New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
“The Cyprus problem is solvable on the basis of the UN Charter and Resolutions, and the principles of the European Union, so that the reunited Republic of Cyprus will be a normal state, for the benefit of all its inhabitants, and for peace and stability in the region”, Ambassador (ret.) of Cyprus Andreas Jacovides said, speaking at an event organized by the Foreign Policy Association, at Harvard Club.
Ambassador Jacovides was this year’s main speaker of the “Spiro Voutsinas Memorial Lecture”, supported by the New York Community Bankcorp, mother company of Atlantic Bank in which the late Greek American banker served as president for 10 years. Joseph Ficalora, CEO and COO of NYCB and close friend of Spiros Voutsinas introduced the main speaker.
The lecture was entitled “The role of the United Nations in Conflict resolution; the case of Cyprus” and Ambassador Jacovides said that the United Nations can and has played a considerable role in conflict resolution regarding the Cyprus situation. “The Security Council, the General Assembly, as well as the Secretary-General have played and continue to play this role since the problem arose in late 1963 and even earlier, in the days before the independence of Cyprus. This role needs to continue, both in terms of peace making and of peace keeping.”
Over 120 people attended the event, among them the Permanent Representatives of Greece and Cyprus to the UN Ambassadors Maria Theofili and Kornelios Korneliou, Consul General of Cyprus Ambassador Vassilios Philippou, the Permanent Representatives of Monaco and Romania and other members of the diplomatic community, the President of Atlantic Bank Nancy Papaioannou, academics and members of the banking industry.
Foreign Policy Association President, Noel Lateef – who opened the event – spoke about late Spiros Voutsinas, a board member of the Association, with whom he had in many occasions discussions about the situation in Cyprus.
“Those of you who knew Spiros, you remember how he had an unfailingly optimistic problem; he didn’t believe in unsolvable conflicts. On the contrary he felt that good diplomacy and good foreign policy could overcome even the most challenging impasse.”
Lateef also called main speaker Ambassador Andrew Jacovides an extraordinary diplomat.
Ambassador Jacovides was introduced by CEO and COO of NYCB Joseph Ficalora, who also paid tribute to Atlantic Bank’s former president and his friend Spiros Voutsinas.
“As it’s been the case in the past, we always recognize Mr. Voutsinas for the many – many things he has contributed to the banking industry in many other ways. It is truly a pleasure to have the opportunity to be here recognizing that Mr. Voutsinas has had an ongoing significant impact on many of us and certainly in the industry. He served on many different boards, including our board until his passing. He was also President of the Atlantic Bank division of our institution.”
Ambassador Jacovides recalled that Spiros Voutsinas was the one who selected him to serve on the Advisory Board of the Atlantic Bank.
“Spiros, an immigrant from Greece, achieved through his ability and hard work, the American Dream and was, most recently, the President of the Atlantic Bank in the service of the Greek American, but also the broader American community, a task ably carried on by his successor Nancy Papaioannou. I recall being invited by Spiros to the first event I attended of the Foreign Policy Association and I am honored to deliver this lecture dedicated to his memory”, Jacovides said.
In his remarks, Anrew Jacovides offered an extensive overview of the Cyprus problem and the long involvement of the United Nations in the negotiating process.
“It has long been my conviction, that if the rules of international law had been applied, the problem we have been confronted with in Cyprus, would not have arisen. And, if they are applied now, the problem would be solved to the satisfaction of all Cypriots and for peace in the region”, Ambassador Jacovides underlined.
The speaker who has served the Cypriot diplomatic service since the founding of the Republic of Cyprus, said that the General Assembly and the Security Council played a major role through many resolutions; the Secretary-General, as early as 1964, exercised his good offices and continues its mediation through SC Resolution 186 in 1964.
A very interesting insight given by Ambassador Jacovides was from the report of Dr Gallo Plaza – United Nations Mediator in 1964 – submitted to the S.G. in 1965.
“Referring to the Turkish proposal for federation, Plaza wrote “it seems to require a compulsory movement of the people concerned – many thousands on both sides – contrary to all enlightened principles of the present time, including those set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. He also wrote: “In fact, the arguments for the geographical separation of the two communities under a federal system of government have not convinced me that lit would not inevitably lead to partition;” and, further, that the physical division of the minority from the majority should be “considered a desperate step in the wrong direction”.
Jacovides stressed that even though certain quasi-meditational functions were conferred by the Secretary-General upon his Special Representative in Cyprus in 1966 and the latter exercised his good offices in this regard, regrettably the United Nations mediation system under para.7 of Resolution 186 has remained dormant ever since that time.
The speaker pointed out that if the Security Council strongly supported the Mediator appointed under its own resolution, and the solution was reached upon his recommendations, accepted by Cyprus, the problem would have been solved fairly and lastingly as of that time and this would have spared Cyprus the disastrous effects of the coup and the invasion of 1974.
Another observation of Ambassador Jacovides was that if the suggestion of Secretary-General U-Thant to refer the question of the legality of Article IV of the Treaty of Guarantee and, in particular, whether it conferred the right of forcible intervention to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion and the ICJ clarified the legal issue we would not still have to face different interpretations which partly caused the failure of the latest round of talks in Switzerland.
Ambassador Jacovides also answered an argument raised often, that in UN Resolutions the wording is intentionally vague and Turkey is not pointed out by name.
“There is some element of truth in this but it is not correct where all factors are considered.”
He cited the wording of many relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on Cyprus that condemn explicitly illegal Turkish actions.
“For instance, General Assembly Resolution 37/253 (1983) of May 1983, (which, inter alia, “welcomes the proposal for the total demilitarization made by the President of Cyprus (para.4) the General Assembly “Demands the immediate withdrawal of all occupation forces from the Republic of Cyprus “ (para.8). The same resolution deplores “the fact that part of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus is still occupied by foreign forces” and “all unilateral actions to change the demographic structure of Cyprus” and reaffirms “the principle of inadmissibility of occupation and acquisition of territory by force”.”
He also cited Security Council Resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984), in which “the Security Council takes categorical positions on the purported unilateral declaration of independence by the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, describes the declaration “legally invalid and calls for its withdrawal”. It also called upon all states “not to recognize any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus” and condemned “all secessionist actions, including the purported exchange of Ambassadors between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, declares them illegal and invalid, and calls for their immediate withdrawal”. To this date, no state, other than Turkey recognizes the so-called “TRNC”.”
Serving in Washington as the Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States for 14 years, Andrew Jacovides gave a short overview of the U.S. policy since 1964 – when President Johnson stopped Turkey from invading the island – to the present.
“Vice President Biden has tried to assist towards a Cyprus solution and, to some extent, so is currently Vice President Pence”, he said.
Citing Richard Haass, the current President of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Special State Department Cyprus Coordinator in the early 1980s, who listed the Cyprus problem in a book entitled “Unending Problems” as “one which needed to be managed since it could not be solved”, he said that so far he has proven right in this assessment.
“My own view is that the Cyprus problem is solvable, since the UN procedure is there, and the constitutional basis is agreed (as spelled out the Security Council resolution of 1994, earlier cited). What is missing is Turkey’s willingness to accept that reunited Cyprus should be a normal state (in the apt term used by S-G Guterres) free of foreign troops and settlers (at present there are more settlers than Turkish Cypriots in the occupied area), anachronistic foreign guarantees and rights of forcible intervention, which in any case are incompatible with peremptory norms of modern day international law. A functional state which can continue to play within the UN and the EU a constructive role in the region, as it has been successfully endeavoring to do in recent years despite its current limitations due to foreign occupation. A state economically flourishing through tourism, shipping and services and with the resources of its EEZ for the benefit of all Cypriots. It is an achievable objective, worth struggling for.”
He said the key to the solution of the problem continues to be Ankara’s position. “Turkey aims at making Cyprus its protectorate. President Erdogan’s statements and actions (call it megalomania or wish to impose Pax Ottomana) do not augur well. His geopolitical ambitions for Turkey to be dominant in the region, and his islamist objectives in the region are evident and very discouraging.”