President calls on Erdogan to work together guided by vision of peace

Cyprus President, Nikos Christodoulides has invited Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan to work together, guided by a vision of peace, and to build a brighter future for their countries, through dialogue, and respect for international legality.

Addressing the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on 20 September, Christodoulides stressed that “working towards peace in Cyprus is my absolute priority, and I want to take this opportunity to also send a personal message to President Erdogan.”

“There is not, and there will never be another basis for settlement of the Cyprus question other than that dictated by the United Nations Security Council resolutions. Dear Mr. Erdogan, illegality stemming from invasion, aggression, and use of force cannot be recognised,” he added.

Christodoulides stressed that “as the Security Council has resolved, it is high time for the UN to become a driving force of dialogue, by appointing, as a first step, an envoy on the Cyprus problem, to explore and prepare the ground for the resumption of negotiations.”

He assured that he stands ready “to negotiate boldly and courageously on the Cyprus question, in good faith, always within the agreed UN framework and in full respect of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions that call for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.”

Referring to Ukraine, he said that Cyprus calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities and encourages the parties to engage in constructive dialogue and negotiation. 

Stressing that the invasion of Ukraine is not the first instance that use of force was used against a sovereign nation in Europe following the Second World War, he said that "just like in Ukraine, in Cyprus the UN Charter and international law continue to be violated".

He recalled that in 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus, and since then, 49 years on, it occupies European territory, and its people – Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – continue to suffer the consequences of invasion, occupation, division. They are deprived of fundamental freedoms and human rights, as he pointed out.

Europe, he said, which decades ago witnessed the worst horrors humankind has ever committed against itself, remains fractured as long as Cyprus is divided.

He said that being born in 1973, only a few months before Turkey invaded Cyprus, he had witnessed the people of Cyprus mourn, persevere, rebuild, forever with a burning desire for peace and reunification.

"The invasion violently displaced hundreds of thousands of Cypriots, and Turkey continues to occupy approximately 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus. The families of missing persons desperately await information on the fate of their loved ones. The enclaved stoically await the end of division".

One of the lessons, he added, we are reminded of by the recent invasion of Ukraine is that "in the absence of lasting, viable peace, the resulting fragility can lead to destabilisation, with far reaching consequences, not just for the country concerned, but for the region to which it belongs, and for the world at large"

He noted that in the absence of a peace path and process in Cyprus, there is a serious risk – and one that we have seen materialise in the recent past - of further violations of international law, which create instability, and with ramifications well beyond Cyprus.

Furthermore, he said that "we have witnessed the Turkish military forces perpetrate further violations in Varosha, the fenced area of Famagusta. Since 1974 Varosha has been held hostage and rendered a ghost town, contrary to UN Security Council Resolutions that call for its return to its lawful inhabitants, who left their livelihoods, their dreams and hopes between those fences".

We have witnessed it, he went on to say, in our maritime zones, and we have witnessed it most recently in the buffer zone, where attacks on UN peacekeepers by Turkish forces horrified and alerted us once again to the urgency of peace in Cyprus.

The President said that that is why the resumption of negotiations, firmly anchored on the agreed framework, is his absolute priority. The current status quo cannot be the future of Cyprus, it cannot be the future for Cypriots, he underlined.

"As President of Cyprus, I believe in peaceful coexistence because, despite growing up in a divided country, I also grew up in a country filled with hope of reunification, with stories of all Cypriots living together in peace, united by the land they shared", he stressed. 

Noting that the new generation of Cypriots is also eager for peace, he said that ahead of his journey to New York, he received a plethora of messages from the Turkish Cypriot compatriots, particularly from the younger generation, calling him to exert every effort to reunify Cyprus.

The President conveyed a message to his Turkish Cypriot compatriots and all Cypriots.

"My message from this podium to my Turkish Cypriot compatriots, to all Cypriots, is that I hear their call for peace, I understand their concerns and I assure them that I will spare no effort to make our common dream of reunification and peace on our island a reality. And I want to be able to tell them that the world, the United Nations, the living words of the UN Charter, also hear their call for peace".

The President said that standing before the General Assembly for the first time, he is fully aware of the responsibility that has been bestowed upon him, to do his utmost to safeguard the future of the Cypriot people – Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike – who want to end the division of their country, to co-exist and to co-create.

"Working towards peace in Cyprus is my absolute priority, and I want to take this opportunity to also send a personal message to President Erdogan" he underlined. 

In his personal message to the Turkish President he stressed that "there is not, and there will never be another basis for settlement of the Cyprus question other than that dictated by the United Nations Security Council resolutions. Illegality stemming from invasion, aggression and use of force cannot be recognised."

Cyprus and Turkey, he added, are neighbours, bound by geography, peace in Cyprus will not only send a resounding message of peace in a region and a world that desperately needs it.

"It will also change the geopolitical map of our neighbourhood, with a ripple effect in Europe, the wider Eastern Mediterranean, and throughout EU-Turkey relations. Gunboat diplomacy and strong-arm tactics belong to the past. They are not the tools of visionary leaders. This is our time to bring the UN Charter to life, a Charter for peace between and among us."

No one stands to gain from conflict and division, President Christodoulides underscored.

"We, and the generations that will come after us, stand to gain from dialogue, from good neighbourly relations. Mr. Erdogan, let us work together, guided by a vision of peace. Let us build a brighter future for our countries, through dialogue, and respect of international legality" he said in his message to the Turkish President. 

The President of Cyprus said that he stands ready to negotiate boldly and courageously on the Cyprus question, in good faith, always within the agreed UN framework and in full respect of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions that call for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

"At a time when international legality is under attack, international law, the UN Security Council Resolutions must prevail" he stressed.

He expressed his commitment to negotiating a settlement that will safeguard the fundamental freedoms and human rights, the interests of all my Cypriots compatriots – Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins - all equal, a comprehensive settlement that will allow them to prosper in coexistence and peace, free of anachronistic dependencies and system of guarantees that have no place in a European country.

That is why, he pointed out, resumption of peace negotiations based on the agreed framework, preserving the acquis of the previous round of negotiations, is essential.

Moreover, he noted that as the Security Council has resolved, it is high time for the UN to become a driving force of dialogue, by appointing, as a first step, an envoy on the Cyprus problem, to explore and prepare the ground for the resumption of negotiations.

The United Nations and its Secretary General, President Christodoulides added, have the responsibility, prescribed in the UN Charter, to act as catalysts for peace in Cyprus.

In doing so, he went on to say, it can be facilitated by the European Union, which also has the tools necessary and which has expressed its commitment to deliver, so as to reunify its last divided member state.

"Just like the United Nations, the European Union is also a project of peace. The Union can and must act decisively, with all means at its disposal to drive reunification of its last divided member state, and in doing so contribute to peace in Europe, the wider Middle East, and indeed the world", the Cypriot President said.

The President also referred to climate change. 

He said that the Eastern Mediterranean, is especially vulnerable in this regard, noting that to this end, Cyprus is actively participating in a new international Climate Change Initiative to address the specific needs and challenges countries are facing in the neighborhood to advance mitigation actions.

Moreover, he said that the international human rights agenda is a priority policy for Cyprus, and it is for this reason, with a particular sense of duty and responsibility, that it announced its candidacy for the Human Rights Council for the period 2025-2027.

Referring to the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider Middle East, he said that they can become a hub of stability, peace, and cooperation, an exemplar of the change capable in the 21st century.

Cyprus, he added, seeks to act as a facilitator for this common vision and has come together with its immediate neighbours – Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Greece – to build a solid network of cooperation that is underpinned by a vision to make the Mediterranean a sea of peace, cooperation, and prosperity.

"We shall continue on this path of multilateralism anchored on respect for international legality, and we call on all countries of the region that share these values to join us", he concluded.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

(Source: CNA)

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