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2002-01-27 02:36:38


As you have noticed from the title of my speech, "Cyprus: Looking to the future", despite recent complications and yet another cycle of uncertainties surrounding the negotiating process, my intention is to explore all the existing positive elements and relay a message of hope about the future.

I am specifically going to present to you a vision waiting to be fulfilled. Not all the pieces of the puzzle are in place at this point, in fact most of them are missing, but I will argue that there is already a framework that could bring Cyprus and its two communities back together in a common homeland and this common homeland could be a heaven of peace and prosperity within the European Union. I shall also argue that, should this become a reality, there would be no losers, rather all will stand to win from a reunified federal Cyprus member of the European Union.

I propose to take you on a journey into the future and share with you the elements of this vision by unfolding a win-win situation that, I believe, could prevail on the island and in the region as a result of a Cyprus settlement and membership of Cyprus to the European Union.

By a settlement I suggest a solution of the Cyprus problem, which will be the outcome of meaningful negotiations between the Greek and Turkish communities on the island.

I shall not go into any detail on the exact form of such settlement except to reiterate the framework that has already been endorsed by the United Nations:

" A Cyprus settlement must be based on a state of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal communities, as defined in the relevant Security Council resolutions in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation and that such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession"

Certainly, this is a very general framework. There are many pieces that have to be put together and agreed upon in order to reach a workable comprehensive settlement. Such a settlement should encompass all legal and other instruments and other agreements required to arrive at a functioning federation, which would guarantee a secure, peaceful and prosperous environment for all the people of Cyprus, of all creeds, ethnic backgrounds and language groups.

What is needed is political will to engage in a productive and substantive negotiation that would identify the required elements on all core issues and put them together as part of a fair and viable solution.

Although a new effort has started about a year ago and we have already concluded five rounds of proximity talks in New York and Geneva under the auspices of the Secretary General of the United Nations and the full support of the United States, all the other Permanent Members of the Security Council, the European Union and many other individual countries, we are still not near making any substantive progress because of the fact that the Turkish side has not as yet shown the much needed political will to engage in a substantive way in the ongoing process.

On the contrary, since the beginning of the process the Turkish side has been using every method and tactic to complicate the process by putting preconditions either to enter the process or to move forward.

The main stumbling block has all along been the position maintained by the Turkish Cypriot side, fully supported by the Turkish Government, that the goal should not be a federation, in the form of one indissoluble state with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship, as has been agreed and endorsed by the international community, but a confederation of two separate states with separate sovereignties.

This position is still maintained by the Turkish side and in recent days it has even taken the form of clear threats of withdrawing from the proximity talks, which have been branded by the Turkish Cypriot leader as a waste of time, unless his unacceptable preconditions for recognition or acknowledgement of a separate state in the Turkish occupied area are met and the goal is changed to suit his objective of a confederation.

All these are taking place with the full encouragement, support and indeed endorsement of the entire leadership of the Turkish Republic, at both the political and the military level.

As I mentioned at the outset, I will try to concentrate my remarks today on the vision of a reunited federal Cyprus, member of the European Union, assuming that both the Turkish Cypriot leadership and the Turkish Government will at long last realize the many benefits that I will present today as a win-win situation, will abandon the anachronistic postures of occupation, division and separation and will work towards the fulfillment of this vision.

Although it has been made very clear through decisions of the European Union that a solution of the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for Cyprus' membership to the Union, I shall work on the hypothesis that a settlement has been reached and Cyprus, which is now leading the inner circle of fast track candidate countries, is included in the next wave of enlargement.

The year is around 2005 and a bi-zonal, bi-communal Federal Cyprus, democratic, prosperous and fully demilitarized is a full-fledged partner in the European Union with all the obligations and the benefits deriving from membership. Greek and Turkish Cypriot Ministers, Parliamentarians and other federal, state and local officials will be participating in all the Institutions of the European Union.

The advantages from such membership definitely encompass political, economic and social benefits.

Let us first look at the political benefits.

The European Union was born in the aftermath of WWII by former adversaries who came together in partnership and developed common objectives for freedom, security and justice, for economic and social progress and for common foreign and security policies and prospects.

As part of such a Union and using as a model the positive experiences of cooperation and reconciliation, the two communities of Cyprus will learn to heal the wounds of the past and build bridges of trust between them, seeking elements that unite them in a common European environment, in a common future.

Let us now see in what ways this could really work.

First: both communities hold security as a crucial element in a future peaceful relationship and coexistence. Membership of Cyprus in the European Union will provide them with the required security as a result of being part of a larger European family of nations, but, more importantly, because democracy, liberty, protection of minorities, respect for human rights and the rule of law constitute the cornerstone of political stability and peace in Europe.

I referred earlier to the demilitarization of Cyprus, a long-standing proposal, which, once realized, could be beneficial to all parties concerned from the political, security and economic point of view.

Cyprus' benefit from demilitarization, its participation in a stable European political environment and the presence in Cyprus, for as long as necessary, of a multinational force under a UN mandate, would provide the much needed feeling and guarantee of security to the population as a whole and to its respective communities.

Moreover, with no armies, no weapons and no defense spending the Federal Republic of Cyprus would be able to use all the monies thus saved for the economic and social progress for its people.

Second: membership in the EU will allow Cyprus to fully participate in all the decision-making mechanisms of the European Union. This will undoubtedly contribute to the shaping of policies and decisions that will have a positive bearing on the interests of the country and the welfare of its people.

Third: European Union citizenship, which has been a unifying factor in Europe, will also be a unifying factor for the two communities in Cyprus. As citizens of Europe they will embark on developing bonds characteristic of a common European identity. At the same time, they will be able to develop and nurture their own distinct cultural identity within the context of a Federal Cyprus. The European Union, which is itself an example of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious union of people will be the role model for similar policies and practices to be followed in Cyprus.

Let us now move to the economic benefits, which are of particular importance.

For the country as a whole, the short-term and long-term economic benefits from membership rest primarily on a stable and sound economic environment, increased opportunities for economic advancement and a definite improvement of Cyprus' prospects in global competition.

I do not intend to go into any detail on these benefits because they are too obvious and they apply generally to all perspective new members. I shall rather concentrate my argument on the benefits for the Turkish Cypriots and how reunification of the country and the economy and full membership of a Federal Cyprus to the EU will be particularly advantageous to them.

The Turkish Cypriots will benefit from membership much more than any other part of the Cyprus population and their income and living standards will be rapidly brought to the level of the rest of the population.

It is well known that the economic and social conditions of the TC community had fallen very much behind the rest of Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish invasion and the consequent division of the island, the people and the economy.

At the present time, the Government-controlled area has a $15,000 per capita income, while the areas under the control of the Turkish army have a per capita income of merely $3,500, with high inflation, heavy emigration and deteriorating economic and social conditions.

With EU Membership, national economic policies of a reunited Federal Cyprus will be strengthened from the normalization process and from development assistance to be provided by structural funds so that a balanced and sustainable development could be reached.

Based on assessments of the European Commission, "the integration of the northern part of Cyprus, especially if taking place in the context of Cyprus' accession to the EU, will not raise major economic difficulties because of its relatively small size and its potential".

Turkish Cypriot businesses will flourish in the new European environment and agriculture, manufacturing and tourism will benefit enormously as a result of better prices, better access to the huge EU market, greater assistance and greater spending power of the population.

In sum Turkish Cypriots will be able to balance their income and living standards with that of the Greek Cypriot Community and ensure that they can compete effectively and in a healthy way with their compatriots, being able to develop in full their entrepreneurial and productive abilities for their own benefit and for the benefit of the island as a whole. As a result emigration, which has considerably drained the Turkish Cypriot community for the past 26 years, will be reversed and the estimated 45,000 TC that have left the island will return back to their homeland.

Now let us examine the benefits for Europe itself. How will a Cyprus settlement and the accession of a Federal Cyprus benefit Europe? For Europe having a free and whole Cyprus as a partner in the EU, would be of tremendous advantage.

First of all, it would prove the catalytic role of the enlargement process and the therapeutic effects of accession in solving problems, thus improving the reputation of the European Union as a union dedicated to peace, cooperation and prosperity.

Second, through Cyprus' accession, the EU would take in its midst a strong and vibrant economy, which would be even stronger following reunification.

Third, a peaceful and prosperous Cyprus would be an enthusiastic member of the EU, participating actively and contributing positively to the common goals of the Union.

Finally, Cyprus would be an important bridge and the easternmost European Union border, bringing the Union closer to the Middle East, with all the political and economic benefits that this would entail for the EU, for Israel, Egypt, Lebanon and other countries of the region.

The win-win argument I have presented so far is also fully applicable with regard to the normalization of relations between Greece and Turkey, which is a sine qua non for permanent peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

These two NATO allies have undoubtedly had a number of problematic issues on their diplomatic agenda, but the Cyprus problem and Turkey's policies in Cyprus, particularly since 1974, have been the main source of tension between them, having poisoned their relations and having brought them at times to the brink of confrontation.

Taking into account the military strength and arsenals in both countries, the risks from an escalation of tension ending in a broader conflict are too obvious, threatening regional peace, as well as the integrity and coherence of the eastern flank of NATO. If this had been true throughout the cold war, it remains equally so in a post-cold war, 21st century era.

There is no doubt that a Cyprus settlement would contribute considerably to the improvement of relations between Greece and Turkey and would greatly facilitate the settlement of other differences.

Both countries have some of the highest defense spending in Europe and in NATO and would stand to gain from full normalization of their relations, by freeing important funds that can be alternatively used for furthering economic development and for the prosperity of their peoples.

The recent warming of relations following Balkan developments, earthquake diplomacy and the Helsinki EU summit decisions last December, is proof of the catalytic effect that such developments can have on the relations between these two countries.

Turkey, who is a key and crucial player in the whole equation, would also stand to benefit from a Cyprus settlement and membership of a Federal Cyprus in the European Union.

Following the important decisions taken at the Helsinki EU summit, Turkey is now heading towards the same EU destination. Accession of a Federal Cyprus to the European Union would be of particular significance for Turkey. Let me explain why:

First: If Turkey would have undertaken all the important economic, political and human rights reforms required by the EU, would have adopted the European Acquis, would have cooperated fully for a Cyprus settlement in compliance with UN resolutions and would have resolved its differences with Greece on the basis of the rules of international law, a Federal Cyprus, member of the European Union, would be fully prepared to support Turkey's membership.

Second: A Cyprus settlement would remove a serious obstacle in Turkey's relations with other countries, would improve its international status and would strengthen pro-Western, secular forces in the country.

In sum, a long awaited cooperation on the part of Turkey for the solution of the Cyprus problem, by withdrawal of its 35,000 troops from Cyprus and by ending the occupation and the forcible division of the island and its people, in compliance with UN resolutions, could have long-term economic and political benefits for Turkey.

Last but not the least, United States strategic interests would definitely be served if the Cyprus problem were to be solved in a fair and durable way so that peace and stability would prevail on the island and the entire region of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Firmly believing that Cyprus' reunification and membership to the EU would be a win-win for all parties concerned, we are determined to make the vision I put before you today a reality. We owe its fulfillment to our children and to the future generations of Cypriots, but primarily we owe it to our country, which must survive as a single international personality, a peaceful, democratic and prosperous place for all its citizens, Greek, Turkish, Armenian and Maronite Cypriots alike and as an integral part of the European Union.

Speaking at this prestigious School that bears the name of the great American Statesman, President John F. Kennedy, allow me to conclude with a quotation from a historic speech in the then divided city of Berlin, Germany on June 26, 1963 in the presence of then Mayor Willy Brandt:

"Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one- and this country, and this great continent of Europe- in a peaceful and hopeful glow."

Berlin and Germany were finally reunified. The shameful wall that separated a city, a country and a people finally crumbled.

Today, Nicosia remains the last divided capital in the world and Cyprus the last divided country in Europe. Our vision and our determination are to see this division come to an end, to see our people live again in peace with prosperity and justice.

" So we are all idealists. We are all visionaries. Let it not be said of this Atlantic generation that we left ideals and visions to the past, nor purpose and determination to our adversaries. We have come too far, we have sacrificed too much, to disdain the future now. And we shall ever remember what Goethe told us- that the " highest wisdom, the best that mankind ever knew" was the realization that "he only earns his freedom and existence who daily conquers them anew""

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