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The responsibilies of Turkey against Cyprus for the tragedy of 1974 are heavy

Speech by the President of the Cyprus Republic, Mr Demetris Christofias, at the Hellenic Parliament, 23 november 2010

I consider it an utmost honour to have today the privilege of addressing the Hellenic Parliament. The Parliament that voices the Greek people in the most genuine way. I wholeheartedly thank you for your decision to celebrate together, with this Special Session, the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus. The presence among us of the Head of the Greek state, His Excellency President Karolos Papoulias, encourages us and is a special honour for Cyprus, our people and me personally.

Mr President, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I warmly thank the Prime Minister and President of the governing party, the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Heads of parliamentary parties for their presence. Through the Hellenic Parliament I address the entire Greek people and convey to them the warmest fraternal greetings from Cyprus and our people.

Cyprus and Greece are connected with imperishable fraternal bonds that go way back in centuries. Common bonds, common history, common civilization, common fights, common sacrifices for the highest ideals.

I convey the sincere gratitude of the Cyprus people to the Government, to the political world and the people of Greece for their firm and comprehensive support in the case of Cyprus. During the 36 years that the most recent ordeal of Cyprus endures, democratic Greece – leadership and people – have always been the most sound, reliable and consistent support of Cyprus in its struggle for freedom and vindication. Had it not been for the support of Greece, the Republic of Cyprus could not have survived. Had it not been for the help and strong support of Greece, Government and Parliament, Cyprus could not have joined the European Union.

It is a great pleasure to ascertain the excellent relations, cooperation and coordination between Athens and Nicosia. I assure you that as far it depends on the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and me personally we will continue working consciously and responsibly to keep enhancing our relations and our cooperation in all areas.

Both Greece and Cyprus are members of the European Union. Within this framework the prospects of cooperation and coordination are being improved to a great extent to the benefit of our peoples and also, I believe, to the benefit of European peoples.

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,

Geography has endowed our country with an enviable position between Europe, Asia and Africa. Cyprus, since the dawn of its history, found itself at a crossroads of peoples and civilizations. On our island the great civilizations of the Aegean Sea, Asia Minor, Middle East and Egypt crossed paths. Cyprus became a bridge of communication and interaction of these civilizations. On our island the ancient gods of the East and the West were worshipped. From our island Christianity set off on its admirable course in the world. On our island the tuneful prayers of the muezzins were and still are heard together with the sound of bells and Byzantine hymns.

Cypriots, since ancient times and throughout all their historic course afterwards, were good recipients of the influences by neighbouring peoples and civilizations which were implanted in and enriched their own special culture. Cypriots learned to creatively assimilate and remould foreign influences, so that today we feel proud of our really rich cultural heritage.

Since the Achaean age and the time of the Trojan war the nature of the Cypriot civilization is basically Greek and the great majority of the island’s population is also Greek. However, another characteristic element, from ancient times until this day, is the coexistence in our country of different ethnicities, each of which had and has its own significant contribution to the shaping of what is defined as Cypriot people and Cypriot culture. Our greatest wealth lies exactly in the multiculturalism of Cyprus.

It is clear that geography has blessed our island. At the same time, though, it was the reason of its misfortune. Many wanted to acquire the advantages of its strategic position and exploit its natural resources. It became the "apple of discord" between neighbouring, and not only, powerful states. This fact brought to Cyprus conquerors from all over the world. Conquerors who succeeded each other by fighting each other to conquer Cyprus. Conquerors who kept Cypriots under occupation for centuries.

The misfortune of Cyprus continued and was indeed intensified during the recent times of colonialist empires. The last conqueror of Cyprus was Great Britain which succeeded the Ottomans.

The great challenge we have to face as a country and as a people is to utilize the blessing of geography and prevent foreign centers from utilizing it against our people. A difficult challenge, if we consider that Cyprus, even today, at the beginning of the 21st century, is again under Turkish occupation which brought about the facto division.

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,

This year we celebrate the 50 years of the independence of Cyprus. We have achieved our independence and the release from the colonialist yoke through struggles and sacrifices by the Cyprus people which lasted for decades. Allow me, also from the podium of the Hellenic Parliament, to pay tribute to those who fought, and many of them sacrificed their lives, in order for Cyprus to obtain its freedom, and later to defend its independence. The same due tribute belongs also to the fighters and heroes of democracy who fought against fascism.

I consider it my obligation to make special mention to the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, who spent all of his life fighting for the freedom and independence of Cyprus and for the protection of democracy in our country.

The course towards independence, the building of a new state, the painful adventures which marked the Republic of Cyprus since its first steps and culminated in the fascist coup and the Turkish invasion of 1974 have taught us a lot, or - to be more accurate - should have taught us a lot. I say that we should have been taught a lot because if one studies certain attitudes, behaviours and perceptions, one can easily conclude that, from time to time, we unfortunately repeat our bad self.

The presence of ‘Chrysi Avgi’ and other groups with the same or similar catastrophic, in essence, fascist philosophy and mentalities in Cyprus is a proof of that. Every democrat feels resentment and repulsion seeing, on the Internet, an unregretted grandfather teach his three-year old grandson the ‘Long live the Junta’ slogan in front of the framed escutcheon of the fascist Junta hanging on the wall, seeing the child holding a pistol and being taught that with this he will kill the Turks and the communists.

The independence was an achievement for the entire of our people, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins, even though the colonialism left behind a heavy legacy, the British, and, what’s more, sovereign, bases as well as many divisive clauses in the Constitution and in the London-Zurich Agreements in general. However, independence was a big and qualitative step forward because it ended centuries of slavery and created prospects for progress, prosperity and welfare. Unfortunately these prospects, half a century later, still seek for paths and ways to fully unfold their potential.

Geography continued to play games also in the times that followed the independence. Many people plotted against the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country. Foreign imperialistic geostrategic interests met with the expansionist aims of Turkey and led Cyprus to new sufferings and adventures.

However, as Cypriots, we made mistakes which facilitated the plans of foreigners. We did not care for, we did not embrace Cyprus independence as much as we should. Certain members of the Greek Cypriot community, even after 1960, remained attached to the Enossis vision, while extremists prevailed in the Turkish Cypriot community, who continued to work for partition.

As Greek Cypriots, we many times followed our heart rather than our mind. We did not evaluate as we should the actual facts in Cyprus and our region. We pursued the desirable but unachievable and incriminated the achievable as treason. We did not give the required attention to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, to their concerns and their special interests. After the intercommunal conflicts of 1963, Turkish Cypriot chauvinists led the community to the arms of the reactionary Establishments of Turkey and withdrew from the participatory governance institutions of the newly established bicommunal Republic of Cyprus.

As time passed by, we, Greek Cypriots, got used, to a great extent, to regard Cyprus as a second Greek state. A tendency that, unfortunately, continues to exist even today and, what’s more, in conditions of occupation and de facto partition. We did not resist, as much as we should and as much as it was required, the temptation of high-sounding but unrealistic slogans.

The overthrow of democracy in Greece was also catastrophic for Cyprus. The Junta, serving foreign interests, acted with no inhibitions or national dignity. It systematically undermined President Makarios and the Republic of Cyprus. It worked for the betrayal of Cyprus.

Having the full support of Junta, extremist fascist groups - with the most important of them being Griva’s EOKA B’ - took action in Cyprus. The agenda of their criminal activity included exploitation of patriotism, talking about Enossis, big fancy words, nationalism, chauvinism and anti-communism. And, of course, they did not confine themselves to words. They created an intolerable situation which they finally invoked in order to climax the treason with Junta’s and EOKA B’s coup d’état. Democratic forces, clustered around President Makarios, gave a battle for years, a battle which they finally lost.

Turkey, which was lying in ambush, utilized the golden opportunity offered by Junta and its agents in Cyprus and invaded militarily our country scattering death and destruction. Thirty six years later we are still burying the bones of our dead. The list of the missing is shrinking but the list of the dead of 1974 is expanding.

The responsibilies of Turkey and those who conspired against Cyprus for the tragedy of 1974 are heavy. The great responsibility of Junta and its agents in Cyprus lies in the fact that through their treason they gave the chance for the foreign plans against Cyprus to be implemented. This truth is painful but it must be said: Without the coup the destiny of Cyprus would have been definitely different.

The invasion of Attila had as a result displacement, ethnic cleansing, destruction of our cultural heritage, mass settlement. Turkey imposed on the ground the de facto division of Cyprus. On 15 November 1983 the pseudostate was declared in the occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus. The declaration of the pseudostate was condemned by the international community which asked for its revocation. The pseudostate was recognized by Turkey only. However, that secessionist act and the continuous efforts for an international recognition or acceptance of the pseudostate, as well as the faits accomplis on the ground, complicate the Cyprus problem even more and make its resolution even more difficult.

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,

The solution of the Cyprus problem is long delayed. So long that the Turkish Cypriots, supported by Turkey, have got used to the support and the function of the pseudostate institutions. Certain members of the international community express their discontent, sending the message that they have got tired of dealing with the Cyprus problem. Those who adopt this position must ask themselves if they did what they had to in order to contribute to the achievement of a solution. The people of Cyprus is in urgent need of a solution. Because it is our country which is under occupation and it is our human rights which are violated for 36 years now. It is our future which is at stake. And I do not refer only to the Greek Cypriots but also to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots.

The Cyprus problem will be solved when Turkey decides at last to comply with the United Nations Resolutions, with the International and European Law. Those in the international community who express their discontent because the Cyprus problem is not settled yet, including our partners in the European Union, should turn to Turkey and exert their influence and pressure in order for the Turkish policy to change and the road to the solution to open. Instead, they show tolerance towards the occupying force, they encourage and support the irrational positions of the Turkish side and they try to exert pressure on the Greek Cypriot side. They should know that we are not a good recipient of pressures. Pressures make us stubborn, because they aim to bless the injustice. The respect for the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus as well as for the international law principles and the Security Council and the United Nations’ General Assembly Resolutions will turn the concern in the right direction and this will be helpful to our tireless efforts for solution and reunification.

From the first moment that our people gave us the mandate to handle the Cyprus problem on its behalf we worked systematically to revive the dialogue process for solution and reunification. Having in mind the painful 2004 experience we secured right from the start and agreed with the United Nations as well as with the Turkish Cypriot leadership that the process will be Cypriot-owned, that there would not be suffocating timetables, neither place for arbitration, and the United Nations will have an assisting role. We also agreed with the then leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mr Talat, that the solution will be a solution of a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality as defined in the United Nations Resolutions. It would be a solution of a state with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and citizenship.

The solution cannot but include compromise, a compromise with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, not with the occupation. At the same time the solution must provide for the removal of the occupying troops, the termination of any foreign dependence, the restoration of the unity of the state, the institutions, the economy and the people as well as for the safeguarding of the human rights and basic principles of all the Cypriots. Without these elements a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem cannot exist.

Based on this framework the direct talks are carried out for two years now under the auspices of the Secretary General of the United Nations. We are not satisfied with the results so far. We expected that we would go further in these two years. However, despite this general estimation, I must say that in several aspects of the Cyprus problem such as the governance, the economy and the relations with the European Union, an important progress has been achieved. On the other hand, we must also note that in a number of other very important aspects of the problem such as the issue of property, of territorial adjustments, the issue of citizenship, immigration, asylum and aliens, which includes the settlers, the issue of guarantees and security, there is a great divergence of views between the two sides. This is the true picture of the talks.

The Turkish side states constantly that it demonstrates a positive stance in the talks and that it desires a solution by the end of the year. The criterion of truth is deed. The truth is that many of the proposals that the Turkish side, in full cooperation with Ankara, submits at the negotiating table are not consistent to the least with the Security Council Resolutions and the agreed framework. On the contrary, Ankara and the Turkish leadership promote the idea of two separate peoples and two states, with frontiers and with the majority of properties secured. Therefore certain actors in the international scene must not get carried away by the communication tactics of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaderships. The Greek Cypriot side constantly proves in deed and at the negotiating table its political will for a solution. We submit reasonable and attainable proposals, consistent with the agreed framework, the Security Council Resolutions and the International and European Law. Proposals that serve the federal solution goal. Proposals that take into consideration not only the Greek Cypriot interests, but also the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The interest of Cyprus as a whole. Proposals that serve principles but at the same time provide solutions to the problems piled up during the 36 years of occupation and division.

We are well aware that it is not enough and we don't convince anyone by stating only what we don't accept. It is not enough and we don't convince anyone by referring only to principles. It is not enough and we don’t convince anyone by accusing only the intransigence of the Turkish side. We need to submit reasonable proposals on how the principles of a solution of the Cyprus problem can be materialised and how the problems existing on the ground can be solved. This is exactly what we do! These problems are not exorcised through high sounding declarations.

Because it was indeed observed a slow down in the talks, for which the Turkish side was responsible, and because some people raised again the issue of direct trade with the occupied areas, last summer we submitted a triptych of proposals aiming at the speeding up of negotiations, the creation of a new impetus aiming at a solution as soon as possible and the countering of the problem of the relations of the Turkish Cypriots with the outside world. Let it be noted that any isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, to the extent that it exists, is exclusively due to the occupation and the illegality that accompanies it.

The triptych provides for: Firstly, the linking of the discussions on the chapters of property, territory and settlers. Secondly, the opening of the fenced city of Famagusta so that its legal inhabitants can return under the auspices of the United Nations and the opening of the port of the city under the supervision of the European Union so that Turkish Cypriots can legally conduct trade with the outside world. And thirdly, the convening of an international conference within the framework of the United Nations, in which the Republic of Cyprus will participate as well, when the negotiations will be close to an agreements.

Unfortunately, the response of the Turkish side to our proposal was negative. Generally, though, it was accepted favourably abroad. We thank Greece and the Hellenic Parliament because it provides us with unreserved support in this issue as well. We will continue to project the triptych of our proposals because we strongly believe that they can provide a way out and create prospects for positive developments.

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,

On November 18, a meeting of the leaders of the two communities with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, took place in New York after his own invitation.

During the meeting a general objective evaluation was carried out by the Secretary General on the course of the discussions. It was ascertained that on the Chapters of governance and power sharing, European issues and economy that we had discussed with Mr Talat a significant progress had been made, but also divergences were ascertained that, in certain important matters, remain grave.

During the five months of discussions with the new leader of the Turkish-Cypriots, Mr Eroglu, we are discussing the Chapter of property without any progress on substance. Due to the fact that the discussions are driven to an impasse, the Secretary General wanted this meeting to take place so as to give boost to the dialogue and to avoid the impasse in sight.

During the discussion we argued, pointing out and proving that we have kept a creative position with proposals that lay within the parameters of the UN Resolutions on Cyprus and honour our commitment for a transformation of the single Cypriot state into a bi-communal federal state with two constituent parts. In order to avoid the impasse in sight we asked for the immediate discussion of the Chapters of property, territory and the issue of settlers because they are closely and indissolubly linked.

The Turkish Cypriot side, claiming that security problems allegedly exist, counter proposed the immediate convening of a quadrilateral or five-sided conference in which all aspects of the Cyprus problem would be discussed. That is, more or less, a repetition of a Burgenstock- type proceeding.

As it was natural, we could not accept such a proposal. We repeated our clear position on the subject of an international conference. The proposal of the Turkish-Cypriot side was not even accepted by the Secretary General who stressed that it was untimely and that the time for a possible convening of an international conference as well as the issues concerning its composition should be discussed when we reach convergences on the six Chapters concerning the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem.

The Secretary General of the UN reiterated that the procedure is Cypriot-owned and Cypriot-led and that no question of arbitration or strict timetables is posed. The procedure remains the same as it was agreed upon and adopted by the Security Council and included in the terms of mandate of the Secretary General.

Mr Ban Ki-moon agreed that there is a linkage between the Chapters and invited us to an intensive dialogue with a view to reaching substantial convergences on all Chapters. He called for a new meeting for a co-evaluation of the situation at the end of January in Geneva. We willingly responded. By then we will work hard and with good will so as to have positive results which we will present to the Secretary General of the UN. Of course in order to reach progress, the good will and the response of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side is also needed.

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,

I have already outlined the content of the solution and the basic principles upon which it should be based. We work hard in all fronts, may it be the negotiations table or may it be the front of the international enlightment and mobilization so as to accomplish the solution we aim at. We utilize every opportunity. We undertake initiatives. We table proposals which can be also accepted by the Turkish Cypriot side. We are ready to move forward leaving the past behind. If we meet the necessary response by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, many will be surprised as to how ready we are for a solution. But this response, unfortunately, doesn’t exist so far.

Turkey must put the solution of the Cyprus problem in its priorities. It must prove that the problems it faces in the internal of the country do not constitute an obstacle in taking the necessary decisions for a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.

The position we hold, as Greece and Cyprus, on the accession prospects of Turkey is correct. Both as regards the Cyprus problem and the Greco-Turkish relations and as regards the Turkish people. We stand in favour of the accession of Turkey to the European Union, provided that it will meet all the obligations deriving from its accession prospect. These obligations are summarized in the implementation of the Ankara Protocol, in solving the Cyprus problem, in abandoning its aggressive behaviour towards its neighbors and in its democratization. For as long as Turkey refuses to meet these obligations, we will continue opposing its accession. And we expect that the principle of solidarity will be displayed by our partners towards Cyprus and Greece as regards the relations of the European Union with Turkey.

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,

Cyprus, although wounded by the occupation, plays a very important role at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean as a bridge between Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Cyprus’ membership in the European Union as well as the fact that it maintains excellent relations with the Arab world and all its neighbouring states increase its potential to play this role. We all can imagine how many more possibilities will unfold and how many more forces will be set free if Cyprus is spared from the occupation and regains the potential of the entire of its resources and the entire of its people. It will truly become a bridge of peace, understanding and cooperation in one of the most crucial and troubled corners of the world.

Our vision is to achieve this goal. All together, united on the basis agreed years ago in the National Council and reaffirmed in November last year, we can succeed. As long as we don't search for unity we have a serious problem. Whenever the Cypriots stood united, they created, they built on economy, on the social sector, on culture. When they stood divided they many times created self-inflicted wounds and set their great successes in doubt.

Unity between Cyprus and Greece is a fact. Unity in the internal front is what is required. Unity is essential so as to succeed in the realization of our noble vision. To liberate and reunite our country. To reunite our people. To build a peaceful and demilitarized Cyprus, a common homeland for all its children.

A land of peace and creation. A land where Xenios Zeus, Kypris Aphrodite and Apollo of Kourion will warmly welcome every foreign visitor coming for leisure or for business. This vision is not an utopia. And we will do everything for this to become a reality.

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