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Cyprus President Accuses Turkey of Playing Victim in UN Address

Cyprus President
In his Friday address to the United Nations, Cypriot President Anastasiades rebutted Turkey’s repeated claims of victimhood in President Erdogan’s address to the General Assembly earlier in the week. Credit: UN Secretary-General

In a hard-hitting speech before the UN on Friday, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades accused Turkey of audaciously passing itself off as the victim regarding its history with Cyprus.

The failure to implement UN resolutions are responsible for allowing Turkey the to make itself appear as a victim “instead of the perpetrator it actually is,” according to Anastasiades in his address to the 76th General Assembly of the UN in New York.

“I stand here before you representing a country which, regrettably, still endures the consequences of the blatant violation of the fundamental principles of the United Nations, as a result of the 1974 illegal military invasion of Turkey and the ongoing occupation,” the Cypriot President charged in his remarks.

Despite the numerous numerous decisions and resolutions on the part of the United Nations calling on Turkey to end its illegal occupation and withdraw its troops which continue to occupy the northern part of the island, the situation remains at a stalemate.

“Decisions and resolutions which – in the absence of resolve and the necessary means for the implementation thereof – have led to the audacity of the invader who tries to be portrayed as a victim, instead of the perpetrator it actually is,” Anastasiades charged forcefully.

Although he did not wish to take part in a blame game, he added, he could simply not ignore “the absurdity of the Turkish rhetoric, which lies in their claim that the efforts for a compromise have been exhausted and the focus should now be on reaching a settlement based on the so-called ‘realities on the ground’.”

Anastasiades reminded the General Assembly that Turkey continues to occupy fully 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, which has been an EU member-state since 2004. As of now, there are more than 40,000 troops still deployed on the island in the uneasy truce there.

One thousand People Still Missing After Turkish Invasion

Recalling the brutality of Turkey’s 1974 invasion of the island, Anastasiades told the Assembly that one third of Greek Cypriots were forced to leave their ancestral homes at that time; at the same time, the Turkish Cypriots who owned approximately 14 per cent of the privately owned land in 1974 now “usurp 37 per cent of the island.”

The Cypriot President stated in his speech that all the crimes Turkey is responsible for committing on Cyprus have been condemned by both the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe in decision after decision; Turkey has refused to comply with even one such ruling.

“Is it not a fact,” he asked rhetorically, “that they looted churches, destroyed archaeological sites and thousands of years of cultural heritage? Is it not a fact that they have killed thousands of people and embarked on all kinds of atrocities — and still today almost  1,000 people are missing?”

Anastasiades went on to state that Turkey “established an illegal entity” in the occupied areas of the island as well, which is under its complete control, politically, economically, socially, culturally and in a religious way as well. The President also pointed out that this political entity has also been denounced by the majority of Turkish Cypriots.

The nation of Turkey, Anastasiades said, continually attempts tries to equate the internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus, which is not only a member of the UN but of the European Union as well — with the illegally-created northern regime of the island, which no nation on Earth recognizes apart from Turkey.

Erdogan’s attempt of the past several years to reopen Famagusta, even taking part in a “picnic” there this past Summer, was derided by the Cypriot President as completely counter to Security Council resolutions and all public pronouncements by members of the international community of nations.

Anastasiades, referring to Erdogan’s Thursday address to the UNGA that he hoped the problems on maritime boundaries would be resolved within the framework of international law and what he called “good neighborly relations,” said that he was unclear “as to which international law Mr. Erdogan refers.

“Is it not a fact that Turkey refuses to abide by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which codifies relevant customary international law?” he asked.

He then asked rhetorically if the Turkish president was referring to his own nation’s arbitrary interpretation of international law which decreases the exclusive maritime economic zone of Cyprus by an incredible 44%.

Regarding the so-called good neighborly relations, he went on, Anastasiades noted that it not only was it Turkey that invaded — and still occupies — Cyprus, that nation also continues to violate the sovereign rights of Greece.

Not only that, the Cypriot President stated, it also invaded Syria, and violates the sovereignty of Iraq, while interfering in the domestic politics of Libya and Azerbaijan.

He pointed out that the narrative put forward by the Turks, basically laying all of the blame on others in a failure to find a compromise and that solutions had to be found outside the UN framework, “reinforces the valid arguments that Turkey’s end game is not to solve the Cyprus Problem, but to turn Cyprus into its protectorate.”

In his angry address, Anastasiades accused Turkey of “blatant interventions” in ousting the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, with whom a Joint Understanding had been reached in November 2019 regarding the principles which should guide the resumption of a new round of negotiations on the fate of Cyprus.

These included the Joint Declaration of 2014, the agreements that had been reached up to that point, and the six-point framework presented by the UN Secretary-General at Crans Montana, Switzerland.

“The evident goal was for him to be replaced by a new leadership which reproduces and adopts Turkey’s position for changing the agreed basis for a settlement, with the ultimate goal being a two-state solution,” Anastasiades charged.

The Cypriot President noted that any compromise becomes only more difficult to reach after new ideas put forward by the Greek Cypriots, as requested by the UN Secretary-General, are blatantly rejected by the other side.

Anastasiades went on to list some of his own proposals, including the decentralization of the exercise of powers, the concept of a parliamentary system with a ceremonial head of state and rotating prime minister, and the invitation to Turkish Cypriots to rejoin the national institutions established by the 1960 Constitution.

The latter idea, Anastasiades said, was not meant to be an alternative to the settlement but would rather ease the Turkish Cypriot community back into the nation as a final settlement would be worked on.

However, this would take place provided that a strategic agreement would be reached, allowing the full participation in the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus.

Anastasiades reassured the General Assembly that he was still determined to embark once again on the negotiation process as part of the UN framework and the Berlin agreement of November 25, 2019.

This called for a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation on Cyprus, with political equality, as already set out in relevant Security Council resolutions and in line with European Union principles.

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