I would like to begin by extending to you my warmest congratulations on your election as President of the General Assembly. We are certain that your long experience, outstanding ability and diplomatic skill will guide us successfully in our work at this fifty-first session of the General Assembly.
Allow me also to thank your distinguished predecessor, Dr. Diogo Freitas do Amaral, for his untiring efforts during the previous session.
During last year’s session, which marked the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations, we reflected on the birth of the United Nations, assessed its development and influence on international relations to date, paid tribute to its achievements, and identified some of its difficulties.
At the same time we acknowledged that our main responsibility for the future of the Organization is to ensure that it has the ability to address most effectively the agenda of the 21st century.
In the Declaration on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations we agreed that “in order to be able to respond effectively to the challenges of the future and the expectations of the United Nations held by peoples around the world, it is essential that the United Nations itself be reformed and modernized”.
Now, as we begin the 51st session of the General Assembly we should take stock of what we have been able to accomplish and redirect our efforts to what remains to be achieved.
During 1996 we continued our work towards the institutional and financial reforms needed to make the United Nations a more productive and dynamic institution, so that it will be better able to perform its key functions and fulfil its mandates more effectively. In this regard, a fundamental priority must be to ensure that the financing of our Organization is placed on a firm and lasting basis.
May I recall in this context, Mr. President, that the government of the Republic of Cyprus is voluntarily contributing one third of the total cost of UNFICYP and in addition has increased by one third its contribution to United Nations Peace-Keeping Operations in general.
During 1996 various High-Level Working Groups of the General Assembly have continued their efforts on the institutional and financial reforms of the United Nations. I would like to reiterate that we consider the work of these working groups, covering a very broad spectrum of issues as extremely important. Such issues ranging from the strengthening of the main United Nations Organs, to the further development of An Agenda for Peace and An Agenda for Development deserve deep and profound priority consideration.
We subscribe to the need for reforming the Security Council, expanding it and strengthening its capacity to discharge the duties assigned to it by the Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.
As for the reform of its working methods, we recognize that although significant efforts have been made over the last two years to ensure greater transparency and broader consultations with non-members, more remains to be done. A good precedent has been established with the holding of briefings and regular consultations, including those with troop-contributing countries to United Nations Peace-Keeping Operations.
The reports of the working groups of the General Assembly and the proposals from member-states that we have before us, provide a good basis for further work. We all understand and accept the need to reform and revitalize our organization. Our responsibility then is quite clear: Let us make even more vigorous efforts and display the courage and political will required, to reach a successful conclusion on these issues by the fifty-second session of the General Assembly.
This year’s International Conferences, HABITAT II, the World Food Summit and UNCTAD, have marked the completion of a comprehensive series of United Nations sponsored Conferences and their impact on those areas of the world where the lack of economic and social development often contributes to conflict.
In this respect we welcome next year’s General Assembly special session which will be devoted to the assessment and review of Agenda 21 and the results of the Rio Conference. It will be a unique opportunity to take stock of what we have done so far to implement the recommendations agreed upon in this all important Conference.
An area of particular concern in today’s world is the persistent violation of human rights. The human rights agenda has, for many years, been dominated by efforts to establish international standards. Our duty must be to implement these standards unequivocally and take a firm stand against all forms of human rights violations in all cases.
The full implementation of the commitments entered into, will encourage those around the world who believe in the promise of the United Nations to help restore and keep the peace; to promote respect for human rights; to expand and broaden social progress and to help those in urgent need. My country is fully committed to the universal application and promotion of these principles.
Another area of particular concern to member-states is arms control and disarmament. Under the auspices of the United Nations, the nuclear non-proliferation regime has been further strengthened with the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
We warmly welcome the adoption of the General Assembly of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty. This represents the international community’s determination to bring to completion one of the most sought-after nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament measures in the history of the United Nations. But the treaty is not the end of the process. There is need for further systematic and progressive effort in order to achieve our ultimate goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons and of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Another important development in the field of disarmament and arms control, is progress achieved towards the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Cyprus is in the final stages of ratifying this Convention. It is our hope that the Convention will soon enter into force.
While recognizing that much more needs to be done in the realm of conventional weapons, we are encouraged by the progress made during the review of the Conventional Weapons Treaty and the agreement on Guidelines on the International Transfer of arms at this year’s United Nations Disarmament Commission’s session.
We fully share the view espoused by many that arms control and disarmament, are and will continue to be an essential component of international security, contributing to confidence-building and conflict resolution.
It is in this spirit that we proposed, as part of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, the complete demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus, in which we have offered to disband the National Guard of Cyprus and hand over all weapons to an International Force, in exchange for the complete withdrawal of all foreign troops, as demanded by the relevant United Nations resolutions.
This august body is familiar with the Secretary-General’s report which characterizes the northern part of Cyprus as one of the most densely militarized areas in the world. The presence of 35.000 Turkish troops and hundreds of tanks and other armaments, constitute a clear and present danger to peace and security in Cyprus and in the region.
Recent events in Cyprus have highlighted this clear danger as well as the urgent need to implement our demilitarization proposal.
The brutal killings of two Greek-Cypriot unarmed demonstrators witnessed on television screens by the entire-world, and the wounding of many others, including two United Nations peace-keepers, by the Turkish occupation troops and Turkish extremists imported from mainland Turkey to the occupied part of the island, marked this year’s anniversary of 22 years of invasion and occupation of substantial territory of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish forces.
Two United Nations reports on these tragic incidents state clearly that the responsibility lies with Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot illegal regime, through the use of excessive and unwarranted force against unarmed demonstrators who were simply trying to remind the world that for 22 years Cyprus remains a divided country, whose people are still prevented by the Turkish occupation forces from returning to their homes and lands and from moving freely in their country.
Furthermore, it has by now become abundantly clear that the Turkish action was orchestrated well in advance, and involved the import from Turkey of 3.000 terrorists belonging to the “Organizaton Gray Wolves” with the purpose of bloody confrontation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
The sinister plan aimed at demonstrating that the two communities cannot live peacefully together in Cyprus and therefore separatist and partitionist solutions should be sought.
While we mourn and condemn the brutal murder of the two unarmed Greek Cypriot protesters, we also feel sorry for a subsequent killing of a Turkish soldier and the wounding of another. We regret the haste with which the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash attempted to attribute responsibility for this killing to the Greek Cypriot side before an independent United Nations investigation published its findings.
The recent tragic events, however, will not waver us from our commitment to seek a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem through negotiations, as provided by the United Nations resolutions.
These events only stress the need for expediting and increasing efforts to find a just, lasting and workable solution to the Cyprus problem.
We are encouraged by the rekindled interest and more active engagement of the international community in the Cyprus problem, as witnessed by the appointments of Special Representatives from interested countries, including the appointment of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Professor Han Sung-Joo. We welcome all initiatives set out to reinforce the United Nations in the search for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.
Various United Nations resolutions and the United Nations Secretary-General, himself, have declared the present status-quo in Cyprus as unaccetable, a view shared by the international community.
The time has come to make a further determined and sustained effort to solve the Cyprus problem. To that end the Government of the Republic of Cyprus will be working earnestly and with imagination with the United Nations Special Representative and with all others supporting his efforts to prepare the ground for negotiations on the main outstanding issues.
Any settlement of the Cyprus problem should be based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty, an international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded and comprising of two politically equal communities, as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bicommunal and bizonal federation, and that such settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession.
The security of both communities is a crucial issue which would help the finding of a solution and it will be necessary to devise effective guarantees, demilitarisation and an international force to be stationed in Cyprus. Demilitarisation represents an important contribution to this settlement.
We are prepared to embark on face to face negotiations in 1997 once the ground has been sufficiently prepared to ensure success. We are not, however, willing, after 22 years of negotiations which have not yielded any result on the main issues of the problem, to embark on another round of fruitless talks, which on the one hand destroy the credibility of the negotiating process, while on the other keep the attention of the international community focused on the intercommunal constitutional aspect of the problem, thus overshadowing the real issue which is the invasion and continued occupation for 22 years of substantial territory of the Republic of Cyprus by the Turkish forces.
We, on our part, will continue to do everything in our power to help the Secretary-General of our organization to succeed in his renewed efforts through his newly appointed Special Representative in the search for a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem.
At the same time the Government of the Republic of Cyprus will pursue its application for membership in the European Union, because such membership will have benefits for both communities. While we hope to keep accession negotiations to the time table already foreseen, we earnestly desire to reach a solution of our problem before accession.
At the beginning of my statement I spoke of the need to reform and strengthen our Organization. From this podium I have repeatedly underlined the importance of honouring the commitments we enter into and of implementing the decisions we take. I have stressed how essential it is to uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter and to hold to full account those who violate them.
The question of Cyprus, Mr. President, continues to be such a case of accountability, due to the refusal of Turkey to implement solemn Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, calling among other things for the respect of the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Cyprus, for the withdrawal of all foreign troops, for the return of the refugees to their homes and lands, for the respect of the demographic composition of the Republic and the restoration of the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Cyprus.
As a matter of fact all these resolutions not only were not implemented by Turkey, but also were violated by her.
Even the immense humanitarian problem of the missing persons remains unresolved and the tragedy of their relatives is perpetuated.
All efforts should therefore by exerted by the Security Council and by all those in a position to do so, to bring about a real change to Turkey’s attitude.
The 50th Anniversary of the United Nations has highlighted the need for maintaining and reinforcing our faith and that of future generations in our Organization. Implementation of United Nations decisions will go a long way towards achieving this lofty goal.
Thank you Mr. President