Reaching a Cyprus settlement and consolidating respect towards international law on the part of Turkey are the two most important challenges Greece and Cyprus are facing in the Eastern Mediterranean, the new Ambassador of Greece to Cyprus, Theocharis Lalacos, said on Friday.
He was speaking during an official ceremony, at the Presidential Palace, in Nicosia, presenting his credentials to the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. In his address, the Ambassador said that the most important challenge remains that of a Cyprus settlement and of the termination of the occupation of part of Cyprus by Turkey. He added that Turkey is reluctant to enter into an honest and constructive dialogue to reach a viable and functioning settlement.
“The Cyprus issue is first and foremost an issue arising from [Turkey’s] invasion and occupation” of Cyprus, the Ambassador said, adding that there can be no settlement without the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops and the termination of the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights.
He also said that Athens aims at reversing the consequences of Turkey’s invasion and occupation, while reaching a settlement that is based on UN resolutions and the EU acquis, in order for security, peace and prosperity to prevail on the island.
This is why Greece supports the efforts for the resumption of talks under the auspices of the United Nations, the Greek Ambassador noted. He said, however, that these efforts are undermined by Turkey, which inserts new illegal preconditions and insists on tactics that escalate tension, either in the Cypriot maritime zones, the buffer zone or in Varosha, the fenced-off part of Famagusta.
He assured, moreover, that Greece remains committed to determining the fate off all missing persons in Cyprus.
“Greece remains committed to determining the fate off all missing persons in Cyprus.”
Referring to the second challenge Greece and Cyprus are facing, Ambassador Lalacos said that Turkey should realize that no one is entitled to repeatedly violate international law, make use of force or threaten to use force and demand that the Republic of Cyprus relinquishes it sovereign rights, including those arising from the Law of the Sea. Greece will continue to insist that international law is fully respected, he added.
The Ambassador said moreover that Greece and Cyprus may address these challenges by continuing their coordination, on a bilateral level and in the EU, as well as through their regional cooperation and the trilateral cooperation schemes.
While receiving the Ambassador’s credentials, the President of Cyprus expressed the gratitude of the government of Cyprus and of all Greek Cypriots for the continuous support of Greece towards efforts for a viable and functioning settlement of the Cyprus problem.
He assured, moreover, the Ambassador that from his part and despite the difficulties with Turkey “we will continue to strive for the termination of the unacceptable situation, for the restoration of peace in Cyprus and for a harmonious coexistence of all legal residents.”
“We will continue to strive for the restoration of peace in Cyprus and for a harmonious coexistence of all legal residents.”
President Anastasiades said that in light of the new active involvement of the UN Secretary-General, he continues with determination the efforts to create the necessary conditions that will allow the resumption of talks.
He referred to the prospects following the informal trilateral meeting, held on November 25, 2019, in Berlin, and expressed hope that the Turkish side will display the same determination and constructive stance as the Greek Cypriot side, in order to reach the desired result.
It is necessary for Turkey to cease any excessive claims against the Greek Cypriot side and terminate immediately the continuous provocations and unlawful actions on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and in its maritime zones, the President went on.
He also said that given the volatility and multiple challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and Greece have the political will to promote peace and stability in the region by enhancing regional stability through their trilateral cooperation mechanisms, with the participation of neighboring countries.
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.