May 9, 2021

Statement by H.E. Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos President of the Republic of Cyprus at the 60th Session of the UN General Assembly

Mr. President,

Before proceeding with my remarks, permit me to begin by indicating that my delegation fully subscribes to the statement delivered by the Presidency of the European Union. At the outset, Mr. President, let me express my sincere congratulations on your election as President of the sixtieth session of the United Nations General Assembly as well as my sincere gratitude towards Mr. Jean Ping, President of the 59 th session of the General Assembly, for his tireless efforts during a very crucial year for the United Nations.

Mr. President,

With the end of the High-Level Summit, we have entered a far more crucial phase – that of the follow-up and implementation of its outcome and the furtherance of the progress achieved, especially in terms of those targets which have been subject to an enforcement roadmap since the Millennium Summit. The realisation of the content of our Declaration in conjunction with reforming the United Nations may very well judge this Organisation’s relevance and standing in the decades to come and with that the fate of our attempts to render effective multilateralism the cornerstone of international order.

Beyond the wide spectrum of issues covered in the Summit’s Outcome Document, we must not lose sight of those realities to which the United Nations must – and is expected to – remain primarily focused on. For these we must go back to the genesis of the Organisation. In the wake of the Second World War, a vision emerged to establish a system of collective security and institutionalise mechanisms that would ensure the maximisation of conflict prevention and the minimisation of the duration and impact of a conflict. During the course of the United Nations’ 60 year history, we have come to realise both that these objectives have not been entirely fulfilled and that security is not a monolithic and uni-dimensional concept. Its multifaceted nature implies that it cannot be dealt with in isolation – rather, a comprehensive approach is required for peace and security to universally prevail. Furthermore, the interdependent nature of its numerous components leaves no option but a coordinated and simultaneous response.

The new century not only has inherited many of the challenges and problems of the previous one but new scourges have emerged which jeopardise the existence and the legitimacy of our system of collective security. These require the urgent response of the international community through an action- oriented strategy comprising the appropriate institutional framework, appropriate decision making mechanisms, and the efficient implementation of our commitments.

Fulfilling our pledges in a timely manner is not a responsibility applicable only to traditional security threats. Terrorism, transnational crime, and many other security deficits require our full attention in the form of elaborating result-oriented action plans. Regarding, for instance, weapons of mass destruction, although we are aware of the inextricable link between disarmament and non-proliferation, we have not yet been able to strike the kind of balance that will allow us to pursue them equally and simultaneously. And while we have identified underdevelopment and poverty as key enemies of stability, this realisation is not yet adequately reflected in our actions. Moreover, even though we have codified the entire spectrum of human rights, those mechanisms that would enable the implementation of the relevant instruments and the unmitigated protection of human rights remain insufficient.

The assessment of the current state of the world, through the comprehensive Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organisation, which we have before us, leads to the conclusion that long-standing conflicts – with all their ramifications – remain a primary source of concern for the international community. Their capacity to influence entire regions as well as the wider stability and security is testament to the necessity of containing the outburst of even seemingly superficial unrest. Without attempting to define a causative link between security and prosperity, our experience has amply shown that where there is security, there is potential.

Africa is a prime example of this. Today more then ever – and rightly so – it remains at the core of our mobilisation. Our endeavour to make a difference there in terms of conflict resolution, peace-keeping, peace building, poverty, underdevelopment and deadly diseases will be the litmus test of the effectiveness of our commitment to meet the Millennium Goals.

The Middle East is another test case. In recent weeks, it has proven that reciprocal gestures do have the capacity to construct common ground, even where that does not seem on the surface to exist. Israel ‘s withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank is an important development that should lead to the implementation of the Quartet Roadmap. Israel ‘s paradigm to remove settlers is one to be followed by other occupying powers using settlers as a means of warfare. Even though the security situation is still fragile and even though the political negotiation might not always be moving forward, the parties are offered a closed course, in the form of the Roadmap, which has the potential to steadily lead to progress. Furthermore we firmly believe that the gathering momentum would be aided by strict adherence to international law and international humanitarian law, including the opinion of the International Court of Justice on the construction of the barrier.

Mr. President,

Let me now turn to the Cyprus problem. Almost 18 months have elapsed since the April 2004 referenda on the Annan Plan. During this time period we have not remained idle. Our priority has been to revisit the recent history of the problem in view of our discomfort with a number of developments. As a result, we have contemplated the content, product and shortcomings of the last negotiation process, which led to the referenda. Simultaneously, emphasis was placed on rectifying certain misconceptions that were solidified during the last negotiation process. A further priority for us has been the determination of the form of the framework in which we would continue to seek a settlement.

Not only do we insist that this framework remain under the umbrella of the United Nations but we consider that the mission of good offices has entered a new phase with the end of the referenda. The role of the United Nations in administering and steering the negotiation process remains central and crucial not least because there is no alternative to the mission of Good Offices entrusted to the Secretary-General by the Security Council. Regardless of its level of activation at different times, we consider this mission to be an essential and ongoing process which must be maintained until the Cyprus problem is resolved. Through this mission, we expect the Organisation to broker a negotiated and agreed settlement by codifying a procedure with the analogous capacity.

Our approach to the good offices mission is dictated by our cognizance that only the arrival at a settlement will bring us to the end of the road. We thus remain committed to holding negotiations and to working for the creation of those conditions that will render fruitful negotiations feasible. In this context, we have been implementing substantial practical measures on the ground with the aim of building confidence, promoting the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot Community, improving the living conditions and the civil, political and social rights enjoyed by Turkish Cypriots, and laying the ground for interaction and co-operation between the Communities.

We hope that an enhanced co-operation between the two Communities will be conductive to achieving progress on different aspects of the Cyprus problem and especially the elements composing its humanitarian dimension such as the fate of the missing persons. At the same time, for progress to be realised on the ground, all secessionist attempts on Cyprus must be terminated immediately and a single vision based on the unification of the island must prevail.

Mr. President,

The aftermath of the referenda has left things in a state of numbness and people with a feeling of bitterness and scepticism with regard to the whole process of negotiation. The divisive character of the Annan Plan, which essentially led to its rejection, epitomised the decline of this process and its endistancement from the fundamentals of the problem, giving rise to a pessimistic outlook on the prospects of an attempt to succeed. Another source of pessimism is the apparent willingness of actors involved in the process to concede a disproportionately large amount of politically driven demands at the expense of those principles that should govern the solution. It should be clarified that a settlement should be formulated on the basis of the concerns and expectations of the people of Cyprus and not aim at accommodating the interests of foreign powers on the island.

The Cyprus problem has reached a critical juncture. Time may not be working favourably towards reaching a settlement, but we must keep in mind that we cannot afford any more failed attempts. We should be particularly cautious but resolute. The timetable for seeking a solution should genuinely and exclusively be determined by the parameters of the Cyprus problem and as such, there should be no deadlines embedded in the process that are dictated by exogenous elements.

Revival of the talks requires thorough preparation and an honest assessment that the prospect of success is exceptionally high. This in turn, requires a confirmation that the Turkish stance has changed markedly since last year and that there is now a willingness on its behalf to reconsider its positions. We have always hoped that Turkey ‘s accession course to the European Union would radically shift its mentality – a prospect that would mark the single biggest development on the Cyprus problem in decades.

For this to become feasible, any interconnection between the process to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and any other development should be a priori eliminated. The fulfilment of Turkey ‘s obligations emanating from its accession course to the European Union will ipso jure rid the Cyprus problem of some of its most intractable components and facilitate a settlement. Simultaneously, the existence of the UN negotiating framework cannot serve as a pretext for postponing or refusing to fulfil these obligations.

On our part, we remain committed to a bizonal, bicommunal federal Cyprus in line with what we consider to be the pillars of the survival of this model of settlement: the High level agreements, United Nations Resolutions, International Law and the acquis communaitaire. We anticipate that these will safeguard the right of all Cypriots to preserve their fundamental interests while simultaneously taking into account their most basic concerns.

Mr. President,

Aside from procedure, the time has come to go back to basics and to realise that as long as the basic aspects of the problem are not truly tackled, there can be no real prospect for progress. Without tackling the core components of the problem by putting an end to the military occupation, the massive violations of human rights, the plight of the refugees, and the policy of the occupying power to deliberately transport settlers to the occupied part of the island, there can be no solution. Unfortunately however, we have not been moving closer to this imperative. Instead, we have been witnessing for well over a year, a tendency to entrench the fait accomplis on Cyprus through the illegal exploitation of Greek-Cypriot owned property in its occupied part.

In establishing the new constitutional and institutional setup, we should avoid the establishment of a settlement in the form of an artificial structure that will require an abnormally long transitional period to be absorbed by the people and the institutions, at a great socioeconomic cost. We visualise that seeking a settlement will increasingly centre around and fall under the establishment of a functional, working democracy that does not require exceptionally taxing efforts for basic governance. We also visualise that, with Cyprus ‘ membership to the European Union taking solid roots, a settlement would encompass an integration of the currently occupied area to the characteristics of a European society and the standards of the acquis communautaire in full harmony and osmosis with the rest of the island .


Thank you, Mr. President.


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