SPEECH BEFORE THE WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE
Speech by the Ambassador of Cyprus
Mrs. Erato Kozakou- Marcoullis
before the Wisconsin Legislature, June 23, 1999
_____________ It is a great honor to be addressing today the Wisconsin Legislature. I wish to express my profound gratitude for this invitation, which I consider as an expression of support to my country and the people of Cyprus.
I am particularly grateful for the resolution just adopted by this distinguished body, which reflects its concern for an ongoing injustice and its support for the need to find a just and viable solution to a longstanding problem that has kept the island of Cyprus and its people forcibly divided for almost 25 years.
During these crucial times for our country, it gives us strength and hope to see such prominent bodies as the Wisconsin Legislature playing such an active role in promoting the cause of freedom and justice, values which are so dear to this great country.
This support is all the more important in view of the fact that for a quarter of a century the unacceptable and anachronistic status quo in Cyprus remains unaltered. Turkey's illegal occupation of Cyprus' territory persists; the 200.000 thousand uprooted Greek Cypriot refugees continue to be forcibly prevented to return to their homes; the fate of the 1618 missing persons (including 4 American citizens of Cypriot descent) has still to be ascertained; the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the occupied area continue to live under appalling conditions; Turkish settlers now outnumber the Turkish Cypriots and our 9000 year old cultural heritage continues to be plundered and destroyed.
The US, which maintains vital interests and influence in the region, has a most important role to play in persuading Turkey to comply with the numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops, the return of the refugees to their homes and respect of their human rights and to agree to the establishment of an international force to guarantee the implementation of the agreement that will be reached.
These same principles that have been established as vital elements for the solution to the Kosovo tragedy, should be consistently applied in all cases where the same abominable policies of ethnic cleansing have resulted in the expulsion of people and the massive violation of their human rights.
The people of Cyprus have suffered for far too long, with the refugees having suffered the most. Destitute, cut off from their roots these refugees have the same inalienable rights to return to their homes in safety and dignity as the Kosovar refugees. There is no doubt that the human pain and suffering of refugees should be universally treated. There is no doubt that the standard to measure responses to humanitarian tragedies of such a magnitude, should be applied uniformly, without political or other considerations in mind. Only then international efforts become credible. Only then can we speak of justice.
While deeply appreciating the United States' repeated expressions of interest in achieving progress, we believe that the time has come for actions to speak louder than words, so that we may finally see concrete results on the basis of the UN and Congressional resolutions on Cyprus. Turkey has to receive the clear and loud message that a quarter of a century of violating the rule of law and flouting the international community's decisions can no longer be tolerated.
To achieve this goal, we continue to depend on the active support of our friends. I am confident that with the support you have expressed by the adoption of today's resolution, coupled with the support of friends on Capitol Hill and from the other states of this country, we can succeed in further energizing the efforts to reunite Cyprus.
We can succeed in what the leaders of the G8 stated last Sunday , that "the Cyprus problem has gone unresolved for too long" and that " resolution of this problem would not only benefit all the people of Cyprus, but would also have a positive impact on peace and stability in the region". The G8 leaders urged the UN Secretary General in accordance with relevant UNSC resolutions to invite the leaders of the two parties to negotiations in the fall of 1999. We have already made a commitment to respond positively to such invitation. The other side, which has so far been negative and intransigent, must now be convinced to cooperate so that a just and peaceful solution may at long last be reached.
This is our dream. With only 193 days left until the dawn of the new millenium, we hope that Cyprus will now be the next high priority item in the international community's agenda and a solution will become a reality. We shall then all rejoice that justice at last prevailed.