UN Ambassador calls international community to support UNSG's mission
by Apostolis Zoupaniotis
United Nations, Nov 18 (CNA) - The settlement of the Cyprus problem, one of the oldest items remaining on the UN agenda is, in its essence, a question of respect and implementation of international human rights norms and the Cyprus government relies heavily on the support and determination of the international community to translate their commitment into action and actively support the Secretary General's mission towards that end, Cyprus' Permanent Representative at the UN Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis has said.
Speaking before the UN General Assembly on ''The Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms'', Mavroyiannis also noted that ''no effort will come to any good, if the Republic of Turkey is not willing to heed the call of the international community to withdraw its occupation troops from Cyprus, to end the continuous human rights violations and to give the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, the opportunity to live in conditions of peace and security in a reunited country, member of the European Union.''
Furthermore he assured that, ''having suffered from grave violations of human rights, as a result of a foreign invasion in 1974 and of the continuing occupation of one third of its territory, Cyprus attaches great significance to the protection and promotion of human rights and therefore places the human rights agenda among its top priorities.''
''We vigilantly follow developments in the area of human rights throughout the world and remain committed to international efforts to uphold and defend human rights where in danger. Simultaneously, the government works hard to incorporate a human rights aspect into all its structures and institutions in the territory under its control in order to ensure equal opportunities and promotion of the rights of all its citizens,'' Mavroyiannis said.
He also noted that, ''acknowledging the difficulties faced by those citizens who reside in the occupied areas, the government of Cyprus has adopted during the last months a generous package of measures, which will give them the opportunity to enjoy the results of its human rights based policies as well as the benefits of the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.''
Unfortunately, he added, the occupation authorities not only prohibit Turkish Cypriots from enjoying these benefits, but also on many occasions suppress their freedom of speech and expression by threatening and intimidating those who dare to challenge Turkey's policy on Cyprus and support the idea of a reunited Cyprus, free of occupation troops and member of the European Union.
Mavroyiannis said that the ongoing violations of the rights of the few remaining enclaved persons in the occupied area of Cyprus are yet another issue of primary concern for the Cyprus government.
''The living conditions of these people continue to deteriorate while the occupying regime continues blatantly to refuse the implementation of the 1975 Vienna III Agreement,'' he noted and said that ''the partial easing of restrictions on movement across the shameful and anachronistic dividing line maintained by the military might of the occupying power, much publicised by the Turkish side, has not made life any easier for the enclaved or their relatives.''
He also noted that ''after the partial lifting of restrictions of movement by the occupation regime last April, refugees were able for the first time in 29 years to see their houses and villages'' and were able to attest to that foreigners, mostly brought in from the Turkish mainland ''in an attempt to alter the demographic character of the area, arbitrarily take advantage of their property''.
''At the same time Turkey refuses to comply with the relevant decisions of international judicial bodies and to contribute constructively to the achievement of a settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of respect for human rights and of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,'' Mavroyiannis added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.