PRESS CONFERENCE BY FOREIGN MINISTER OF CYPRUS
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
20 September 2002
The cornerstone of future peace and security in Cyprus was the implementation of Security Council resolutions, the Foreign Minister of Cyprus told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this morning.
Dr. Ioannis Kasoulides said that Security Council resolutions, which reflected the wisdom of the international community and were used to settle disputes in other parts of the world, must also apply to the question of Cyprus. The resolutions of that body were not decided upon lightly and did not show partiality.
Under the aegis of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the good offices mission mandated to him by the Council, talks had been taking place in Cyprus since January, Dr. Kasoulides said. The Secretary-General had met with the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and the Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides in Paris on 6 September and would meet with them again in October in New York. If there had not been progress on the main issues, it was because the positions advocated by the Turkish side were well outside the spirit and letter of Security Council resolutions.
The Secretary-General's recommendations on the Cyprus issue might help to break the present impasse, he said. Unfortunately, the Secretary-General's recommendations had not been adequately addressed by the Turkish Cypriot leader. He hoped however, that the window of opportunity, although increasingly narrow, would be exploited to the fullest so that a settlement was reached before 12 December, the date when the European Union was expected to decide upon Cyprus' accession to the Union. Although the settlement of the Cyprus issue was not a precondition for accession to the Union, he would have preferred that a united Cyprus join the Union. If Cyprus were not united by then, it would not be due to a lack of effort or constructive approach on the part of the Government of Cyprus and President Clerides. Neither side should have the right to veto accession to the Union by blocking the efforts for a solution.
What should be the first step in implementing Security Council resolutions? a correspondent asked. The issue of Cyprus had been debated for a long time, he said. A solution to the Cyprus problem had been negotiated for some 28 years. The time has come for a comprehensive settlement. The issues had been thoroughly debated, and it was now a matter of putting together the different ideas into a comprehensive settlement that was mutually agreed upon by both sides.
In its resolutions, the Security Council provided a vision for a future Cyprus, he said. That vision had been repeated in numerous United Nations resolutions, describing one State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty, single international personality, single citizenship and with two politically equal communities. The Security Council had defined political equality, which could not be confused with numerical equality, as equal rights for both communities. The future Cyprus would be a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. It was on that compromise that the settlement of the Cyprus question must be built. Being asked to "compromise on a compromise" could not be done.
What would happen after December? a correspondent asked. Efforts would continue until the problem was solved, he said. It was in the interest of all parties concerned that a united Cyprus join the European Union. Accession was in the interest of both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. It was of particular interest to the Turkish Cypriot community, which was in a position of political isolation and economic disadvantage. The accession of a unified Cyprus to the Union would offer tremendous economic advantages to the areas under Turkish military occupation, which had been deprived of the progress that had taken place on the rest of the island.
It was also in the interest of Turkey that a united Cyprus join the European Union, he continued. A Cyprus that was co-governed by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots would advocate for the serious desire of Turkey to join the Union. It would also be in the interest of Greece that a unified Cyprus join the Union. Greece would be comfortable with Cyprus as an equal member of the Union in that Cyprus would be able to proceed on its own without Greece's present responsibilities due to the presence of Turkey's army on the island. The accession of a country without the problem of division would also be in the interest of the European Union. If a solution were not found by 12 December, efforts to unite the country would, of course, continue.
Was Cyprus occupied by one or two foreign powers? a correspondent asked. The Security Council had found that some 37 per cent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus -- an independent and sovereign Member State of the United Nations -- was under military occupation by Turkey, he said. That had also been the finding of the European Court of Human Rights in several cases. What happened in Northern Cyprus, which was under the occupation of the Turkish army, was the responsibility of the Turkish Government. No independent court or body had ever found that the other part of Cyprus was under occupation.
People from both communities would have their own version of what happened during the 1960s, he said. Various reports of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) during that time suggested that the decision of Turkish Cypriots to move into "enclaves" was the choice of the Turkish Cypriot leader despite the Mission's assurances that it was safe for them to circulate freely on the island. There were different versions of the history of that period. The Cypriots had been living together in peace and harmony for centuries. One version of what had happened during the 1960s should not condemn Cyprus to permanent partition and should not be allowed to perpetuate the status quo with the presence of the Turkish army in Northern Cyprus. "It is time to forgive and to forget, to look to the future and not to the past," he said.
The concept of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation had been agreed upon since 1977 and 1979, Dr. Kasoulides said. Why had that agreement not been implemented? That was the big question. Was it because northern Cyprus was necessary for the Turkish army and for the protection of Turkey's southern flank and the Shah Jahan maritime routes? Was it because of the Turkish Cypriots that the Turkey army was in Cyprus, or was it for other expansionist reasons? he asked.
If there could be no "compromise on the compromise", did that imply that there was no "wiggle room" in his position? a correspondent asked. Dr. Kasoulides said he was referring to the Turkish side's present position, which insisted on the creation of a settlement based on the concept of two separate, independent sovereign States with a link between them but without a central constitution or legislature. In 1977 and 1979, Mr. Denktash had signed agreements based on the
concept of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. Now he was talking about a confederation. That was why he had said there could be no compromise on the compromise.
Asked to comment on his expectations for the October meeting, Dr. Kasoulides said talks were taking place in Cyprus twice a week. Following the 6 September Paris meeting, the leaders had already met several times and would meet again before the beginning of October. As far as he knew, both sides would continue to meet up until December.
In response to another question, he said it was true that the position of the sides was far apart. But if the Turkish side abandoned the concept of the two sovereign States solution and sought a compromise within a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with one single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship, of course there was room for compromise.
Asked to comment on the contacts he had had recently in New York, he said the 10 days of the general debate had been a productive period. He had had the opportunity to talk to most of his colleagues from the European community as well as officials from the United States and the United Kingdom. Cyprus was not a one-country issue. It belonged to the eastern Mediterranean region and had excellent relations with the countries of the region, the Arab world and Israel. As a friend to everyone in the Middle East, Cyprus used its friendly relations with countries in the region to be productive in current situations. His address to the General Assembly today would cover both international issues and the issue of Cyprus in a way that reconfirmed a number of principles that applied to the rest of the world. He would also express his readiness to reach a settlement.
Asked to identify the main obstacle to a unified Cyprus, Dr. Kasoulides said it was the Turkish Cypriot's insistence on two separate, sovereign States. With the presence of the Turkish army and the de facto division of the island, separate sovereignty would mean the legal right for legal partition in the future. "We love our country -- we love northern Cyprus as much as we love southern Cyprus", he said. Historically, the whole of the island belonged equally to both communities. One could not designate one part of the country as belonging to one community.
"It is unthinkable to accept terms of a settlement that would prepare the ground for a legal divorce," he said. It was not a question of succession, but of a peaceful solution. "We are seeking for a solution, not a recipe for dissolution."
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