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Cypriot Ambassador: Cyprus' division obstacle to human rights
2004-11-03 10:40:13

by Apostolis Zoupaniotis

United Nations, Nov 3 (CNA) -- The division of Cyprus by Turkish troops constitutes a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights, including freedom of movement, property rights and human rights issues pertaining to the situation of the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the northern part of Cyprus, as well as the question of the missing persons, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the UN Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis has stressed.

Addressing the Third Committee, at the 59th Session of the General Assembly, on the situation of human rights, Mavroyiannis added ''such a forcible division, ineluctably resulted in massive violations of human rights, as clearly reported by numerous reports of the Secretary General of the United Nations and the decisions of various international bodies''. ''No real remedy to these violations can be found without the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Cyprus, in the same way that, no comprehensive functional and lasting solution can be achieved, without the restoration of the human rights of all of its citizens'', Mavroyiannis said.

He noted that ''suggestions that Turkey has acquitted itself of its obligations in the reunification process and with regard to human rights in Cyprus, because the Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the Annan plan some months ago, while it continues occupation and colonisation of the northern part of Cyprus, are simplistic, self-serving and mistaken''.

''Turkey would substantively contribute to the reunification and reconciliation process only if it withdrew its forces from Cyprus, respected established international rules of human rights, and abided by the Security Council resolutions on Cyprus and international law'', the Cyprus Permanent Representative said.

Referring to Cyprus' EU accession, as well as to Turkey’s EU aspirations he said that they should be seen as a window of opportunity in order to achieve protection of human rights through a solution in line with international human rights standards and the EU acquis communautaire.

Furthermore he reassured that the Cyprus government works hard to ensure equal opportunities and promotion of the rights of all its citizens and it thus regrets the fact that, due to the existing division, it is not in a position to apply its policies to the whole of its territory.

''In July 2003, for instance, the Committee on the Rights of the Child in its concluding observations, expressed the concern that the State Party, namely the Republic of Cyprus, is not in a position to exercise control over all of its territory and consequently cannot ensure application of the Convention in the areas not under its control'', he noted.

Referring to the ongoing violations of the rights of the few remaining enclaved persons in the occupied area of Cyprus, he said that they constitute an issue of grave concern for the Cyprus government.

''The partial easing of restrictions of movement across the island and the recent re-opening of the Greek-Cypriot secondary school in Rizokarpaso are indeed positive and promising signs in the right direction but the 1975 Vienna III Agreement, which provides for the basic required standards of living for the enclaved persons is still far from implementation'', Mavroyiannis stated.

Regarding the issue of the missing persons in Cyprus, he said that the government of Cyprus believes that a lasting solution to this issue is long overdue.

''We welcome in this respect the resumption of the work of the Committee on Missing Persons and express hope that this time no more obstacles will be placed in the way of appropriately and definitely resolving this tragic and purely humanitarian issue'', Permanent Representative said.

''The Cyprus issue remains in its essence an issue of foreign invasion and military occupation. The ongoing presence of more than 35,000 occupying Turkish troops on its northern part, imposes an artificial division of the island and of its people, a premeditated division, along ethnic lines, which completely contradicts both the traditional character of the island as well as the will of the Cypriot people and is against any logic and any moral principle'', he concluded.

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