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Opening statement by the President of the Republic at the Press Conference for the First 120 Days of his Governance
2008-07-10 08:39:14

When I assumed the Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus I declared that the primary target of our government would be the achievement of a solution to the Cyprus problem the soonest possible. A solution that would put an end to the occupation and reunite the territory, the people, the institutions and the economy of the state. This can be achieved within the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, as envisaged by the 1977 and 1979 high-level agreements. The united federal, bicommunal, bizonal Cyprus Republic will be a state with a single sovereignty, nationality and a single international personality within the framework of which there will be a political equality between the two communities, as defined in the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. The solution will restore and safeguard the human rights and the fundamental freedoms of the people as a whole and will be based on the UN resolutions on Cyprus and the principles of international and European law.

Having in mind the whole situation as regards the Cyprus problem, we had stressed the need for the Greek Cypriot side to take initiatives so as to put an end to the stalemate, by forming a policy based on principles while at the same time being assertive and flexible.

Through this policy we tried to activate all factors that play or can play a role in the Cyprus problem in the right direction, with a view to creating a momentum for a just, under the circumstances, viable and functional solution. In implementing this policy, we had made the commitment to move in two directions.

Firstly, in the direction of the Turkish Cypriot community so that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots jointly work for the solution of the Cyprus problem.

Secondly, in the direction of the international community in order to change the negative climate for our side and to revive their interest for a solution and the reunification of Cyprus. My meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Talat on 21 March has been the starting point for the realization of our first commitment. During that meeting we had agreed to proceed to the setting up of Working Groups and Technical Committees for the discussion of issues of substance and measures that affect the daily life of the people, respectively. This was also envisaged by the 8 July 2006 Agreement.

We also agreed on the opening of Ledra Street, which has become a reality in its first phase, as well as on the beginning of negotiations for the opening of other crossing points on the dividing line, giving a priority to Limnitis. The opening of Ledra Street is a fact that has strengthened contacts and communication between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. At the same time, it was a development which helped to internationally project the need to end the division of Cyprus, through a solution that will reunify the island. I would like to assure you that we will continue the efforts to open Limnitis crossing point as a priority and we hope that this will be achieved very soon. We are ready to reopen other crossing points, as well.

Referring to confidence building measures and measures affecting daily life, I note the agreement that has been achieved between the two communities to implement six measures affecting daily life and I hope that they will be immediately applied. I express the hope and expectation that the negotiations at the Technical Committees will soon produce other measures, too.

Another two meetings followed the March 21 meeting. One on the 23rd of May and one on the 1st of July. During these meetings it was clarified that the negotiating basis is a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality in the framework of which there will be political equality as defined by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Clarifying the negotiation basis constitutes an important step forward. It went beyond the provisions of the 8th July 2006 Agreement. It is a step that was achieved through hard work and continuous effort, adhering to the principles of a solution but also displaying flexibility. It is very important to note that for the first time in a joint statement made by the leaders of the two communities, mention is made to a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality as an agreed subject and this by itself is a very important fact.

In our next meeting with Mr. Talat, on the 25th of July, when the final review of the work made in the Working Groups and Technical Committees will be made, we shall decide whether we shall proceed with direct negotiations. At this point, I would like to stress that whatever has been achieved since the 21st of March is the outcome of mutual understanding between the two leaders. I say this without ignoring the existing different approaches and the difficulties we are facing.

Our second commitment was to become active towards the international community. Towards the United Nations and towards the European Union.

It is a fact that my election to the Presidency of the Republic was the beginning for the reversal of the negative climate. With the initiatives we have undertaken the international community today credits us with good will and dedication to the solution to the Cyprus problem. The international climate is now favorable, a fact that makes our political statements more reliable, which allows us to take up initiatives and actions.

We address ourselves to the United Nations Organization aiming at the collective action of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council on the basis of the UN resolutions on Cyprus. This approach has already brought a positive resolution and a positive statement by the President of the Security Council on the Cyprus problem.

The climate has become more positive both in the European Union and the Council of Europe. In view of the fact that Turkey is in a course of accession negotiations, we have asked the European Union to exert its influence, so that Turkey fulfils its obligations towards the Union and towards the Republic of Cyprus. We have also asked that Turkey cooperates for a solution to the Cyprus problem which will be primarily in the interest of the Cyprus people.

We consider the speech made by the President of the European Commission Mr. Barroso before the Turkish Grand National Assembly, where he asked of Turkey to fulfill her obligations and cooperate for the solution of the Cyprus problem, to be an expression of the European Union's determination to play a more active role in the solution of the Cyprus problem. This was achieved following our own activities in the direction of the Union.

In the framework of the strengthening of the relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the Permanent Members of the Security Council, we sought to normalize, strengthen and develop further the relations between our country and Great Britain, which is one of the most important partners of Cyprus. As it is known, the relations between the two countries have been disturbed after the signing of the Memorandum for strategic alliance between Great Britain and Turkey, which contained provisions for upgrading the pseudostate.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Cyprus and Great Britain, signed with the British Prime Minister during my recent working visit in London, has restored the relations and has set sound foundations for the development and deepening of the relations between Cyprus and Great Britain for our mutual benefit.

We consider that the account for the first hundred and twenty days of my presidency regarding the Cyprus issue is positive. The termination of the stalemate, the mobility that exists, the dialogue carried out between the two communities at the level of the Working Groups and Technical Committees, the dialogue between the President of the Republic and Mr. Talat and the prospect for resuming direct negotiations, the interest by the international factor, the reversal of the negative climate existing internationally towards the Greek Cypriot side, constitute evidence of a positive account.

This positive account does not make us relax our vigilance nor does it slacken our efforts for a solution. A solution to the Cyprus problem continues to be very difficult and complicated and becomes even harder due to the situation in Turkey. The obstacles we have to overcome are many and complex until we reach a solution.

Besides, we would like to remind that from the very beginning we had stressed that we do not have a magic wand which could magically solve the Cyprus problem. We had underlined the difficulties as well as the fact that not everything depends on us. The positive fact that the United Nations Organization and all interested parties in general accept that the solution will be found by the Cypriots and for the Cypriots, does not exonerate Turkey from its responsibilities.

The key to a solution is in the hands of Turkey and largely on her will. We had, however, stated that we will do our utmost to create the conditions for a solution.

This is what we have been doing from the first day of my presidency and we believe that the results so far vindicate our policy. They vindicate our position that, in the face of the stagnation and deadlocks caused by Turkey’s stance, we have to take specific and continuous initiatives in various directions based on the principles for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Unity and consensus in our internal front constitute an important element for the success of our struggle. It is important that the President is supported by the political parties in the efforts for a solution. I believe that the President enjoys this support regardless of specific views and reservations expressed by different political parties regarding the developments. An example of this is the unanimous announcement of the National Council which met last week. I would like to thank for the support and repeat that I will continue with the same dedication and consistency to work for the solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of my policy statements and declarations.

In conclusion, I would like to refer to the question of upgrading the way the National Council functions. I have asked the political parties to submit their views, something they have already done, on a better operation of the Council. Soon, we will deal with this issue and, through the dialogue with the political parties we expect to strengthen its operation so that the collective spirit is improved for the benefit of unity in our internal front so that the President of the Republic, who is the negotiator of the Greek Cypriot side, may enjoy collective support.

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