26 September 2008
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

press conference by president of cyprus


Reiterating his determination that a solution to the division of his country be found as soon as possible, President Dimitris Christofias of Cyprus stressed at Headquarters today the need to establish peaceful coexistence between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.

President Christofias, who was elected in February, said at a press conference that he had campaigned on a platform of ending the island nation’s   34-year-old division.  The people of Cyprus had to fashion a solution themselves.  “The Cypriots have to understand that they are responsible for their fate and for their children and grandchildren.  Otherwise, the future will not be as bright as we want it.”

Stressing that he hoped to find “common language” with his compatriots and with his friend and “co-fighter for rapprochement”, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, he said he had had a brief opportunity to shake hands and “exchange some opinions” with the President of Turkey during the opening of the        sixty-third General Assembly session.

Recalling his message to his Turkish counterpart that Turkey could play a decisive role in resolving the Cyprus question, he said, however, that it was not enough for Turkey to back the negotiations between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides.  Positive moves by that country, which continued to maintain 40,000 troops on Cyprus, were needed to create conditions for a final solution to the dispute.

Asked to outline his specific objections to the Turkish President’s reference to the “establishment of a new partnership State” in his General Assembly address, President Christofias said that one State already existed -- the Republic of Cyprus, a partnership between the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, created on 1 October 1960.

Thus, there would be no new partnership, he continued.  “It’s the old partnership that will be continued in new circumstances under the evolution of the unitary State [of Cyprus] into a bizonal, bicommunal State.”  That clarification had been made to the Turkish delegation.

The difference between the current climate for negotiations and the failed Annan plan, Mr. Christofias said in response to a question, was that the arbitration offered by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had not been balanced, but had favoured demands from Turkey rather than the Turkish Cypriot community.  As a result, the current process would involve the “good offices”, rather than the arbitration, of current United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  Under that umbrella, the two communities would have the chance to sit together and find, using the relevant United Nations resolution, a common, acceptable solution.

Asked about the possibility of Turkey holding the presidency of the Security Council, he said he expected Council members and the wider United Nations membership not to react positively.  A country that had occupied half of another Member State for 35 years had no excuse for ignoring a number of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

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For information media • not an official record