Speech of Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL, at the event “Negotiations on the Cyprus problem: the current state of affairs and perspectives”
21st October 2015, European Parliament, Brussels
On behalf of the Central Committee of AKEL permit me to welcome you all to today’s meeting. Allow me to address a special greeting to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots participating in the delegation. This big delegation of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in the European Parliament sends out the message that the struggle for the reunification of our common homeland is a cause for both communities; a cause which we decisively defend and promote, both in Cyprus and abroad. Our Party, together with the Republican Turkish Party, was always at the forefront of the common struggles of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots for the reunification of Cyprus.
Let me begin by stressing that we do not agree on all aspects of the Cyprus problem. We do have disagreements between us. Despite this we are discussing in an attempt to bridge these differences. We are discussing between us because we know that without the solution of the Cyprus problem and reunification the course of developments will be difficult for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. One is attempting to understand the main concerns of the other and find answers to them.
AKEL will continue this effort until the achievement of a solution; until the time when Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will live together again building our common future in our common homeland.
The Cyprus problem is an open wound in the body of our country. It is a wound that caused, and is still causing a great deal of pain to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The dark July in the summer of 1974 marked the lives of everyone forever. It filled Cyprus with dead, refugees, missing persons from both communities and settlers. It condemned Cypriots to endless violations of their human rights.
For AKEL, the Cyprus is primarily a problem of invasion, occupation and foreign intervention, which led to the uprooting of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots as refugees. The Cyprus problem is a problem of the violation of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey; a problem of ethnic cleansing, illegal colonization and the violation of the human rights of all Cypriots. This is the external international aspect of the Cyprus problem. The internal aspect concerns the normalization of the relations between the two communities through a state structure of bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as defined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
The Cyprus problem has been existing in this form for forty years now. The main responsibility for the creation and perpetuation of the Cyprus problem lies with Turkey. A section of the international community also bears enormous responsibilities. American and NATO imperialism, through its interventions and conspiracies, led developments to the execution of the traitorous coup d’état and the Turkish invasion in order to render Cyprus at the mercy of its plans. The Greek military junta and the local EOKA B organization, which gave Turkey the pretext it was seeking for years to invade the island, also bear responsibilities.
The international community has taken a clear position with regards the events of 1974. Through decisions approved by the UN it defined the framework of the solution of the Cyprus problem. At the same time the UN, with the consent of all, has determined the procedure of talks between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot community as the means for a solution of the internal aspects of the problem. Indeed it put this procedure under its own auspices. Since then efforts are being made to achieve a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem within the framework of the United Nations: a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution with political equality as set out by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the High-Level Agreements between the leaders of the two communities; a solution that will reunite the Cypriot state, ensuring a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship. This is the only option to avert the perpetuation of the status quo and the partition of Cyprus. A solution that will be found within the framework of the United Nations and that will reunite the territory, the people, the institutions and the economy.
An important milestone in the efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem was the proposed solution that had been put before the people of Cyprus in 2004. This proposal was rejected by the Greek Cypriot community because it was considered unfair, unbalanced and unsatisfactory as to its concerns. Since then, numerous efforts to solve the problem have been undertaken without a result. The most substantive effort was undertaken by Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat from 2008 until the beginning of 2010.
The assumption by Mr. Akinci of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community and the support rendered to him by the Republican Turkish Party and other forces within the Turkish Cypriot community has provoked optimism among the Greek Cypriot community that this time it is possible to reach the desired result. Mr. Akinci is known for his long-standing positions for a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution.
Since then till today the two leaders have managed to reach an agreement on a number of issues, given that they relied on the Christofias- Talat convergences. As AKEL, we welcome with satisfaction this development, since we believe that the Christofias-Talat convergences in their majority consist of correct, unifying and workable proposals. However, many difficult issues remain unsolved which we hope will be discussed and solved.
It is however worthwhile pointing out that what was agreed between Christofias and Talat with regards the important issues. Unfortunately the attacks waged on the convergences in the past in both communities did not give the possibility for a calm and measured dialogue to be conducted and for their worth to be properly valued. For example, the rotating Presidency proposal with a cross and weighted vote is a proposal which realizes into practice our long-standing vision to do away with the ethnic separation and for the Republic of Cyprus to function as all the modern states, that is to say, any confrontation should be transferred on to the political level.
Another example is the convergence that was achieved regarding the fundamental freedoms. It was agreed that all Cypriots should have the right to reside, work, conduct trade, pursue a profession, establish and operate businesses or engage in any economic activity anywhere on the island with absolutely no restrictions whatsoever.
On the property issue, it was recognized that the properties belong to their lawful owners that the three well-known basic therapies (restoration, compensation and exchanges) will exist, that there will be restoration criteria and an independent property committee composed of an equal number of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who will decide no matter where disagreements arise. These are all issues relating to the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem.
It goes without saying that the issues relating to the international aspect of the Cyprus problem will be discussed at an international conference. Our own objective is that the two leaders should reach an agreement as soon as possible on the issues relating to the internal aspects, so that they begin the discussion on the international aspects and thus an important step towards the solution would be taken.
The more the years go by, the more various voices are being heard in both communities openly arguing that even if the Cyprus problem weren’t to be solved this shouldn’t worry us. This is a very dangerous position that will legalize the crime that was committed against us four decades ago. The enemies of Cyprus wanted its partition. Today they appear as more patriotic than us, the ones who support precisely the same thing. AKEL will never accept this.
The current situation is a time bomb placed in the foundations of our country. Turkey maintains an army of occupation in Cyprus whose capacity exceeds 40,000 troops. Its military presence provides it with the power to exercise control in the Turkish Cypriot community. The mass and uncontrolled colonization threatens the identity and survival of all in the land that gave birth to us. How can this problem therefore be solved? It can only be solved by reversing the partitionist status quo and through the solution of the Cyprus problem, with a solution accepted by both communities that will lead to a permanent and lasting peace; that will reunite the island on the basis of the agreed framework and create conditions for progress and growth, prosperity for all. This is, and must remain, the common goal of the struggle of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Of course things are not easy, neither on the domestic front of Cyprus, nor in the wider region. Our country is at the heart of antagonisms and no one should have any illusions that nothing is going to affect us. This is the reason why we must not be complacent and reconcile ourselves day by day with the partitionist status quo. This is the reason why we, namely the forces that are struggling for the reunification of Cyprus, must be the first to unite our voices.
Let me, since many and various forces and circles, either finding or inventing excuses to attack the efforts for a solution of the Cyprus problem, reiterate the following: things are not easy, they never were. However, now is the time to say things as they really are – either the Cyprus problem is solved with an honourable compromise that will reunify our country and people, or we will open the door to the nightmare of partition. Either we will vindicate the common struggles we, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, waged for us to become the masters in our homeland, or we will either give away half of our country and pledge the other half to foreign interests.
In recent years AKEL has come under levelling destructive attacks from many forces and circles, aiming to discredit it, to render useless the positions it advocated and the convergences agreed by D. Christofias and M.A. Talat.
We managed to resist and endure the political cost of these attacks. We managed not to retreat from our positions, not out of any obstinacy, nor “obsession” as certain forces and circles like to accuse us of. We managed to resist and endure because at the heart of the positions and proposals that were submitted is the timeless truth that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have served with their struggles and sacrifices over decades: A Cyprus that will belong to its people, a people who will live together and not side by side. This is our vision for Cyprus. This is the vision we serve, we believe in and that we assert.
We recognize over time the political equality of Turkish Cypriots and its historical gravity. We have also promoted it in practice actively through our positions and proposals, precisely because we understand the need of the Turkish Cypriot community for political equality; a need which stems from the history of Cyprus itself. At the same time, we focus our attention on all those issues that truly threaten the future of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus: the policies of incorporation and assimilation being implemented by Ankara against the Turkish Cypriot community. This is precisely the reason why we do not forget to continuously stress the great efforts undertaken by the Turkish Cypriot progressive forces to protect the Turkish Cypriot community, its identity and character.
As AKEL, we consider the progressive Turkish Cypriot movement our natural ally. The Turkish Cypriot’s agony is also our own agony. We are a voice that is shouting and struggling for all of Cyprus. We do not see the cause of Cyprus and its future as a narrow-minded communal affair. That is the reason why we insist, and will continue to insist that the Turkish Cypriot, as well as the Greek Cypriot community, will do away with once and for all anything that threatens their survival only when they manage to live together within the framework of a federation; only when they once again begin to lay the foundations of the common life, common social and political action. Besides, this is the reason why we have always perceived federation not as a Greek Cypriot pedestal of power, but instead as an arena of creative cooperation between equal partners and compatriots. Under a reunified state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, that will ensure that the two communities would live together and cooperate in a united and independent homeland. This of course does not mean that the historical relations of the two communities with Greece and Turkey are erased. However, this means that our people, all Cypriots, can succeed without any guardians; that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will at last have been emancipated and will be able work together for their common future.
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