The President of Cyprus briefed UN Secretary General, the “P-5” and world leaders and calls on the Turkish side to change course
United Nations.- by Apostolis Zoupaniotis
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias ended his visit in New York, where he attended the 64th Synod of the U.N. General Assembly, sending a crystal clear message to both the international community and the Turkish side, of his intensions for a speedy solutions, under the condition the other side abandons its maximal positions that lead to confederation.
On Friday, during a working lunch with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the positions of the Greek Cypriot side and his assessment about the first round of the UN-led direct talks aiming to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
President Christofias stressed that the UN’s mission is the implementation of the organization’s resolutions and noted that the UN officials have to work on this basis.
The president was referring to positions taken and comments made by Undersecretary General B Lynn Pascoe and Senior Advisor Alexander Downer, as internal UN documents showed.
President also made clear that there can be no tight and suffocating timetables and arbitration.
Referring to statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials about the milestone of December (when Turkey’s EU course will be assessed) and April (when so-called presidential elections will take place in Cyprus’ occupied areas), he explained that he has no rejections of solving the Cyprus problem earlier than December.
“But, as I continuously underline to Mr Talat the one who is need of this milestone has to put on the negotiating table rational positions, which our side can discuss creatively and effectively,” he added.
President Christofias reaffirmed his commitment for a settlement. “It is not only Talat who needs a solution. We are anxious about the solution of the Cyprus problem, because it is our country that is under occupation, because it is our country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty that are violated by Turkey, in contradiction to UN resolutions. It is our compatriots who are refugees in their own country, including myself. We are anxious because of the presence of more than 160.000 settlers in Cyprus,” he said
He noted that joint action with the T/c leader is needed on the basis of the common Cypriot ownership of the negotiations, ”so that we will speak the same Cypriot language, to oblige the foreigners to respect at the end of the day all the people in Cyprus and both communities, and reconsider their stance about the settlement,” President Christofias said.
Answering a question about a statement by a UN spokesman who said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed the importance of political compromise in Cyprus to search for a middle ground, in efforts to find a negotiated settlement, Christofias said that there has been a clarification on behalf of the organization, according to which the UN referred to a middle ground regarding the determination of the two sides for a solution and the creativity of their positions.
According to government sources, President Christofias told the “P-5” that any effort to blackmail our side with a possible withdrawal of UNFICYP will backfire.
In a press conference at the UN headquarters, President Christofias proffered again his hand to Ankara for a direct dialogue, requesting on Turkey’s part to give Varosha to the United Nations Administration as a gesture of good will.
President Demetris Christofias has also reiterated that he will not accept strict timetables and arbitration.
Commenting on Turkish Prime Minister’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan statement at the UN General Assembly, he expressed disappointment, noting that “this is the position of the National Security Council of Turkey” and expressed hope that Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul will make second thoughts on the issue.
President Christofias said that he had requested an opportunity to enter a dialogue with them, saying that “I understand that they have their own positions on the Republic of Cyprus, but they must proceed beyond that”.
He noted that “the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus is a progressive step forward, by a country which is approaching the united Europe with the aim to become a full member”.
He stressed that “Cyprus supports Turkey’s accession to the EU”, but clarified that this support does not constitute a carte blanche. He added that “Turkey must respect Cyprus as an independent state and restore relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
Asked how many more meetings are needed to solve the Cyprus problem, President Christofias replied: “maybe 40 more, maybe 80, as many as needed to solve the problem”.
He went on to say that ”but we do not intend to resign. This is my position and I am sure Mehmet Ali Talat’s position as well. We want a speedy solution as soon as possible and I mean it”.
Referring to the strict timetables and arbitration, President Chrtistifias underlined that “there are bitter experiences of the past”.
Moreover, he expressed regret that during a conversation he had with the Turkish Prime Minister, the latest had told him that the issue of the settlers had been resolved by becoming “citizens” of the pseudo-state in northern Cyprus.
He noted that “with such positions, even if we meet a thousand times, we will never reach a solution”.
He also said that as soon as he had assumed the presidency he made some “generous offers” to the Turkish Cypriots.
He clarified that “we would not make any other concessions without response from the Turkish Cypriot side”.
Referring to the issue of arbitration, he said that “it was a major mistake to accept arbitration in 2004”, noting that “the imposition of a solution is not accepted”.
President Christofias said that the outcome of the arbitration “would be a solution which would be imposed from outside and this is not effective”.
He reiterated that the solution must be by the Cypriots, for the Cypriots, otherwise, he pointed out, the solution will be neither viable nor functional.
In addition, he called on the Turkish Cypriot leader to understand that there could not be any arbitration.
President Christofias said that “to take extreme positions beyond the Annan plan, which was rejected by the 76% of the Greek Cypriots, hoping that some people from outside will come to limit the differences is not productive”, adding that “we need to become productive to find a solution together, rather than waiting for it from the outside”.
He described Turkey as the key for the solution of the problem, noting that both he and Talat must call Turkey to help by ending its occupation and withdrawing its troops out of Cyprus.
“Turkey is the key to the solution”, he concluded.
WITH S.G. BAN
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had a sincere, friendly and in depth discussion on developments in the Cyprus issue and its outlook.
During their half-hour meeting in the presence of Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou, United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe and UN officials, President Christofias underlined that the Greek Cypriot side wants a solution sooner than anyone else, however it will not accept artificial and strict deadlines and mediation.
“Today I had the chance to underline this with the Secretary General and the permanent five”, the Cypriot president said on Wednesday.
President Christofias added that during a lunch hosted by the UN chief, he had the chance to have a good discussion with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan, to whom he underlined that Turkey is the key to a solution to the Cyprus issue.
“I told the UN, just as I told Mr. Erdogan, that Turkey is the key to a solution to the Cyprus issue. And that Talat must be helped by Turkey to change his stance. I analysed our positions on the property issue, where there is a difference of views, the positions on the settlers issue, security and governance. And I clearly stated that I have made offers to the Turkish Cypriot community and I am waiting for their response”, the Cypriot leader said.
President Christofias also raised the issue of the attitude of certain UN envoys, noting they have a responsibility to defend and implement UN resolutions.
“I spoke about this, noting and stressing that UN people have a major responsibility to defend and implement UN resolutions. I think my statement is clear”, the President remarked.