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17 June, 2024
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President Anastasiades addresses the 76th UN General Assembly

He called on the UN to 'transform'

Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides

The President of the Republic, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, today addressed members of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

It was the 9th consecutive year he attended.

Mr. Anastasiades began his address by expressing his sense of disappointment over the lack of implementation of UN resolutions and the “widening gap between words and deeds”.

Decisions and resolutions which...have led to the audacity of the invader who tries to be portrayed as a victim, instead of the perpetrator it actually is.

He emphasized the need for transformation and expressed his desire to turn the UN into a much more effective organization.

“In order to achieve this objective, there is only one answer: Multilateralism, tangible solidarity and stronger partnerships, based on a positive agenda,” he said

Further into his speech, the President criticized the actions of Turkey in its role in the negotiations for a Cyprus solution. He referred to numerous UN decisions and resolutions that were ignored by Turkey and its president, Mr. Erdogan.

“Decisions and resolutions which - in the absence of resolve and the necessary means for the implementation thereof - have led to the audacity of the invader who tries to be portrayed as a victim, instead of the perpetrator it actually is,” he said.

He also claimed that Turkey’s goal was to push for a 2 state solution, and would not agree to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality. At the same time, he assured the assembly of his determination to “set the negotiations back on track”.

He referred to the issue of climate change, specifically affecting the Eastern Mediterranean, and declared that Cyprus was ready to develop a regional plan to counter the effects of climate change in the area.

The President concluded by noting the importance of Cyprus in the region. “In this regard, Cyprus, as a strong proponent of the ideal that the Eastern Mediterranean and the greater Middle East can become an area of stability, peace and cooperation, strives to actively promote an enhanced network of regional cooperation.”

Read the President's speech in its entirety below:

First of all, I would like to congratulate the President-elect of the 76th General Assembly, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, and the Secretary-General, António Guterres, on his recent re-election for a second five-year term, and to reaffirm my full support for the Government. in his mission.

This is the ninth consecutive year that I have attended the consultations of the United Nations General Assembly.
Consultations that each year focus on important issues concerning developments and challenges that are vital to humanity, with the aim, through collective action, of addressing them effectively.
Taking stock of our statements and decisions over time, I must admit that I feel - like many of you - a deep sense of frustration.

A sense of frustration, because I see a widening gap between words and deeds, between the auspicious statements and commitments made and the results of the measures we promise to carry out.

In all honesty, how many times have we talked about the need to address regional disputes, citing the United Nations Charter, as well as the decisions and Resolutions of the General Assembly or the Security Council?

To what extent does the weakness or inadequate implementation of our decisions perpetuate conflicts and encourage violations, which in turn multiplies humanitarian crises?

How often have we talked about the urgent need to address major global challenges, such as poverty, hunger, child mortality, social and economic exclusion, lack of adequate health care, lack of educational opportunities?

How committed are we to implementing what we agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change?

I could expand on many other problems, which could be solved if the United Nations implemented its decisions.

That is why our collective and common failure to tackle the challenges I have mentioned has frustrated many people around the world, whose fundamental human rights and dignity are not adequately protected.

At the same time, it has also led to worrying developments, such as religious fundamentalism, violent extremism, sectarianism, the destruction of cultural heritage, civil war and ethnic conflicts.

What is equally worrying is that the combination of the above has led to the forced displacement of millions of people and created unprecedented waves of refugees and migration flows, which are exerting enormous economic and social pressures on all countries and regions affected.

Unfortunately - and we must be honest with ourselves - selfish interests stand in the way of the founding principles of the United Nations, to which humanity has pinned its hopes for a prosperous and peaceful future.

To achieve this goal, there is only one answer:

Multilateralism, tangible solidarity and stronger partnerships, based on a positive agenda.

That is why we give our full support to the Secretary-General's priorities for reform and renewal, which aim to enhance the effectiveness of the Agency and to further promote the maintenance and building of peace, humanitarian aid and long-term and development.

What I have just said is by no means aimed at underestimating the many achievements of the United Nations work.

My remarks and comments are intended to emphasize the need for change, through reform, of an Organization that will give real hope to those in need of international protection in the pursuit of collective security, peace and development.

In other words, to make the United Nations a much more efficient Organization.
My strong and sincere words are conscious.

I stand here in front of you, representing a country which, unfortunately, still endures the consequences of the blatant violation of the fundamental principles of the United Nations, as a result of the illegal military invasion by Turkey in 1974 and the ongoing occupation.

Since then, both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council have issued numerous resolutions calling on Turkey to end its illegal occupation and withdraw its occupying forces, while laying the groundwork for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem. . 

Decisions and resolutions that - in the absence of determination and the necessary means to implement them - have led to the intimidation of the attacker who tries to present himself as the victim, instead of the perpetrator.

It is not my intention to engage in a game of blaming, but I can not ignore the absurdity of Turkish rhetoric, which lies in their claim that compromise efforts have been exhausted and we must now focus on reaching a settlement based on in the so-called "realities on the ground".

Let me remind you what the real realities on earth are:

  1. Is it not a fact that 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, an EU Member State, remains under Turkish military occupation, with more than forty thousand troops still on its territory?
  2. Is it not a fact that after the Turkish invasion of 1974, one third of the Greek Cypriots were forced to leave their ancestral homes?
  3. Is it not a fact that, while the Turkish Cypriots owned about 14% of the privately owned land, today they are usurping 37% of the island?
  4. Is it not a fact that churches were looted, archeological sites destroyed and thousands of years of cultural heritage?
  5. Is it not a fact that they have killed thousands of people and committed all kinds of atrocities and that even today almost a thousand people are still missing?
  6. Is it not a fact that they have settled hundreds of thousands of Turkish nationals in the occupied territories, thus altering the demographic character of the island - turning the Turkish Cypriots into a minority in the occupied territories?
  7. Is it not a fact that they never implemented the 1975 agreement on the status of the trapped, then over 23 thousand, while today they number only 350?
  8. Is it not a fact that all the above crimes have been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe in a number of decisions, with Turkey not complying with even one decision?
  9. Is it not a fact that Turkey has created an illegal entity in the occupied territories, which is under its absolute political, economic, social, cultural and religious control?
    An audit that is also denounced by the majority of Turkish Cypriots?
    An illegal entity described by the European Court of Human Rights as a "subordinate local government" of Turkey?
  10. Is it not a fact that Turkey is trying to equate the State, the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus - a member of the United Nations and the European Union - with the illegal separatist entity?
  11. Is it not a fact that the above declaration of self-proclaimed secession was condemned by the Security Council and found to be legally invalid?
  12. And is it not a fact that the Security Council called for its withdrawal and called on all States and the international community as a whole not to accept it or to assist it in any way?
  13. Is it not also the case that with the recent presence of President Erdogan in Cyprus they are trying to alter the situation in the besieged city of Famagusta, in violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions and despite condemnation by the international community?
    Speaking at the General Assembly on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said:

"We hope that the problems related to the demarcation of maritime borders will be resolved within the framework of international law and good neighborly relations." 

I wonder what international law Mr Erdogan is referring to.

Is it not a fact that Turkey refuses to comply with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which codifies customary international law?

How does Mr. Erdogan understand the resolution of disputes over demarcations?

Does it refer to the arbitrary interpretation of international law by Turkey itself, which reduces the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus by 44 percent, to the detriment of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots?

President Erdogan also spoke about the need to maintain good neighborly relations.

And I wonder, once again:

Which country had invaded and still occupies Cyprus?
Which country invaded Syria?

Which country is violating Iraq's sovereignty?

Which country is interfering in Libya's internal affairs?

Which country violates the sovereign rights of Greece?

Which country intervened in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

The narrative also presented by the Turkish side, according to which all attempts to reach a compromise solution have failed and we should seek solutions outside the UN framework, reinforces the well-founded arguments that Turkey's ultimate goal is not to solve the Cyprus problem. problem, but to turn Cyprus into its protectorate.

And I will analyze it.

In his report of 28 September 2017, on the outcome of the Cyprus Conference in Crans Montana, paragraph 27, the Secretary-General of the United Nations rightly estimated that all the internal elements contained in the six-point resolved or were to be resolved soon. 

Thus, while the Secretary-General's goal of a strategic agreement was imminent, the reason for the unsuccessful outcome was Turkey's inelastic stance and its insistence on maintaining the anachronistic Guarantee Treaty, the right of intervention and the permanent presence of troops.

In addition, following the Crans Montana Conference, in line with our commitment to the resumption of the peace process, the two leaders - myself and the Turkish Cypriot leader - and the Secretary-General of the United Nations issued a joint statement on 25 November 2019 on the principles should govern the start of a new round of negotiations, namely:

- The 2014 joint statement,
- The convergences achieved so far, and,
- The six-point framework presented by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Crans Montana.

Based on the above, one would expect that the next step would be the resumption of negotiations.

Nevertheless, with the Turkish goals being different, we have seen blatant interventions by Turkey to oust the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, with whom the above joint statement was achieved.

The obvious goal was to be replaced by a new leadership that reproduces and adopts Turkey's position to change the agreed basis for settlement, with the ultimate goal of a two-state solution.

It is therefore clear why no compromise can be reached when one side deviates from the UN framework or cancels the agreements reached and aspires to a different form of solution, contrary to the agreed basis and mandate of its good services. General Secretary.

Part of the Turkish agenda is the creation of new executions on the ground in Famagusta, in violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular Resolutions 550 and 789. 

All of these actions clearly aim to destroy the prospects for a solution based on the agreed United Nations framework.

Compromise becomes even more difficult when new ideas submitted by us, as requested by the Secretary-General in an effort to advance the process, are categorically rejected.

I have proposed decentralization of the exercise of powers, which we consider to be the right balance between strengthening the essential role of the constituent states and the smooth functioning of the state at international level.

I also noted our willingness to consider choosing a parliamentary system with a ceremonial head of state and a rotating prime minister.

More recently, I have also called on the Turkish Cypriots to rejoin the state institutions established by the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, resulting in the full implementation, in proportion, of the relevant provisions.

It goes without saying that such an invitation is not intended as an alternative to the agreed solution basis.

Its purpose is to facilitate the Turkish Cypriot community to rejoin the State pending a final solution, provided that a strategic agreement is reached, so that it can fully participate in the development of the Republic of Cyprus into a Federal State.

This proposal should be evaluated in the light of the package of confidence-building measures that I proposed last December, which would lead to a change in the situation with winners on both sides and which, unfortunately, were rejected by the Turkish side. These confidence-building measures are still on the table.

I would like to assure you of my determination to restart the negotiation process, based on the United Nations framework and the agreement reached in Berlin on 25 November 2019.

For us, there is only one Plan: 

Achieve a solution based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in accordance with the principles on which the EU is based.

A solution that will lead to a functioning and sustainable state, without the outdated Guarantee System, the right to intervene, the presence of Turkish troops, or any kind of foreign dependence.

A solution that will benefit all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, with full respect for human rights, contributing to peace and stability in the region.

My extensive reference to the Cyprus problem, dear friends, aims to highlight the need to address the reality and the issues before us, on the basis of the values ​​and principles of international law, and not on the basis of the law arbitrarily interpreted by them. strong.

The theme chosen for this year's General Assembly: "Building resilience through hope - for recovery from COVID-19, restoring sustainability, meeting the needs of the planet, respecting human rights and reviving the United Nations" - is, of course, very topical and related to the important challenges we have to face.

As our actions are interconnected and have an impact on each other, we, all the nations of the world, have made a collective commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in order to meet the universal challenges I have already mentioned, for the benefit of humanity.

At the same time, we must all realize that we are at a crucial juncture in climate change.
Taking into account the worrying forecasts regarding the impact of climate change in our immediate region, ie in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider Middle East, Cyprus has taken on a coordinating role for the development of a Regional Action Plan, which consists of two distinct components: and therefore an intergovernmental one.

It would be wrong not to mention the recent developments in Afghanistan.

We share a collective responsibility to uphold international humanitarian law, especially with regard to the protection of women and minorities.

We must also ensure that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorism and extremism, nor a breeding ground for organized crime, drug and arms smuggling and new waves of illegal immigration.

Another region that is also considered synonymous with strife and conflict is the Middle East and North Africa.
In this context, Cyprus, as a strong supporter of the ideal that the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider Middle East can be an area of ​​stability, peace and cooperation, seeks to actively promote a strengthened network of regional cooperation.

In conclusion, let me emphasize that in a fragmented and multipolar world, we have more than ever the moral, ethical and political duty to promote the essence of human civilization, to join forces to maintain international peace and security, and to create conditions that they can bring prosperity to all.

Thank you very much for your attention.


Cyprus  |  UN  |  speech  |  ANastasiades

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