The UN, unfortunately, adopts an equal-distance stance, even when faced with the violation of decisions, resolutions and defined scope and terms of reference specified to the Secretariat said Friday Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades. He also referred to recent statements by Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan which he described as provocative.
Speaking before the 77TH session of the UN General Assembly the President said that this results in emboldening offending states, which not only disregard international law but also create new precedents outside the framework of legality.
In his speech, the last before the UNGA as his presidential tenure comes to an end in a few months, the President of Cyprus referred to the main reasons for the lack of effectiveness and also the weakness of the UN to live up to the expectations of billions of people.
“I know that what I am saying may be outside the bounds of diplomatic etiquette, but I do believe that the obligation of each leader before history is not to overlook failings and shortcomings in favour of wishful thinking or flattery," he noted.
That is why, he added, "I will proceed with a review, not just of the reasons which have transformed the Organisation into a repository of problems, but also to what states are required to do in order to provide credibility to the Organisation, as well as the ability to effectively impose international legal order or to consistently implement decisions and programmes for the benefit of humanity.”
According to President Anastasiades, the weaknesses and inefficacies of the UN are due to the fact that international law is preceded by financial or other interests of powerful member states, that despite the end of the Cold War, alliances based on common interests lead to tolerance towards states which violate international law, if the offender is under their sphere of influence and that there is a resurgence of hegemonic tendencies by some states with the aim of creating new empires, at the expense of smaller states and in violation of international law.
He went on to say that despite the declared intention of the Secretary–General of the UN to proceed with the much-needed reform and modernization of the Organisation, as well as its modus operandi and decision-making processes, the lack of willingness on the part of the aforementioned states have not allowed for the implementation of such a change.
“As a result of the same political expediencies, the UN, unfortunately, adopts an equal-distance stance, even when faced with the violation of decisions, resolutions and defined scope and terms of reference specified to the Secretariat. This results in emboldening offending states, which not only disregard international law but also create new precedents outside the framework of legality”, he underlined. The President went on to say that his reference to the need for reforms to the structure and implementation mechanism of decisions taken by the UN does not only arise from my assessment of other international problems, but also from what his country still endures and suffers as a result of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
“It is with deep disappointment that I heard President Erdogan claiming that, and I quote: “As Turkey we want all issues in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean to be solved within the framework of good neighbourly relations and in conformity with international law”. How provocative and ironic is it for the Turkish President to put forward such a claim, when he threatens to overtake Greek islands or when he commits thousands of violations of the airspace of a sovereign and neighbouring, contrary to international law?”, he said.
He also said that is it even more provocative to express the desire to resolve disputes “in conformity with international law” when he refuses to implement numerous resolutions of the United Nations on the Cyprus Problem and creates new "fait accompli".
He added that Turkey refused to abide by numerous UN resolutions adding that Erdogan last year claimed that efforts should concentrate on reaching a settlement based on the so–called “realities on the ground”, whilst this year he spoke about the need for everyone to “see the truth” and that there are “two distinct states and two distinct peoples on the Island today”.
President Anastasiades said that when decisions or resolutions based on international law are not to be implemented or enforced, then this, rightly so, could be perceived as fostering or even rewarding arbitrariness.
“This is what we are actually witnessing today with the Cyprus Problem. Turkey, which systematically violates international law, calls on the international community to recognize its illegal 'fait accompli'”, he pointed out.
Cyprus President noted in his speech that despite historical compromises by the Greek Cypriot side, all efforts on reaching a settlement on the Cyprus Problem failed as a result of the intransigent stance and irrational demands of Turkey.
He added that the latest example was the Conference on Cyprus held at Crans Montana in July 2017, during which, as regards the internal aspects of the Cyprus Problem, the UN Secretary-General assessed in his report on 28 September 2017 that “the core outstanding issues related to governance and power-sharing remained few” and that “by the time the Conference closed, the sides had essentially solved the key issue of effective participation”.
He said that whilst the aim of the Secretary-General to reach a strategic agreement was within close reach, the reason for the unsuccessful outcome was Turkey’s inflexible stance and insistence on maintaining the anachronistic Treaty of Guarantee, the right of intervention and a permanent presence of troops.
“Following a period of stalemate and despite our disappointment, we undertook new initiatives to resume the process from where it was left off at Crans Montana, culminating in the Joint Understanding reached with the UN Secretary-General and the Turkish Cypriot leader on November 25, 2019, which reaffirmed the principles for the resumption of a new round of talks”, he said.
President Anastasiades said that regrettably, once again, Turkey undermined the prospect of resuming the negotiating process and instead, in the meeting held in Geneva in April 2021, they presented their position for changing the agreed basis of a settlement from a federal solution to a two-state solution.
“Nonetheless, our side undertook another initiative, which also led to a new joint meeting of the leaders of the two communities with the UN Secretary-General in September 2021, during which it was agreed that he would proceed with the appointment of an Envoy, in order to deliberate with both sides and all interested parties so as to reach a common ground for a new peace process to resume. Yet again, Turkey refused to uphold the said agreement,” he said.
President of the Republic also said that we continued taking initiatives to break the impasse, through the letter he sent to the Turkish Cypriot leader on May 23, 2022, by which he conveyed constructive proposals for the adoption of win-win Confidence Building Measures.
He said that these measures were immediately rejected by the Turkish Cypriot side, which submitted counter-proposals in line with their aim for a two-state solution.
“Based on the above-mentioned, I believe that it is clear that the Greek Cypriot community has exerted and will continue to exert every possible effort for the resumption of the talks, in order to reach a settlement based on the United Nations Resolutions. And as I have emphasized, the only way forward in resolving conflicts and for peace to prevail is none other than the unwavering adherence to international law and the UN Charter, not as arbitrarily interpreted by those who seek to disguise their revisionist aspirations,” he noted.
He said that during his ten-year tenure he might not have been able to enjoy what the vast majority would have also wished: The necessary reforms of the international Organisation, the resolution of international conflicts and tackling challenges that affect hundreds of millions of people, such as hunger, poverty and climate change.
“I might have not been able to see my homeland reunited, with my Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot compatriots living in conditions of peace, prosperity and stability. However, I earnestly hope that during my lifetime, I will be able to witness a better and more stable future for humanity”, he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. Numerous rounds of talks under the UN aegis failed to reach results. The latest round of peace talks took place in the summer of 2017 in the Swiss resort of Crans Montana.