President Assures Greek Cypriot Side Working Towards Cyprus Settlement
Nicosia, July 8 - President Demetris Christofias assured on Tuesday that the Greek Cypriot side is doing everything possible to create the conditions necessary to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem, noting that this settlement should safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms, and be based on UN resolutions and the principles of international and European law.
In his opening remarks at a press conference for the first 120 days of his government, President Christofias said the aim in the Cyprus problem was to achieve a settlement the soonest possible, terminating the Turkish occupation and reuniting the territory, the people, the institutions and the economy of the country.
He noted that this could be achieved through a bizonal, bicommunal federation and that the solution should restore and safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, and be based on UN resolutions and the principles of international and European law.
President Christofias pointed out that the Greek Cypriot side has undertaken the initiative for moves in order to break the deadlock, with a policy that is based on principles, adding that there were two directions in which this policy would be pursued, first in the direction of the Turkish Cypriots and second in the direction of the international community.
Referring to his meetings with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, President Christofias said they agreed to set up the working groups and technical committees and open the Ledra Street crossing point, as well as implement other confidence building measures, adding that on July 25, when they meet again, they will review progress and decide if they will begin direct talks to solve the Cyprus problem.
He also said that since his election, in February this year, there has been a change for the better regarding the stance of the international community towards the Greek Cypriot side, adding that the international climate is now favorable.
President Christofias said the first 120 days regarding the Cyprus problem were positive, noting however that this did not mean we would become complacent, since reaching a settlement continues to be hard and complicated, especially taking into consideration the political situation in Turkey.
He pointed out that the international community appears to accept the fact that it is the Cypriots who must find a solution for themselves, without this meaning that Turkey has no responsibility.
The President assured that the Greek Cypriot side was doing everything possible to create the conditions necessary to reach a settlement, and pointed out the need for unity.
On the National Council, top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said he has asked the members to submit views on how to upgrade it, with an aim to strengthen the body and its collectiveness to the benefit of the home front and in order to provide collective support to the President of the Republic.
Responding to questions by journalists, President Christofias said that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working groups and the technical committees, that are meeting to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations between the leaders of the two communities, with a view to find a settlement of the Cyprus question, are working intensively “according to our orders” to achieve further progress and convergence.
He added that he disagrees with the assessment that there is no progress at all and so direct talks cannot begin.
He said this is not the time to evaluate the possibility for the beginning of direct negotiations on the basis of the work fulfilled by the working groups and the technical committees, underlying that the final assessment will be made on July 25 when he will meet again with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. This will be their fourth meeting after Mr. Christofias’ election as President of the Republic of Cyprus.
He said that both himself and Mr. Talat assess that the working groups and technical committees must continue their work, irrelevant of whether negotiations will begin or not.
President Christofias made clear that “there is no deadline for us for the beginning of negotiations” noting that “we have tried deadlines in 2004 and both communities have a bad experience” because the settlement of the Cyprus question was not achieved.
“I made clear to Mr. Talat that we cannot accept tight deadlines unless we ascertain pretty soon that we are close to a mutually accepted settlement,” he added.
He noted thought that this conclusion cannot yet be reached, having in mind the positions of the two sides.
As regards the basis of the settlement, Mr. Christofias said that it is clear that the state will have a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single personality. He added that in the framework of the bizonal, bicommunal federation “the two communities will enjoy political equality.”
He said that each community will govern its respective state that will be part of the federation, and noted that the political equality of the communities does not mean separation or areas with purely Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot population. “We are claiming the right of the refugees to return back to their homes, their right to their property and the restoration of human rights,” he added.
Commenting on statements by Mr. Talat referring to virgin birth, the President said that: “the state must be united, the economy must be united and this will be safeguarded through the federal government and the central federal constitution.”
As regards developments in Turkey, Mr. Christofias expressed the belief that they certainly affect efforts for a Cyprus settlement.
“Turkey is a key for the settlement of the Cyprus question and we are concerned with developments in Turkey” he said, noting that the Greek Cypriot side is in favor of a democratic Turkey that will make political, social and financial reforms to join the EU and show respect for the international law.
He underlined that Turkey must fulfill its obligations towards the EU and towards an EU member state, the Republic of Cyprus, a part of which it occupies with its troops.
To read the entire opening statement please click here