Distinguished Guests, Fellow Cypriots, Dear Friends,
On 29 April 2021, the day the latest effort to restart negotiations for the solution to the Cyprus issue came to a close, the Secretary General of the United Nations stated his determination to fight for the security and well-being of the Cypriots, of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, that deserve to live in peace and prosperity together.
Indeed, the Cypriot people not only deserve, but have a right to be allowed to prosper in a reunified country, free from the Turkish occupation troops and rid of the anachronistic system of guarantees. It was with great disappointment that we watched the Secretary General conclude at the end of the informal talks in Geneva last April that there was not enough ground, at that time, to restart formal negotiations. This, however, did not come as a surprise. The Turkish side, even before Geneva, and particularly since the change in the Turkish Cypriot leadership last October, has put its efforts behind seeking the partition of Cyprus and openly advocating for a two state solution. How can there be common ground on a premise such as this? A position that falls totally outside the agreed UN parameters for a solution to the Cyprus problem and contradicts all UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus. Not to mention the absolute disregard for the numerous convergences and the body of work achieved through painstaking negotiations, culminating in Crans Montana in 2017.
Cypriots, whether Greek, Turkish, Armenian, Maronite, Latin, deserve to live together, in peace, in a modern, functional, independent, European country. In a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with political equality, as defined in UN Security Council
Resolutions. In a reunified state, with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality. This is the fundamental position President Anastasiades reiterated again most recently in Geneva. A solution also fully aligned with the values and principles on which the EU is founded and the EU acquis, given that Cyprus is and will remain an EU member state after the solution. Our friends and partners, like the UK, need to also repeat publicly and privately to Turkey this basic understanding, so that the Turkish side hears loud and clear that partition is not an option for Cyprus and the solution is to be found within the agreed UN framework.
I would like to recognise the presence of the Members of Parliament, Ms Catherine West and Mr Bambos Charalambous and thank them for their presence and applaud their efforts, as well as the many other vocal supporters of the Cypriot cause for reunification. Thank you. It is through this collective effort, through your voice in Parliament, both individually and collectively through the All Party Parliamentary Group, through all your voices in the social media space and through other means, that we keep Cyprus on the radarscreen and at the forefront of the UK government’s agenda.
My thanks and appreciation are directed also to the National Federation of Cypriots led by its President Christos Karaolis for all their tireless efforts and advocacy here in the United Kingdom to add voice to the call of the people of Cyprus who want to live in peace and security in a reunited Cyprus free from occupation troops.
I would also take this opportunity to express my appreciation to my friend the Greek Ambassador for being here today. Your presence reflects the continuing support of Greece and its people who stand shoulder to shoulder with Cyprus in all efforts on the international scene, whether within the EU or wider afield, to push for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus Problem.
If we can hope for any progress at the next informal meeting that the UN Secretary General intends to hold in the coming months, it is imperative that all parties come in good faith, work for the benefit of the Cypriot people and safeguard the independence and territorial integrity of the island. To date, this is lucking totally on the part of Turkey and Mr Tatar. Quite the opposite, if we look at their actions and statements.
With the somber anniversary of the Turkish invasion approaching for the 47th year on 20th July, it is our sincere hope that provocations, inflammatory rhetoric and new attempts at fait accomplis by Turkey are avoided. The international community must pre-emptively give this clear message. We have seen their illegal actions in Varosha and Cyprus’s EEZ. Does the international community need further proof?
Regrettably, President Erdogan seems intent on illegally visiting the occupied areason that day and making “big announcements”. No one knows what these could be, but what is certain is that, if we go by the track record of Mr Erdogan and the occupation regime, these announcements will not serve the imperative need of creating a climate conducive to returning to substantive negotiations.
In essence, this is the posture and policy of Turkey, namely that “might is right” andthat with the passage of time the international community will either forget that the Cyprus problem is one of invasion and occupation and that Turkey’s goal of partition and control of what goes on the island and in its waters is appeased. We cannot and shall not accept this. Where is the justice in this? Is this the world that we seek to live in? Is this the vision of Global Britain? I believe not. Our sword and shield against this brazen disregard for international law is the support of the international community and the need to strongly advocate for the implementation of the countless UN Security Council Resolutions which do not recognise the illegal entity in the occupied area and which are clear on the framework for a solution contained therein. Appeasement of Turkey and allowing new fait accomplis to take hold, only emboldens Turkey and further cements the division of Cyprus.
We shall not and cannot forget the continuing occupation and the violation of human rights; We shall not and cannot forget the missing persons and the continuing trauma of all who still await to find out the fate of their loved ones; We shall not and cannot forget our enclaved who to this day have carried the flame of the remaining Greek Cypriot presence in the occupied area, despite the difficulties faced; We shall not and cannot forget the refugees, some of whom fled to this country which opened its doors and embraced them after being forcibly expelled from their home and only ask for the obvious, the right to return. We shall not and cannot forget the Rizokarpaso Peninsula and Apostolos Andreas, Keryneia and the Pentadaktilos, the divided capital of Nicosia, Famagusta, Mesaoria or Morphou. The international community cannot forget all of these ongoing violations of human rights and
fundamental freedoms or the illegal settlers that are changing the demographics of the island; living and building on property belonging to refugees; or the desecration of places ofworship. To do so would be to accept that “might is right” prevails over “right is might”.
President Anastasiades has reiterated on countless occasions his commitment to leaving no stone unturned to find a solution within the UN framework. A solution that allows a reunited Cyprus to be free of occupation troops and the shackles of the anachronistic guarantor system that Turkey refuses to let go of. A solution that offers a future for all Cypriots built of peace, stability, opportunity and prosperity. A solution that would allow Cyprus to play to the fullest the important role it plays as a purveyor of stability in the eastern Mediterranean. In this, I know we will continue to have your support and advocacy.
Our vision is for Cyprus to be a beacon of peace and stability. Not Turkey’s military fort. There is a responsibility on anyone concerned about the future of Cyprus and its people, of our region, of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa, to discourage Mr. Erdogan and prevent his big plans. This is the time for real, genuine engagement and commitment to peace.