Cyprus President addresses UN General Assembly
by Apostolis Zoupaniotis
United Nations, Sep 25 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has stressed the need for a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem that will embrace all Cypriots and will allow Cyprus to take its stride and assume fully its place and role within the European family.
Addressing the 58th session of the UN General Assembly, Papadopoulos announced the Cyprus government's decision to unilaterally start within the next two months, in cooperation with the United Nations and with the financial support of the European Union, demining in the buffer zone and unilaterally proceed with the destruction of an appreciable amount of stockpiled anti-personnel mines during November 2003.
As regards efforts for a Cyprus settlement he reiterated that ''we are always ready whenever the Secretary-General invites us to engage in serious negotiations on the basis of his plan in order to reach a settlement as soon as possible, in conformity with relevant United Nations Resolutions'' and expressed hope ''that soon it will be possible for the other side to realize that they have to return to the negotiating table, cooperate constructively with the Secretary-General and demonstrate the necessary political will to yield a settlement.''
Papadopoulos referred to the humanitarian issue of the missing persons stressing that ''we still strive in Cyprus for establishing the fate of all those missing, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, since the Turkish invasion of 1974.''
''This is a major issue of a purely humanitarian character and we seek the support of the international community as a whole in order to put an end, at last, to the continuing ordeal of so many families. For this to happen, the cooperation and political will of the Republic of Turkey are absolutely necessary,'' he added.
Furthermore, President Papadopoulos said the rights of the few remaining enclaved persons in the occupied part of Cyprus continue to be violated. ''The rights of the refugees are also still being denied, whilst our people face new faits accomplis by the occupation army, as is the case of the advance of the Turkish Army in the area of Strovilia. With the assistance of the international community we are, nevertheless, resolved to persevere for the implementation of international conventions and for the restoration of the human rights of all Cypriots,'' he added.
As regards Turkish Cypriots, the Cypriot President said ''we continue as far as we are concerned to do our best to bring them on board and we have embarked on an ambitious policy in order to enhance their standard of living and allow them to fully enjoy rights and benefits that they are entitled to as Cypriots.''
Papadopoulos stressed that ''the Government of Cyprus, attaches great importance to the international effort against mine proliferation and the clearing of minefields'' and for this reason ''it has taken the initiative to clear all minefields in the buffer zone laid by the National Guard immediately after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.''
''In this regard, I would like to announce today my Government?s decision and firm commitment first: to unilaterally start within the next two months, in cooperation with the United Nations and the financial support of the European Union, demining in the buffer zone and second: to unilaterally proceed with the destruction of an appreciable amount of stockpiled anti-personnel mines during the month of November this year,'' he added.
He noted that ''this is just a first but, I believe, a major step in the implementation of our obligations under the Ottawa Convention.''
Referring to the long-standing Cyprus problem Papadopoulos said ''we have been facing the catastrophic results of aggression and we have been struggling for more than 29 years for the solution of the problem created by the invasion and occupation of the northern part of our country by Turkey. Despite all efforts Turkish intransigence has not been curbed and their defiance of numerous Resolutions of the General Assembly and of the Security Council continues unabated.''
He said that such an attitude ''constitutes not only unacceptable behaviour in international relations but is also completely anachronistic and incomprehensible to any rational thought. Furthermore it is at variance with the will and the wish of the overwhelming majority of the Turkish Cypriots themselves who are persistently asking for a solution and participation in the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.''
Papadopoulos praised UN efforts for a Cyprus settlement and said ''we still believe in the United Nations, we are grateful for its interest and involvement and I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to the Secretary-General for his tireless efforts within the framework of his Good Offices Mission for Cyprus, entrusted to him by the Security Council.''
'' I would like also to praise the work of his Special Adviser, Mr. Alvaro de Soto and all members of his team, of his Assistant Special Representative and the UN Mission as well as to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus and to the contributing countries, Papadopoulos said.
He added that ''it is appropriate to mention this here at this stage because the continuing and longstanding Turkish intransigence has a few months ago thwarted what was probably the strongest ever initiative of the United Nations for finding a solution in Cyprus.''
''We understand and share the bitterness and the disappointment of all involved for the failure but as I said before we should not give up. We always counted on UN support and involvement and we will continue to do so,'' Papadopoulos said and stressed that ''a solution is urgently needed in Cyprus.''
''A functional and viable solution that will embrace all Cypriots and will allow our country to take its stride and assume fully its place and role within the European family. A united Cyprus in a united Europe thriving and navigating along with its partners towards a secure and prosperous future and working hand in hand with all other members of the international community for the promotion of universal values,'' he pointed out.