H.E. Dr. Ioannis Kasoulides
Minister of Foreign Affairs
At the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York , 20 September 2002
I would like to extend to you my warmest congratulations on your election as President of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I have no doubt that your long experience and proven diplomatic skills will successfully steer the work of this session.
I would also like to extend my appreciation to your distinguished predecessor, H.E. Dr. Han Seung-soo, for his effective and determined guidance during the work of the Fifty-sixth session.
Cyprus joins other states in extending a warm welcome to the new members of the UN, Switzerland and East Timor.
The opening of this session coincides with a moment of overwhelming challenges for the international community. The multitude of global problems demand a determined and collective response and necessitate the enhancement of the role of the United Nations as the leading mechanism in securing world peace and stability.
Cyprus would like to reaffirm its strong devotion to the United Nations and its commitment to the cause of international cooperation and multilateralism, so eloquently advocated and defended in the United Nations Secretary-General's statement to the General Assembly on 12 September, 2002. It is our firm belief that the international community should act in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and that all UN resolutions should be implemented. Such an approach will not only enhance the credibility of the UN Organization, but will also facilitate the achievement of permanent solutions, based on objectivity, justice and international legality.
In the case of Cyprus, numerous resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council have yet to be implemented. Contrary to its obligations under the Charter, Turkey shows its defiance by calling for the acceptance of the so-called "realities", brought about by its aggression. Twenty-eight years have passed, since the tragic summer of 1974, and the people of Cyprus, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, are still suffering from the terrible consequences of the Turkish invasion and the continuing military occupation of 37% of the Republic's territory.
The Government of Cyprus, however, does not want to engage in polemics with Turkey. On the contrary, we believe that we should move beyond confrontation, towards a common future of prosperity, democracy and regional cooperation. In this respect, both sides should seize the moment and take advantage of the window of opportunity that is now available for the achievement of a just and viable settlement to the Cyprus problem, based on Security Council resolutions, which represent the verdict and collective wisdom of the international community. The time to engage in a serious, meaningful dialogue is now, in view of the unique convergence of positive factors such as the renewed interest of the international community, the personal involvement and commitment of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, to whom we express our appreciation, and the European Union accession process of Cyprus.
The international community regrettably has yet to see the much-expected change of attitude from the Turkish side. The Security Council in its statement of 9 July, most authoritatively, declared that the "Turkish Cypriot side has been less constructive in its approach so far and had declined to support the goal of resolving the core issues". The Council also strongly underscored the need for the Turkish side to cooperate fully in the on-going effort for a comprehensive settlement, which takes into full consideration the relevant Security Council resolutions and treaties.
We call upon Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership to heed the call of the international community and abandon its unacceptable policy of division and communal segregation. Their position for a "two sovereign states" solution and the denial of the rights of refugees to their properties represent an anachronism in a globalised world, bound together by integration, diversity as an enrichment, the quest for democracy and the rule of law. Most importantly, such a policy cannot lead to a settlement or reconciliation, thus perpetuating the suffering and the plight of all Cypriots. We call on the Turkish side to respect Security Council resolutions and also the High Level Agreements, signed by Mr. Denktash himself, which provide for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and envision a State with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and a single international personality.
In keeping with the interests of our people and regional stability, our own vision for Cyprus is a departure from the passions of the past. We see the future of our country as a reunited federal State, member of the European Union, with the human rights and fundamental freedoms of each and every citizen fully protected. We are aware that the overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriots share this vision and long for reunification, and a common future in the European Union, with all the safeguards of a modern, democratic and effective State. They know that the accession of Cyprus will offer to all its citizens security, social and economic advancement, especially for the Turkish Cypriot community.
As for our side, President Clerides who has been participating in the talks in a constructive and positive manner, earning the respect of the international community, will continue to show the same determination and farsightedness, so as to fully safeguard the interests of Cyprus and its people.
One year has passed since the heinous attacks of September 11 that dramatically changed the international political climate. The immediate actions of the United Nations in the aftermath of the attacks have reaffirmed the strong determination of the international community to counteract the global threat of terrorism, which transcends geographical regions and religions.
Cyprus believes in the necessity of global mobilization and collective action against terrorism, under the aegis of the United Nations. It has become evident that in the fight against terrorism, the importance of an individual country is not related to its size or its geographic location. Every State has a vital contribution to make, in the struggle to combat this threat to our common values. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus reaffirms its commitment to this struggle through full implementation of all relevant international Conventions and Protocols relating to terrorism, as well as Security Council resolutions. Our determination has been explicitly stated at the highest level and through our ratification of all twelve of the international Conventions and Protocols, pertaining to international terrorism.
Two recent international events deserve special mention, since they have created a momentum for international cooperation on issues of a political, economic, environmental and legal nature: The First Meeting of the States Parties of the Rome Statute has been a veritable landmark against impunity and of deterrence against genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression.
On the other hand, the World Summit on Sustainable Development reaffirmed the necessity for coordinated and effective international action, in a joint effort to overcome the challenges of economic disparity and environmental degradation. What is now imperative is the effective implementation of all the commitments that have been undertaken. Turning a blind eye to nature's warnings, will exacerbate the irreversible consequences for the global ecosystem.
Cyprus also reiterates the need for joint efforts in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus. Moreover, my country attaches particular importance to the strengthening of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which represents a viable opportunity for the African continent to escape marginalisation and underdevelopment.
The situation in the Middle East remains fragile and constitutes a major threat of instability, with repercussions extending far beyond the region. Cyprus, as a neighbouring State with close relations to the parties involved, supports all initiatives towards a just settlement, based on international law and UN resolutions, including those of the Quartet. Such a settlement will lead both to peace and stability, and will ensure normal relations and security for all countries of the region. It will also have to include the fulfillment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people through the creation of their own State and the termination of occupation. Most importantly, it will put an end to violence and reinforce the voices of moderation and cooperation. We reiterate our condemnation of all acts of terror, including suicide bombings. As in the past, we stand ready to facilitate the parties in any way they feel that we can contribute, including by hosting meetings on the island.
Cyprus attaches great importance to the role of the United Nations in the field of disarmament. It will therefore continue to support international action aimed at strengthening multilateral instruments on disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In this spirit, I wish to inform this august body that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus has recently proceeded, in cooperation with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, with the destruction of a significant number of weapons and has decided unilaterally for the demining of the buffer zone. Moreover, Cyprus is in the final stage of ratifying the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines.
The General Debate of this year's General Assembly is nearing its end. The distinct focus of this session has been the galvanization of world opinion for the necessity of implementing UN resolutions. Cyprus has for long been advocating respect for all UN resolutions, without double standards and exceptions. We are convinced that, such a development will bring us closer to the shared vision of collective security, peace and justice, as envisioned by the forefathers of our Organization.
Thank you, Mr. President.