that the forces of peace and reconciliation will prevail in FYROM and welcome the recent positive developments in the country. We support the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right of return and property of displaced persons and the principle of the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity.
The solution of the Cyprus problem is long overdue. I cannot conceal my deep disappointment, shared by the Security Council in its statement of 26 September, over the refusal of the Turkish side to continue with the proximity talks to help the efforts of the Secretary-General to find a comprehensive settlement. The refusal of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash with the support of Ankara to resume the talks, which he abandoned a year ago, despite the official invitation extended by the Secretary-General on 5 September, is particularly disturbing.
The Secretary-General is now trying to invigorate the process. Therefore, in order to facilitate the effort of the Secretary-General I will refrain from making remarks, that normally I would have made, other than to identify the reason for the failure to make progress which is the lack of political will by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash.
The Turkish side has abandoned the concept of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal Cyprus which has been provided as the basis of the solution by the Security Council Resolutions. The Turkish side is also calling the international community to accept the so-called “realities” which is the legalization of Turkey’s occupation of 37% of Cypriot territory, in breach of international law, the forceful expulsion of Greek Cypriot refugees from the occupied area and the subsequent importation of 120,000 settlers from mainland Turkey in an effort to change the demographic character of Cyprus. As is well known the international community through a plethora of resolutions of the United Nations has repeatedly rejected this policy. Acceptance of these so called “realities” would create a very dangerous precedent in international affairs, striking at the very heart of the cherished principles of state sovereignty and territorial integrity.
I would like to refer to the purely humanitarian problem of missing persons the solution of which remains one of the most pressing issues for the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and of all Cypriots. Unfortunately, I must once again report to you that the 31st July 1997 Agreement on the Missing between Mr. Rauf Denktash and myself providing for the exchange of information on the location of graves of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons has not been implemented because of the continuing negative stance of the Turkish side. We appeal again to the Government of Turkey to show the necessary political will in order to bring a final solution to this tragic humanitarian issue and abide by the 10th May 2001 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.
In the face of current difficulties, we do not despair. Our vision for Cyprus is a departure from the passions of the past. History is often described as the best teacher of wise men. We see as the future of our country, a reunited federal state, member of the European Union, with human and other rights of each and every citizen fully protected under the processes of democracy and rule of law, which we are proud to have achieved in the Republic of Cyprus. We see a state with a single citizenship, sovereignty and international personality. A demilitarised state enjoying the fruits of its labours in the wider European family, while at the same time playing its rightful role in our immediate region of the Eastern Mediterranean.
I recommend to the leadership of Turkey to abandon its threats for the annexation of the occupied part of Cyprus. I urge them to consider the obvious advantages of the solution of the Cyprus problem for the stability in our region, the consolidation of the Greco-Turkish rapprochement and the promotion of Turkey’s aspirations to join in the process of European integration.
I urge the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, to join me in sharing the vision of a Cyprus too small to be divided but huge for the common prosperity of all its inhabitants. I urge him to look to the future and not to the past, listen to the increasingly desperate voices of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots and stop placing obstacles, at each turn, to the good offices of the Secretary-General for a solution to the Cyprus problem. It is noteworthy that the economic prospects for a post-settlement Cyprus are truly impressive. And this growth will be even greater for our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, who are currently suffering due to the dire political and economic situation in the occupied areas. Tragically almost 50% have been forced to take the cruel road to emigration. The Turkish Cypriots will benefit considerably from the accession of our country to the European Union. I urge Mr. Denktash to realise that he and I are not getting any younger and that we owe it to the younger generations of Cypriots to do away with the walls of division.
For my part, I reiterate my readiness to engage in the process of negotiations with the necessary political will and good faith for finding a fair and viable settlement based on the United Nations resolutions, meeting the legitimate interests of all Cypriots.
Thank you, Mr. President.