President Christofias calls on Turkey to change policy on Cyprus
Nicosia, July 24 (CNA) – President Demetris Christofias has called on Turkey to change its stance on the Cyprus problem, not only for the sake of Cyprus, but also for its own sake, to facilitate its European aspirations.
The President urged the international community and his European partners to support, without intervening, the ongoing UN-led negotiations and address Ankara, if they really want to help find a political settlement in Cyprus.
In a speech at an event in memory of Cyprus’ first President the late Archbishop Makarios and those killed defending democracy during the 1974 military coup and the Turkish invasion that followed, President Christofias said that Ankara must know that Nicosia cannot give its consent to its unhindered course towards the EU, if Turkey itself continues to deal with Cyprus with arrogance and claim control and sovereignty over the Cypriot state.
President Christofias explained that “we have chosen to act in such a way and follow such a policy that would estrange our Turkish Cypriot compatriots from subordination to Turkey.”
Some people in the Turkish Cypriot leadership, he noted, might be annoyed with such views but he expressed certainty that “our words and actions are resonant in the hearts of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots who are suffocating under Turkey's occupation and the division of our country.”
President Christofias said that even though many things depend on Turkey’s policy, “we do not choose to follow developments passively but we struggle to improve things and create the conditions for a settlement, at least to the extent that depends on us.”
He said that Turkey has a decisive role to play in the Cyprus question, but the factor “Turkish Cypriots”, in particular those who want a united Cyprus, must not be ignored.
Greek Cypriots, he added, must discuss with the Turkish Cypriots to solve problems in relations between the two communities, adding at the same time that the settlement of the Cyprus question is not easy given that it depends primarily on Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern part since they invaded in 1974.
“If Turkey does not change its policy, if it does not comply with international law, the settlement of the Cyprus question is not possible,” he pointed out, adding that everyone must understand this, especially the international community and Cyprus’ EU partners.
President Christofias expressed regret that arguments put forward by Turkey to justify the invasion and the continuing occupation are being embraced by some circles who should safeguard international law and mainly the values and principles on which the EU was founded.
He underlined that “we will never compromise with division, we are taking and we will continue to take concrete initiatives to pave the way towards a settlement.”
Referring to the ongoing talks between him and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which began in September 2008, President Christofias reiterated that “we are not as satisfied as we would like to have been from the progress achieved.”
“For the sake of Cyprus and our people we want a settlement the soonest possible. Finding a solution depends on and is directly linked with the proposals tabled at the negotiations and whether these serve the goal for a bizonal bicommunal federation and not on certain milestones,” the President said.
He said that the Turkish side continues to interpret the settlement and submit proposals which in many cases are outside or contradict the agreed framework of a settlement, whereas the Greek Cypriot side’s proposals are fully in line with the agreed framework and serve totally the goal for a united federal republic, with the rights of both communities and its citizens safeguarded.
President Christofias said that “in our effort to solve the Cyprus question we seek the support and the help of the international community, the EU and our partners in the Union.”
“We are doing a lot towards this direction,” he said and expressed hope that "those involved in the Cyprus question mean what they say, when they state that they have learned from the experiences of the past and do not wish to make the mistakes of 2004 again”, adding however that “in fact some things indicate the contrary.”
In 2004, the people of Cyprus were asked to vote on a UN-proposed solution plan, the result of arbitration and not negotiation. The overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots rejected the plan, saying it did not lead to the reunification of the country nor did it serve the interests of the people of Cyprus. The majority of the Turkish Cypriots approved it.
President Christofias said that if the international community and Europe really want to help reach a settlement, they must support without any intervention the procedure of the talks and exert their influence on Ankara.
He said that “we are struggling for a Cyprus settlement based on the principles of international and European law, on the basis of UN resolutions and the high level agreements” of 1977 and 1979 between the leaders of the two communities, which provide for a bizonal bicommunal federation.
“Our goal is to free our country of Turkey’s occupation and do away with foreign dependencies, to terminate the influx of illegal settlers, to reunite the country, the state, the economy, the institutions and the people, to restore human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots and to ascertain the fate of our missing persons, he said, stressing that “we will do our outmost to achieve these goals.”