Cypriot President addresses CoE Warsaw Summit
by Rebekah Gregoriades
Warsaw, May 17 (CNA) -- Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said today that the parties involved in the Cyprus problem should contribute towards the restoration of human rights on the island, noting that he would spare no effort in striving through negotiations to truly and effectively reunify the country, its people, society, territory, economy and institutions.
Addressing the Third Summit of the Council of Europe, taking place in Warsaw, President Papadopoulos pointed out the importance of executing all decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in an immediate and courageous manner, noting that failure to do so would undermine the achievements of the past 50 years and put at risk the very foundations of European human rights protection.''
President Papadopoulos said the goal of the Council of Europe was one of ''peace, stability and most importantly understanding, a continent founded on the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.''
''The visionary founders of the EU and the previous fifteen members of the EU have opened the great horizons of a reunified Europe. Now, the EU of 25 countries took up the torch and follows the avenue which they have opened,'' he said.
He added that ''we are all in agreement that so far the course of the Council of Europe has been, on the whole, a success story,'' noting that ''our achievements are hard-gained and noteworthy and as such they must be safeguarded and strengthened.''
''At the same time, they must serve as the basis of the future course of our organisation. This is our great responsibility and our great challenge,'' he said.
President Papadopoulos said that in this respect Cyprus welcomes and supports the proposal made this morning to entrust Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean Claude Juncker to report on the relationship between the Council of Europe and the EU.
Referring to the European Convention of Human Rights and its supervisory mechanism, President Papadopoulos said ''the Convention must remain the essential reference point of protection of human rights in Europe as a whole.''
''We need to secure, irrespective of cost or political considerations, the credibility and the long-term effectiveness of the Convention's system and the values it represents. This is our single most important responsibility. It is our duty towards 800 million Europeans, to the world in general and to the human rights movement. We must rise to this challenge and we must complete by May 2006 the reform provided for in Protocol 14,'' he added.
Referring to the European Court of Human Rights, he said ''we should proceed in providing the Court with all resources necessary for its enduring smooth and unhindered functioning.''
He said the conditions of service of the judges should be made attractive enough to ensure further excellence, and additional measures essential in securing the future effectiveness of the Convention and Court should be elaborated without further delay, noting that ''to this end the proposed establishment of a panel of eminent and independent international personalities is the step in the right direction that has our full support.''
President Papadopoulos pointed out that ''human rights should be placed beyond any internally or internationally expressed will of states,'' adding that ''today, more than ever, multilateralism and unconditional implementation rather than unilateralism and defiance, should prevail when it comes to human rights, and the Republic of Cyprus has always committed itself to these principles.''
He said ''we must now reevaluate the practical application of our collective duty to enforce human rights,'' noting that ''our most urgent task is to address the long-standing fundamental question of the execution of the Court's judgments.''
''The execution of all judgments, within a reasonable timeframe, is indispensable for the credibility of the Convention. We must finally react to this acute problem and our response must be immediate and courageous. Failure to address this effectively will undermine the achievements of the last 50 years and put at risk the very foundations of European human rights protection,'' he said.
President Papadopoulos said ''Cypriots are particularly sensitive when it comes to safeguarding and further promoting the achievements and common values of the Council of Europe,'' noting that ''after all, Cyprus' history has been a constant struggle to maintain its unity and sovereignty.''
''Our recent history has been marked by grave violations of fundamental human rights of our citizens by the foreign military forces, which occupy about 37% of Cyprus. The unresolved humanitarian issue of the fate of the missing persons, only to mention one, is proof to that,'' he pointed out.
He added that ''there is an urgent need for restoration and respect of human rights of all Cypriots.''
''It is my firm belief that the contemporary aspirations of the parties involved in the Cyprus problem can and should contribute towards restoration of human rights on the island,'' he said.
President Papadopoulos added that ''our common aim should be to build a region anchored in our determination to resolve divisions by peaceful means and in accordance with international and European principles.''
''Our commitment to that has been repeatedly declared. I will spare no effort in striving through negotiations to truly and effectively reunify our country, its people, society, territory, economy and institutions,'' the Cypriot President assured.
Concluding his remarks, President Papadopoulos said ''Cyprus expects that this Summit will mark the beginning for a strong and refocused Council of Europe, uniting its member states under a common identity of shared values and principles,'' adding that ''the Council should concentrate on the areas in which it excels, with the primacy given to the consolidation and unconditional enforcement of human rights norms and standards.''
''This is the vision of Cyprus for the Council of Europe of the 21st century,'' he said.