September 19, 2018

Statement by Amb. Korneliou – Security Council – Maintenance of International Peace and Security

Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Comprehensive Review of the Situation in the Middle East and North Africa

United Nations, 25 June 2018

Mr President,

I wish to commend you for organizing this timely debate and to thank you for giving us the opportunity to participate.

Cyprus aligns itself with the Statement of the European Union and I wish to make the following remarks in my national capacity.

Mr. President,

As you rightly mention in the concept note, the Middle East is amongst the most afflicted regions in the world, with old and new persisting crises. Unfortunately, too often we have seen the law of the jungle prevail over the principles of international law.

The international community collectively must uphold its responsibility in reversing this course. How?  By simply adhering to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter which serve as the benchmark of what we accomplish in our efforts for upholding international law: this is the barometer of what we generally perceive as just and viable.  Allow me Mr. President to refer briefly to my own country, Cyprus, which is a test-case in that region. We have stated time and again, if the rules of international law had not been violated, the Cyprus problem would not have arisen. And if these rules are applied today, the problem would have been solved in the interest of all parties concerned. There is no other option, but to continue our efforts to reach a negotiated solution under UN auspices. In this context, we welcome the Secretary General’s intention to send a senior official to conduct in-depth consultations with a view to a meaningful resumption of the political process. Let me also echo the Secretary General’s call that also the Security Council will need to increase its support and encouragement.  We should not forget that the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintanance of international peace and security under the UN Charter. It should therefore be clear that anachronistic mechanisms of guarantees and the presence of foreign troops in a post-settlement Cyprus are inconsistent with our efforts to re-unite our country and become a normal state, as the Secretary-General eloquently put it.

Mr. President,

Cyprus straddles Europe and the Middle East and North Africa region, and has close historical and cultural ties with the countries therein.

It should be mentioned, that Cyprus together with Greece, have established trilateral partnerships with our neighboring countries – Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. This cooperation is founded upon our adherence to international law and a rules based international order – as the bedrocks for peace and prosperity for all countries and peoples in the region. We look forward to embracing our neighbours who support these principles.

In the same context, we have concluded agreements for the delimitation of our maritime zones with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon. This allowed us to develop a program of hydrocarbon exploration in our exclusive economic zone. Once again, the principles of the UN Charter and the international law show the way forward – and not unilateral actions that endanger international peace and security.

Mr. President,

We have followed closely the developments in Middle East and North Africa region – a region that was shaken by unprecedented unrest, turmoil and conflict. The tide of upheaval has, now, began to recede, but serious challenges remain notably in Yemen and Syria. The coming months will be defined by post-war transitions, peace talks, ballot boxes, and reconstruction. In any case, a military solution is not an option and adherence to international humanitarian law and the need to protect civilians are indispensable.

ISIL has been defeated, but it remains a threat. We have to strengthen our efforts for stability and reconciliation and not to allow ISIL or other radical groups once again to exploit political instability to gain strength.

A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue will have an undeniably positive ripple effect on other regional crises and in the battle to combat the threat of violent extremism and terrorism.  We maintain our principled position and support for a just and comprehensive settlement, based on a two-state solution, in accordance with the international law, the relevant UNSC resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Regarding Syria, we fully support the efforts of Staffan De Mistura, aimed at driving the political process forward. We remain committed to a unified, sovereign and independent Syria, without any foreign occupying forces. At the same time, it is of utmost importance to address the serious challenges faced by Syrian refugees and the neighboring countries hosting them.

We also deplore all efforts to eliminate ethnic, Christian and other religious minorities in the Middle East. Cyprus, with a long-standing history of peaceful coexistence of different religious groups, stands ready to contribute in the promotion of inter-faith dialogue.

Finally, we condemn the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq and across the region.  Cultural heritage originating from the cradle of our civilization should be protected, thus Cyprus is at the forefront of efforts to that effect.

I thank you Mr. President.