Turkey must respect independence of Cyprus, General Assembly hears

24 September 2010
Demetris Christofias, President of Cyprus

The leader of Cyprus called on Turkey to respect its independence and to play a role in reuniting the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the Mediterranean island, as he addressed the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate today.

The leader of Cyprus called on Turkey to respect its independence and to play a role in reuniting the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the Mediterranean island, as he addressed the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate today.

“Our vision is a reunited Cyprus, common homeland of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, without any foreign troops or settlers and with the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its people, Greek or Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians or Latins, fully respected,” said President Demetris Christofias.

Turkey, he said, has made it known that it wants a solution to the problem by the end of the year, he said. “We are still waiting for their words to be transformed into action.”

Its army’s occupation of nearly 40 per cent of Cyprus’ territory has continued for decades, as does the violation of the rights of all Cypriot citizens, Mr. Christofias said.

“The people of Cyprus have suffered enough,” he stressed. “It is time to overcome the problems, to achieve reconciliation between the two communities and to reunite our country and our people for the sake of peace and of the future generations.”

United Nations-led reunification talks began in 2008 after the then-leaders of the two communities committed themselves to working towards a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.

Despite difficulties, some progress – although not as much as had been anticipated – has been made the talks, the Cypriot President said today.

He said that he has submitted proposals in a bid to push the process forward, but they have been rejected by the new Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and Turkey’s leadership.

One of them concerns Famagusta, a city that was home to both Greek and Turkish Cypriots until 1974, when Greek Cypriots fled as the Turkish army advanced. The section of Varosha has remained a ghost town since then.

In 1984, the Security Council demanded the town be returned to the UN for it to be inhabited by its legal residents.

“My proposal, if accepted, would have benefits for all sides,” Mr. Christofias said, since it includes restoring the mediaeval part of the city where Turkish Cypriots live and opening the port to external trade, which could help Turkish accession negotiations with the European Union.

“From this podium, I repeat my call to the Turkish leadership to meet me, parallel to the negotiation process, so that I can share with them my vision for a solution of the Cyprus problem which would serve the interests of the Cypriots, of Turkey, of Greece, as well as of peace and security in the region.”

Speaking at the debate yesterday, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said that reaching a “just and lasting settlement” in Cyprus could help propel stability in the greater region.

“Any positive outcome emerging from these negotiations would rapidly transform the Eastern Mediterranean into a pillar of peace, stability, cooperation and welfare within the European Union,” he said.

The Turkish Cypriot side, he said, has demonstrated that it is in favour of a settlement, “but they continue to suffer unjustly” from the lack of an agreement.

 

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