November 23, 2017

Time to End Turkey’s Illegal Occupation of Cyprus, New York, 17 July 2014

July 20th, 2014 marks the 40th year since Turkey, in flagrant violation of International Law, invaded and occupied one third of Cyprus, an independent, sovereign state, member of the UN. As a consequence, almost one third of Cyprus’ population became refugees in their own country and are still denied the right to return to their homes and properties and over 1600 Greek Cypriots went missing as a result of the invasion. A large number of them still remains unaccounted to this date. Unfortunately, for forty years Turkey refuses to co-operate effectively in investigating the fate of the missing persons. Ankara also continues to apply a policy of human rights denial towards the enclaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites who suffer daily threats and discrimination. In these four decades, thousands of settlers from Anatolia have been transferred by the occupying power in the occupied part of Cyprus in an effort to change its demographic character while the destruction of religious and rich cultural heritage is ongoing.

Forty years later, Cyprus and its people remain divided by the illegal use of military force and the Cyprus problem remains unresolved due to Turkey’s refusal to abide by the numerous UN Security Council resolutions, UN General Assembly resolutions and international judgments.

Recently, Turkey was ordered to pay Cyprus a record of 90 million Euros, on account of grave human rights violation, in the wake of its 1974 invasion and the island’s subsequent division. The European Court of Human Rights ruled the passage of time does not absolve Turkey’s responsibility, ordering that country to pay 30 million Euros to relatives of the missing. It also condemned Turkey to pay 60 million Euros to the enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents.

The Government of Cyprus, remains fully committed to the UN process to reach a viable and lasting solution that would reunify Cyprus transforming the Republic of Cyprus into a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the principles and values of the EU and in full respect of the human rights of all Cypriots. Recently, the Cyprus Government has tried to open new perspectives for a solution. In 2013, among other confidence – building measures (CBMs) President Anastasiades has put forth the “Famagusta Package”, a package welcomed by the United States who described it as “a package of bold and innovative confidence-building measures and other constructive proposals, which have the potential, when agreed and implemented by the parties, to dramatically enhance cooperation between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and restore faith in settlement efforts”. (The White House – Office of the Press Secretary, February 11, 2014).

The Turkish side has yet to respond positively to these initiatives.

President Anastasiades and the Government of Cyprus are fully committed to the process under the UN aegis for finding a just and functional solution to the Cyprus problem and will spare no effort to this end. We do hope that the efforts of the UN Secretary General, under his good offices mission, as well as of others, will pave the way for a final and lasting settlement in Cyprus, where all Cypriots, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots alike, will be able to leave peacefully together and to build a prosperous common future within the European family.