November 23, 2017

Statement by the Republic of Cyprus, exercising its Right of Reply, at the Third Committee of the 67th Session of the General Assembly, under Agenga Item 69(b) – Human Rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. New York, 8 November 2012

Delivered by Mr. Stelios Makriyiannis, First Secretary – Third Committee Delegate

Thank you Madame Chair

I take the floor to exercise my country’s Right of Reply to the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of Turkey.

Madame Chair

It is regrettable that,rather than acknowledging its responsibility in the continuing human rights violations in Cyprus, and engaging in a constructive manner towards ending them, Turkey has, once again, chosen to resort to false accusations and distortions of historical facts, in an attempt to divert attention from the essence of the issue at hand.

Out of respect for this Committee and its valuable time, I will refrain from responding one by one to the allegations of the representative of Turkey. The answers can be found in the numerous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions that condemn the 1974 Turkish invasion and continuing military occupation of Cyprus, as well as to countless decisions of other international bodies, such as the European Court of Human Rights and the European Parliament on the matter.

I will only stand on one issue, raised by the distinguished Turkish delegate; that is the myth of the so-called “isolation” of the Turkish Cypriots. This is, quite simply, a lie. In truth, Madame Chair, Turkish Cypriots, as full citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, enjoy the same rights, freedoms and privileges as all Cypriot and – by extension – European Union citizens.

95% of Turkish Cypriots, including those very same officials of the occupation regime who spread the myth of isolation, use Republic of Cyprus passports, to move, work, study and settle freely anywhere in Cyprus and the entire European Union. They also enjoy unimpeded travel and other privileges including worldwide consular and diplomatic assistance.

Just like any other citizen of the Republic of Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots can participate in regional and international sports, social, cultural and other events.

Thousands of Turkish Cypriots are employed in the government-controlled areas, including as civil servants of the Government of Cyprus, irrespective of their place of residence.

As a unilateral confidence building measure by the Cypriot Government, since 2003, Turkish Cypriots receive free medical care and social insurance in the government-controlled areas – a privilege not even extended to all Greek Cypriots.

Finally, in the last few years alone, the Turkish Cypriot community has benefitted from millions of euros in economic assistance, provided either directly by the Government of Cyprus, or through the relevant EU regulation earmarking €259 million exclusively for the economic development of that community.

Madame Chair

Actions speak louder than words. No matter how many times Turkey proclaims to want a solution to the Cyprus problem, it is her own troops that continue to occupy a significant part of a sovereign country, in flagrant violation of the core values of this very organisation. At the same time as Turkey spreads myths about a so-called “isolation” of Turkish Cypriots, the Turkish army denies hundreds of thousands of Greek Cypriots their basic human rights. If Turkey really longs for lasting peace in the region, then it should begin by respecting and applying all UN resolutions. If Ankara is honest in its intentions, then let it begin by recalling its troops from Cyprus and restoring the human rights of all Cypriots.

Thank you Madame Chair.