United Nations.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
President Demetris Christofias has said that he has asked Turkeyʼs President Abdullah Gul to assist efforts for a political settlement in Cyprus. Speaking at a press conference in New York, where he addressed on Wednesday the UN General Assembly, Christofias reiterated his will and determination for a solution to the Cyprus question the soonest possible, stressing that “the reunification of the island, the end of (Turkeyʼs) occupation and the creation of conditions of peaceful coexistence and co-living with the Turkish Cypriots is a need.”
“This is my commitment and I am going to honour this commitment hoping that Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat (the Turkish Cypriot leader) and of course Turkey will give this opportunity to us,” Christofias said.
He noted that he had the opportunity to have a brief encounter with the Turkish President, to shake hands with him and exchange a few words.
The President expressed regret that the Turkish delegation left the UN Assembly hall as he delivered his address, a practice Turkish diplomats have always applied.
Christofias said that he asked Gul to assist, “because I am sure and I told him that Turkey, and I have underlined this in my speech, could play really a decisive role in the solution of the Cyprus problem because it is Turkey which maintains 40 thousand, more than 40 thousand troops and 160 thousand or more than 160 thousand settlers in Cyprus.”
“It was a good conversation. He said that he backs the negotiations but of course this is not enough. We need positive moves from Turkey in order to create the conditions for the final solution of the problem. If we really want a solution, the solution must be based on this reality, I mean on the reality of the existence of the Republic of Cyprus and the evolution of this Republic into a bizonal, bicommunal federal state,” the Cypriot President said.
Christofias expressed the conviction that by solving the Cyprus question Turkey will rid itself from a big burden which hinders its accession course to the European Union.
He stressed that “there will be no new partnership (in Cyprus). This is the old partnership which is going to be continued under new circumstances and the evolution of the unified state into a bizonal, bicommunal federal state,” Christofias concluded.
”In Cyprus there is a partnership of two communities and one state. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and the treaties that established the Republic, Cyprus is a partnership between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. What is needed today is the evolution from a unified state to a bizonal, bicommunal federation,” he explained.
Christofias recalled that the Turkish Cypriot illegal regime in Cyprusʼ Turkish occupied areas has been declared and null and void by UN resolutions, noting that the so-called isolation of Turkish Cypriots derives from these resolutions, as no one recognises this regime.
The President opposed efforts by Turkey to gain a non permanent seat in the Security Council.
“I expect from the United Nations Security Council members and from the United Nations member states to react not positively of course. Because a country which occupies part of another UN member state for 35 years now, has no excuse of the change of the constitutional order. And there are several UN resolutions condemning the occupation of Cyprus and the violation of international law by Turkey (RES 541 and RES 550) and General Assembly resolutions as well. So that is what you should expect from our side”, he added.
Christofias explained why he stated during his GA speech that good offices is not arbitration and not mediation
“Since the very beginning I have to stress that never, not one Security Council resolution provides arbitration. Weʼve made our criticism afterwards of course because the Greek Cypriot side accepted arbitration. The role of the UN SG is a mission according to which he offers his good offices, the UN umbrella for negotiations between the two communities and of course they facilitate and we are grateful to the UN for this help and because since 1964 the UN has been taking care of Cyprus through a peacekeeping force which plays a very positive role. Yes, I consider a bitter experience the period of January-May 2004. I think that the arbitration made by the then UN SG was not balanced and satisfied demands not of the Turkish Cypriots but demands put by Turkey. The final result was a plan which could not satisfy the real needs and the interests of the Cypriots. This is why together with the new Secretary-General and the Security-Council we agreed that the mission of the UN SG does not include arbitration or mediation. It is a mission of good offices giving the opportunity under the umbrella of the UN while using the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions as a basis, to sit around the table and to find a common acceptable solution. If the solution is not a Cypriot one and itʼs coming from outside, it will lead to new differences and new disagreements. This is not a way for the solution. The Cypriots have to understand that they have the responsibility for their fate and for the fate of their children and grandchildren who are going to come. Otherwise the future will not be bright as we want it to be bright for the Cypriots and for Cyprus.”