President of the Republic of Cyprus

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 31 January 1990

Mr President, Madam Secretary General, members of the Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me first of all to extend my sincere thanks to you, Mr President, for the invitation to speak here today. Addressing the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly – the world’s first international parliamentary body – here in the European parliamentary capital of Strasbourg, is indeed an honour for both my country and myself.

The links between Cyprus and the Council of Europe are strong and of long standing. Cyprus joined the Council in May 1961, just six months after the declaration of independence of 1960, which ended centuries of domination of the island by foreign powers. By virtue of its rich cultural and historical heritage, fundamentally rooted in classical Hellenism, and enriched by a variety of other influences, Cyprus is an integral part of Europe, being its southern outpost in the Mediterranean and its natural stepping-stone to the Middle East. Lacking experience and tradition in self-governance, the fledgling Republic naturally relied to a considerable extent on the Council of Europe for inspiration and guidance, particularly in drafting a legal framework within which the new state’s sectors and institutions could function. After 1974, in particular, the Council played a significant role in the economic survival of the Cyprus Republic, through the assistance provided by the Social Development Fund.

In the all-important realm of ideas, the links between Cyprus and the Council of Europe can be traced back many centuries, via the body of humanistic principles and ideals which the Council was set up to defend and promote. Zeno the Stoic, one of the philosophers of classical antiquity whose doctrines are most closely associated with the origins of the code of human rights which the Council stands for, was a native Of Citium in Cyprus.

I must add that in delivering this speech today, I am somewhat uncomfortably aware that the ancient Greek thinkers, whose pioneering and imaginative exploration of the realms of spiritual values and physical nature laid the foundations of modern European philosophical and scientific thought, looked down upon written speech and its derivatives, such as the set speeches of politicians. As a mode of presentation of ideas, written speech was considered much inferior to purely oral discourse. That view is most bitingly and eloquently expressed by Plato in his Dialogues.

I hope that your judgment today will be kinder than Plato’s. However, the point that the great philosopher was making was that, while the spoken word is free to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances, the written word is a dead letter and as such only an artificial substitute for living thought. This view sprang in turn from the fundamental Greek belief that laws, whether pertaining to justice, morality or religion, need not be written. They were believed to represent, not a constraint to be imposed externally, but a liberating force springing naturally from man’s true, rational self. It was no coincidence that laws and constitutions were unwritten in the early Greek states, and in large part were codified in writing only once civic life began to decay and decline.

In our century, the ravages of two successive world wars all but destroyed any faith in the ideal of a peaceful and justly ordered world as the spontaneous product of human nature. Stranded amid the social and economic destruction wrought by the second world war, humankind felt a strong need to reiterate humanity’s written codes of behaviour, regulating relations between nations and safeguarding the sorely tried rights of the individual. The need was also felt for collective bodies to promote adherence to those codes.

The Council of Europe, the first intergovernmental political organisation to emerge after the second world war, was formed in answer to that need. Its main goal was to promote the unity of warring European nations on the basis of a cornmon body of European ideals which forms the core of a European identity. The liberty, equality and dignity of human beings, and the values of a pluralist democracy, stand out among these ideals.

As President Mitterrand so aptly put it in his speech before this Assembly last May:

“Europe’s identity, what gives our continent its impact in the world, rests on the values on the basis of which the Council of Europe has developed its action (...) the freedoms, all the freedoms; human rights, all human rights.”

We were all proud to join France in paying homage to those values last year during the celebrations for the bicentenary of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

There could be no better demonstration of Europe’s common humanistic heritage than the breathtaking political changes which we are currently witnessing. Dramatic as they are, these changes are inherent in, and the natural consequence of, the humanistic principles which are the hallmark of European culture and education. Bound by the shared ideals of human rights and democratic rule, the European nations are moving towards unity under the single roof of the common European home, in which all may live in peace, mutual respect and prosperity.

Although these events have continental Europe as their epicentre, they are profoundly important for the whole of humanity. Not only have all major past wars originated in Europe, but the division of the continent following the second world war led to two sharply different approaches to all issues – political, economic, cultural or humanitarian. Most importantly, the dismantling of barriers such as the Berlin Wall, and the setting in motion of the process of democratic reform in a chain of European countries – peacefully in all except Romania – have demonstrated that even in the most seemingly rigid situation of conflict there is always room and hope for rapprochement and change for the better. This message is of particular importance and hope for Cyprus and its people, locked for a decade and half in a situation of imposed confrontation and division.

However, the current developments also have a dark side. This takes the form of the resurgence of nationalism, a force which in other eras and situations has played a constructive role in consolidating and safeguarding the rights of nations and peoples, but which today has taken on the destructive cast of chauvinism. We in Cyprus are particularly sensitive to this trend, for we have paid the price of chauvinism and know how high that price is. It is imperative that we all understand that chauvinistic nationalism is not patriotism, and that nothing good can come of seeking the prosperity and progress of one ethnic group to the detriment of another.

Extreme nationalism of this sort may be exacerbated by other problems besetting the transitional phase of reconstruction, particularly economic problems. As the Malta superpower summit confirmed, the cold war is over. A conscious effort must be made, however, if it is not to be succeeded by a hot war whose consequences would set Europe back, not years, but centuries.

I believe there is hope that we will avert the worst-case scenarios predicted by political Cassandras.

One very hopeful development is the move to establish a European bank to finance the reconstruction of Eastern Europe. However, the solution does not lie in budgetary aid alone; the • private corporate sector must supplement this assistance with direct investment, through joint ventures in particular, for only close economic co-operation at all levels can firmly cement the foundations of the common European home.

In addition to considering ways and means for co-operation and assistance in the economic field, dialogue is necessary to address future political co-operation.

We warmly support the proposal by the Soviet President, Mikhail Sergeievich Gorbachev, whose visionary metaphor of the common European home is now becoming a realistic prospect, for the holding of a “Helsinki II” conference, and hope that such a conference can be held as early as possible.

The Council of Europe, by virtue of its broad membership base, which spans the European Community and the European Free Trade Association, the neutral and non-aligned countries and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, could also provide a highly useful forum for addressing and debating the issues related to the process of European political and economic reconstruction.

The usefulness of the Council can extend even further, however. To pursue the metaphor of the common European home, in building any edifice one requires not only solid materials and skilled workmen but sound plans. There could be no better blueprint for these plans than the legal framework drafted by the Council of Europe over the years, for safeguarding the high European ideals of human dignity and democracy. Undeniably, the most important aspect of the Council’s work lies in the sphere of human rights. The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the unique mechanisms of the European Court and Commission of Human Rights represent major milestones on the road to a more just world. However, the Council has also charted important ground in a plethora of other fields – social, economic, health, labour, cultural, legal and judicial, to name but a few.

Cyprus is actively involved in European institutions. We are a longstanding member of the Council of Europe; we enjoy a Customs Union Agreement with the European Community which represents the most advanced relationship between any third country and the European Community; and we are active members of the neutral and non-aligned group of countries, which played an important role in the Vienna negotiations on security and co-operation in Europe. Cyprus is thus committed, within the limits of its abilities and resources, to contributing as much as it can to the effort to build the common European home.

For the past fifteen and a half years, the Republic of Cyprus and its people have been suffering under a situation which constitutes a gross violation of international law, as well as of all existing codes and conventions for the respect of human rights, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

This situation is the result of the military invasion of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey in 1974, using the coup staged by the Greek junta against the Cyprus Government as a pretext, and the seizure by force and occupation of approximately 40% of the Republic’s territory by the Turkish armed forces. Turkey continues to hold this territory today.

The island’s Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities remain forcibly segregated by a virtually impermeable military line which divides Cyprus in two. Greek Cypriots who were forced to flee from their homes and properties in 1974 are prevented from going back to them. In the occupied sector, there has been a concerted effort to change the demographic balance with the large-scale introduction of settlers from mainland Turkey. Cultural and religious monuments have been extensively pillaged and desecrated.

Turkey refuses to remove its troops from Cyprus despite numerous United Nations and Council of Europe resolutions calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Republic and an end to foreign interference in its affairs. Similarly, the rulings of the European Commission of Human Rights, before which Cyprus has sought recourse, that Turkey – a founding member of the Council of Europe – has violated fundamental articles of the European Convention on Human Rights in Cyprus, have fallen on deaf ears.

Here I should like to express our appreciation of the considerable amount of time and effort devoted by the Assembly to the Cyprus question. Apart from the withdrawal of Turkish troops, the Assembly’s resolutions have called for the safeguarding of the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus, and the return of refugees to their homes. There have been fact-finding missions on the refugees and missing persons, and, more recently, on the destruction of our cultural heritage. The Contact Group on Cyprus, which I am looking forward to meeting later today, has approached the problem seriously and responsibly.

I do not enumerate the findings against Turkey in order to indulge in a sterile exercise of condemning Ankara and dwelling on the past. I am a firm believer in looking towards the future, taking the past into account only to the extent necessary to avoid repeating its mistakes. Cyprus cannot move into an era of peace and justice without a conscious effort on the part of all those involved to forgive what must be forgiven, and forget what must be forgotten.

I therefore come here today not to cross swords with Turkey but to call upon it to live up to its responsibilities and obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and an aspiring member of the European Community, by working actively to help, not hinder, the effort to achieve a just and viable settlement for Cyprus.

As the Commission of the European Communities’ response to Turkey’s application for accession to the EEC has made clear, the Cyprus problem is one of the key obstacles to Turkey’s integration. Indeed, the sincerity and legitimacy of Turkey’s membership of any European organisation and institution based on respect for human rights and international law must always remain questionable as long as Cyprus continues to be partitioned and Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots forcibly segregated by the Turkish occupying forces.

It is, naturally, not for me but for the Turkish Government and people to decide what foreign policy best serves Turkey’s own interests. It is my own firm view, however, that both Turkish and European interests would be served if Turkey, having promoted a solution to the Cyprus problem based on European principles, were able to resume its proper place within the European family of nations. The benefits that Ankara would derive from such a development stand to be far greater than any imagined advantage which lies in maintaining its forces on Cypriot soil.

In this connection, I should like to reiterate my proposal for the immediate demilitarisation of Cyprus. The Cyprus Government undertakes to disband the national guard if Turkey will undertake to pull out its troops from the Republic’s territory. This will enhance the security of all parties and constitute a major step towards a settlement establishing a demilitarised federal republic in Cyprus. I also reiterate the offer to use the funds released from our disarmament for the development of Cyprus, and in particular of the Turkish-Cypriot community, which is lagging behind in the economic field.

The United Nations Secretary General has called a new meeting in New York between myself and the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community, Mr Rauf Denktash, for substantive talks with the aim of completing a draft outline agreement on a federal Cyprus settlement.

The draft outline agreement is already long overdue. The two sides had agreed to move ahead with the completion of a draft last June. To assist them, the Secretary General put forward a set of non-binding ideas. Unfortunately, Mr Denktash proceeded to reject these ideas and interrupt the talks.

Our side has promptly accepted the Secretary General’s latest invitation. Mr Denktash, however, has not yet issued a clear-cut reply. We hope the eventual response will be positive, and that, in that event, Mr Denktash will adopt a more flexible and conciliatory attitude at the talks.

Much will depend on the stand of Turkey, which has so far supported Mr Denktash’s positions. When Turkey’s President, Mr Turgut Ozal, addressed this Assembly last September, at that time in his capacity as Prime Minister, he affirmed in his speech that European nations must co-operate on the basis of a shared body of ideals and values. He went on to stress that we “should be able to communicate with each other so that disputes are resolved by peaceful means”. Mr Ozal added later in his speech that “strict adherence to the internationally accepted norms of conduct concerning respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms of the individual is the only basis on which we can build and promote stable international relations”.

I strongly second those views and say that if Mr Ozal were ready at this moment to translate his words into deeds, the Cyprus problem would find its immediate solution. I have repeatedly proposed that Mr Ozal and I meet to discuss face to face the problem of Cyprus, which is fundamentally that of the occupation of part of the Republic’s sovereign territory by Turkey. As many times the proposal has been side-stepped by Ankara, I repeat it here today. I call on Mr Ozal to sit down with me in good faith to discuss the resolution of the Cyprus problem in the new spirit of the times, and on the basis suggested by himself here only a few months ago for resolving disputes and achieving stable international relations – peacefully, and with due and full regard for human rights and international law.

A solution to the Cyprus problem is feasible. All it requires is acceptance of the basic European principles of human rights and democratic rule. At a time when Europe is making rapid strides towards integration, it is both tragic and anachronistic that in Cyprus, a member of the European family and of this Assembly, citizens should be dispossessed of their properties and face barriers to movement and settlement under a system of religious and ethnic discrimination imposed and maintained through armed force.

A viable and just Cyprus settlement cannot be based on a situation of apartheid, under which Cypriots are forcibly segregated on the grounds that Muslims and Christians, people of Turkish origin and people of Greek origin, cannot live together. Such segregation not only contradicts fundamentally Turkey’s own policy of integration with the European Community, but also constitutes a recipe for suspicion, resentment and conflict.

Long-term amity, peace and stability can only be based on a federal settlement founded on a philosophy of unity, not division.

We are committed to a united, federal Cyprus republic, consisting of two provinces, one to be administered by the Turkish-Cypriot community and the other by the Greek-Cypriot community.

This federal republic of Cyprus must be free of foreign troops and settlers, and protected against unilateral rights of intervention. Above all, it must be a haven of full respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as the security, of all Cypriots, irrespective of ethnic origin or creed.

We call on our Turkish-Cypriot compatriots to work with us to bring justice and peace to Cyprus. Our common future cannot be built on conflict and division; to be secure, it must rest on the constructive foundations of co-operation and unity. We are encouraged by recent expressions of support for a federal settlement by those Turkish-Cypriot political forces which we believe represent majority opinion within the Turkish-Cypriot community, as well as by the increased contacts between ordinary Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in recent months in the new spirit of rapprochement. We add our voice to theirs, stressing that, as Cypriots sharing a common homeland, we have more common bonds than differences. By working together to develop the considerable economic potential of Cyprus, we can achieve security and prosperity for ourselves and our children.

We are firm in our commitment never to accept the status quo, which goes against every ideal and principle which this Assembly and the Council of Europe stand for. More than that, the principle at stake in Cyprus is of enormous significance not only in terms of the political future of the island, but in terms of the future shape of Europe and the world.

What stands to be decided in Cyprus is whether states made up of more than one community can survive as unified entities within secure boundaries, or whether they must fragment, with each ethnic community claiming the right to secede and form its own separate state, on the ground that that is the only way to safeguard its interests. We strongly believe that if the latter formula were to be applied, it would spell the end of Europe and the world as we know it today.

I have spoken about the Cyprus situation at some length, trying at the same time to show that it is relevant not only to the Cypriots but to the entire international community. This does not mean, however, that we in Cyprus are introspectively wrapped up in our problem alone. As I said at the beginning of my address, Cyprus is an integral part of Europe. As Europeans and as Cypriots, we feel strongly that it is incumbent on us, along with the other members of the Council of Europe, to do what we can to contain the dangers and reinforce the positive aspects of the political changes currently under way. We do not yet know precisely when and how we will arrive at the European confederation envisaged by President Mitterrand. What we do know, however, is that it is imperative to fight back the destructive forces of chauvinism and nationalistic strife and strive actively for integration and co-operation. It is up to us all to assume our share of responsibility in this endeavour for the common future of humanity – for a new Europe, and a new world.


Thank you for a very interesting speech, Mr President, and for the support that you have given the Council of Europe. You lived for ten years in Hungary, and among the many languages at your command is Hungarian. You were in Hungary in 1956 and lived through the Hungarian uprising, so you have seen what has happened in Eastern Europe. You were present at that historic event. Therefore, we were very interested to hear your views of the European confederation and the role of the Council of Europe in this respect. Once again, thank you very much.

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

Thank you for your kind words and for giving me this opportunity to express my personal views on the prospects for a European confederation. Not only do I fully support President Mitterrand’s proposal that we should look forward to the establishment of a European confederation but I believe there is a vital need for such an institution. That need arises from the fact that the revolutionary changes in Eastern Europe have created a political vacuum. The only body within which problems relating to European co-operation can be discussed – not problems of general world interest, which are discussed in the United Nations – is the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, which should deal only with problems of security. There is nothing else.

But fortunately for us all, we have the Council of Europe. I am sure that when it was established the moment was not foreseen when it could act as the link between East and West. But, today, it is able to do just that. I personally believe that it is imperative in this new climate to create a new forum in which all European nations can sit down, exchange ideas, discuss the problems, and try to find ways by which they can learn from each other’s experience and then apply what they decide in their own countries of their own free will, not as a result of imposition from outside.

We need a European confederation because many East European countries are part of a greater European family. In that sense, Mr Gorbachev’s idea of a common European home and President Mitterrand’s proposal for a European confederation are not conflicting ideas. On the contrary, the one could be conceived as a development of the other. We need to feel that we belong to the same group and we must develop links among countries. A European confederation would provide the forum for those links.

As the world stands today, we must either create a new institution from scratch or we must build on what exists. It is my personal view that there is nothing better than the Council of Europe and its Assembly, with its background and tradition of promoting and safeguarding human rights and promoting the implementation of and respect for human rights and democratic processes throughout the world, but particularly in Europe.

The Council of Europe should take the initiative and promote co-operation among European countries as quickly as possible. It is not necessary for us to decide in advance the form of a European confederation. We can have confidence in the ability of everyone here and future members to develop forums as life goes on. But two things are important: first, the initiative must be taken; secondly, we must address the possibility that a European confederation will not be limited to political, social and cultural matters. We need a forum where economic cooperation can be discussed. You may say that that is the European Community. We have the European Community, but it will take some time before it decides how to develop and what form of association it will offer to the rest of Europe. In the meantime, we need to be able to exchange views and address issues that relate to economic development as well.

To sum up, first, I believe that we need a European confederation because that will provide the necessary links to cement relations of the European countries. At the same time, it will help the East European countries to strengthen their institutions and become open democratic societies as they all aspire to be for the benefit of their populations and for the benefit of Europe.

The Council of Europe is the ideal organisation that can use its experience to develop and help create this European confederation and it is within this framework that it will have to provide a forum for discussion of all problems, including the problem of economic co-operation.


Thank you, Mr Vassiliou. I can assure you that you will see a lot of initiatives from our side in this respect very soon. We have no fewer than eighteen parliamentary questions for oral answer. I remind you that only questions from those members present will be answered.

The eighteen questions to Mr Vassiliou have been tabled and they are set out in Document 6172. Some questions have a common theme and have been grouped. I propose to ask Mr Vassiliou to reply to these questions together, and then to each remaining question individually. I shall then invite the members concerned to ask a brief supplementary question if they wish. Supplementary questions are not the occasion for debate and, if members are brief, that will make it possible for more questions to be answered. It may be possible to provide written answers to any questions not reached owing to lack of time.

The first four questions will be taken together. They are tabled by Mr Martinez, Mr Martino, Mr Frangos and Mr Speed, and read as follows:

“Question No. 1:

Mr Martinez,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus whether he thinks that the solution to the problem of Cyprus with a view to the island’s reunification could be found in a federative arrangement, respecting the identity and autonomy of each of the two communities which make up the country’s population.

Question No. 2:

Mr Martino,

Pointing out that, to secure respect for ethnic and national diversity, our century favours introducing federal or confederate arrangements which sometimes have major human consequences, as in Eastern Europe;

Recalling that, for the time being, President Vassiliou does not actually represent all the people of Cyprus and that, on the basis of the principle of self-determination, the Turkish Cypriots have their own democratic multiparty constitution;

Bearing in mind that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Pérez de Cuéllar, has not so far succeeded in solving either the international law issue or the problem of the painful past which divides the two communities,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus whether he does not think that the progress made by new generations now makes it possible to find a solution for Cyprus whereby the rights of individuals and communities are respected.

Question No. 3:

Mr Frangos,

Noting that the crumbling of the Berlin Wall leaves Cyprus alone in the European space divided territorially and demographically,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus if he believes that the East-West dialogue currently under way can contribute towards putting an end to this discrimination against Cyprus, which includes a violation of the human rights of all Cyprus’s citizens; and what is his position concerning a federal solution to the Cyprus problem, based on the high-level agreements between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and the United Nations resolutions.

Question No. 4:

Mr Speed

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus if his Government regards the 1960 Constitution and Treaties as still binding upon it.”

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

As you have heard in my speech, the federal solution is the solution that I envisage. In my opinion, it is the only realistic solution to the Cyprus problem. The federal solution is not one that has come easily to the Cypriot side, because traditionally it has stood for a unitary state. However, if one wants to reach a solution to a problem, one must be ready to compromise. The historic compromise that the Greek Cypriot community had to make was to see that the federal solution was the best solution for the solving of the Cyprus problem. Therefore, we fully support the federal solution within the framework of one Cyprus, and we are ready to work for it.


Thank you, Mr Vassiliou, for your presence here and for your very enlightened speech. There has been a tendency within the Assembly to claim that perhaps we should not devote too much time to discussing the Cyprus question because that might interfere with the initiative taken by the United Nations Secretary General, who remains the man responsible for the achievement of peace in your country. Do you believe that, since the Cyprus problem is a wound in the body and soul of Europe, the Council of Europe is the body where this matter is to be tackled and where we have to try to find peaceful solutions?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I not only believe that the Council of Europe should be discussing the Cyprus issue; I take this opportunity to thank you for the continuing interest that the Council has shown in the Cyprus problem. I should like to point out that the Cyprus problem is not simply one that interests the Cypriots, whether Greek or Turkish. In essence, today, taking into consideration the developments in the world and the nationalistic expressions of discontent that we have seen all around the world, we can see that the Cyprus problem is very much a problem of interest not only to Cyprus but to the whole world, since from the way that the Cyprus problem could be solved one could find a blueprint for the solving of similar problems around the world.

It is also important because it shows how differences in two communities can be exacerbated and become an international problem if a foreign country that has sympathies and interests with one side is permitted to interfere and take the role of “peacemaker”. If we were to think of similar situations in Europe – I am sure that we would not like to enumerate them – we would be afraid to think of the consequences to world peace of such ethnic conflicts.

I believe that the Cyprus problem, in that sense, is one not only of interest to Cyprus but to the whole world and especially to Europe. In that sense, it is appropriate that the Council of Europe has been discussing it.

Furthermore, I do not think that discussing it here in any way jeopardises the solution of the problem; on the contrary, it will help to bring to the attention of all those interested the fact that the solution needs to be early, and I think it would help the efforts of the Secretary General rather than hinder them.

Mr MARTINO (Italy) (translation)

President Vassiliou, I have to say that I was not entirely satisfied by your reply or by the statement you made, wide-ranging and comprehensive as it was. Personally, I will only be satisfied when you, President Vassiliou, and Mr Denktash shake hands on a federalist solution, however it may be reached, closing a painful and unhappy episode from the past and generating an opportunity for peace – as the handshake between Reagan and Gorbachev has created a chance for peace for all humanity.

All I was asking was for some sort of idea as to when such a handshake might take place. I understand that it does not depend entirely on you, but it is up to you to make the first move.

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I am extremely sorry that you are not fully satisfied with my speech. I tried my best to be as objective as possible. However, I am surprised that you are asking when a handshake can take place. This handshake took place last August, in Geneva, between Mr Denktash and myself, when the Secretary General invited us to start a series of meetings with the prospect of solving the Cyprus problem. We have shaken hands, and the event was covered by the television networks.

Since then, we have had similar meetings in Cyprus and we have had eight hours of discussion. Unfortunately, when the Secretary General submitted his ideas for helping to reach a solution, Mr Denktash tended to forget the handshake, and move away. Since then, he has still not replied formally that he will come back to sit down and talk. I hope that he will answer positively and come to New York, where the Secretary General has invited us, and that the new handshake in New York will be productive.

I can assure you that if there is one thing I am striving for, it is to see the unity of Cyprus. I am convinced that that unity will be to the benefit of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots as well as to the benefit of Turkey, Greece, the Mediterranean – our common sea – and Europe.

Mr FRANGOS (Greece) (translation)

Mr President, your statement and reply were very satisfactory. I do not therefore wish to put a supplementary question, but should like to congratulate you and thank you for your contribution to world peace and the solving of the Cyprus problem.

Mr SPEED (United Kingdom)

Will you confirm your Government’s view that, both now and under any proposed federal constitution, the Turkish-Cypriot community and the Greek-Cypriot community have equal political rights?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

Yes, we believe that the federation that we are looking for – as I said in my speech – should have two constituent parts. One should be administered by the Turkish-Cypriot community and the other by the Greek-Cypriot community. We are ready to go further than probably any other federal constitution in the world to guarantee that each community will be safe in the knowledge that it will be able to administer its territory for ever. There will be a guarantee that it will never become a minority or lose the ability to administer its territory. These two territories should be equal in their fields of competence, as in all federations, but at the same time the Federal Republic of Cyprus should make certain that its citizens are all equal.


We now come to Questions Nos. 5 and 6, by Mrs Lentz-Cornette and Mr Ward, respectively:

“Question No. 5:

Mrs Lentz-Cornette,

Noting that the 1960 Cypriot Constitution stipulates, in Articles 1 and 2, that the Republic is made up of the Turkish and Greek communities,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus, whether, given the structure of this basic law, it is possible to refer to the Turkish community as a minority and how it is possible to envisage in the future a federation, which must be based on the equality of the federated states, while considering that the Turkish Cypriots form a minority.

Question No. 6:

Mr Ward,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus if he accepts that, for the first time for many years, the Turkish community in Cyprus feels safe; and if he considers that this leads to the conclusion that the only way forward is a recognition that each community in Cyprus will need to be in control of its own area with suitable co-ordination of international relations, leading to mutual respect of the equal rights and freedoms of both the main communities in Cyprus.”

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

Essentially, I have already answered Question No. 5 by what I said to Mr Speed. I said that we do not look at the Turkish community as a minority but as another community. There are two communities in Cyprus and within the framework of the federation each will administer one area. As I stated, no federation can exist unless its citizens are all equal, irrespective of ethnic origin or religious beliefs. I have also answered Mr Ward’s question by what I have already said.

Mr WARD (United Kingdom)

Mr President, you will be aware that this spring you are hosting the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Nicosia when, it is hoped, some 100 countries will be represented. It is important that people should be able to see at first hand the problems that both parts of Cyprus face – this is a golden opportunity to do just that. Would you be able to give an undertaking that representatives arriving in Nicosia for the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference will be allowed to go back and forth across the Green Line so that they can see as much of the problem as possible?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

Mr Ward, I assure you that all parliamentarians coming to Cyprus will have the chance to meet and talk with as many Turkish Cypriots as possible. However, all parliamentarians coming to Cyprus will be coming to the Republic of Cyprus. The world recognises only the Republic of Cyprus and not the self-proclaimed so-called Republic of North Cyprus. Therefore, we cannot in any circumstances encourage any moves that lead to meetings that take an official character, which might lead to an indirect recognition of this self-proclaimed entity. We favour and will continue to favour contacts with Turkish Cypriots, whether they are ordinary people or politicians but we will not favour moves that aim at helping accentuate the problem rather than solving it.


We now come to the next group of questions. They are by Mr Andreas Müller and Mr Redmond, and read as follows:

“Question No. 7:

Mr Andreas Müller,

Having, as co-author of the 1987 report on national refugees and missing persons in Cyprus, a direct interest in the process of eliminating tension between the northern and southern parts of the island,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus:

a. what steps have been taken since 1987 to restore trust between the two communities by means of direct contact through joint events (Doc. 5716, Recommendation 1056, paragraph 18.e);
b. what steps the government has taken since 1987 to foster economic co-operation in the whole island (Doc. 5716, Recommendation 1056, paragraph 18.f).

Question No. 8:

Mr Redmond,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus how the opening of Varosha could help Cypriots practise living together, in the interests of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots; if he will comment on recent contacts across the Green Line between Greek and Turkish Cypriot doctors, trade unionists and journalists; and how he considers that such contacts can be encouraged.”

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I should like to thank Mr Andreas Müller for raising the problem of the need for further contacts between the two communities. Since the day I was elected, I have done my best to promote such contacts. We have invited, and are always inviting, Turkish Cypriots to move freely. We are providing work opportunities for many Turkish Cypriots to work on equal terms and conditions as Greek Cypriots. I have corrected things that were not functioning well due to the situation in the past. One was the payment of social insurance contributions to those Turkish Cypriots who were entitled to them. We have started payment and, with the help of the United Nations, were able to make arrangements so that all those who are entitled to the payments can receive them. We have promoted relationships between political parties. We are opening our hospitals for free medical care to Turkish Cypriots. We are also promoting environmental co-operation where that is necessary and possible.

However, much closer economic co-operation is not possible as long as the partition is there and as long as the legal owners of properties and factories are not permitted either to go back to their properties or to come to some other kind of arrangement. For that reason, we are doing our best to promote a solution to the problem as quickly as possible to ensure that all Cypriots, whether Greek or Turkish, can benefit from the island’s huge economic potential.

I should also like to answer the question concerning the opening up of Varosha. We fully support that and believe that such a move would considerably improve the climate in Cyprus. It would also enable Greek and Turkish Cypriots to work on a large scale together, to promote joint projects, and to get first-hand experience of working together after so many years. It will create a climate that would quickly lead to a final settlement. We have therefore been supporting and asking Turkey to help open up Varosha to its legitimate inhabitants, under the auspices of the United Nations.

Mr Andreas MÜLLER (Switzerland) (translation)

Thank you, Mr President, for all the efforts you have made to bring the two communities closer together, even though it falls far short of what we had in mind when we unanimously adopted the resolutions in this Assembly. We can all agree with the remark you made about the need for an effort to forget what must be forgotten. Now to my further question, to test the strength of your conviction: Mr President, what is your position with regard to the general amnesty proposed unanimously by this Assembly?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I am fully in favour of an amnesty in the sense that there is not much to be gained in trying to find people from one side or the other who have committed crimes. Indeed, at my meetings with Mr Denktash, when discussing the prospects of freedom of movement in a united Cyprus he always said: “But how can we let killers move among our people?” I reminded him that the people whom he described as killers were already old men and represented no danger to anyone and that the same was true of killers from his side. I therefore fully agree that we should forget in the sense of not taking reprisals, but not in terms of failing to learn the lessons so as to ensure that similar events do not take place in the future. In that sense, I fully support the idea of an amnesty.

Mr REDMOND (United Kingdom)

I am sure that you, Mr President, would agree that fear and mistrust keep people apart. That is why it is important that people from both sides at all levels and from all groups should talk together. I was pleased to hear of the progress referred to in President Vassiliou’s reply, but may we have an assurance that additional facilities will be made available so as to ensure that that dialogue continues to progress?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I assure the Assembly that we are prepared to give every facility, not just in terms of providing venues but in terms of the free transport and ability to stay for any Turkish Cypriot who wishes to move among the Greek Cypriot people to talk to colleagues, people from the same village or other acquaintances. Unfortunately, however, the Turkish military authorities do not always permit such contacts, so we can never be sure that they will take place. For instance, just the other day some doctors were to meet, but they were stopped. Some trade-unionists who were to meet were also stopped. Unfortunately, the other side has been setting up all kinds of hurdles and prohibitions. Nevertheless, we are persistent people and we are persevering. I assure the Assembly that we will do everything possible to facilitate as many contacts as possible at all levels.


We now come to the following questions by Mr Cox and Mr Faulds:

“Question No. 9:

Mr Cox,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus whether, as is often claimed, the Republic of Cyprus has large stocks of military arms and equipment.

Question No. 10:

Mr Faulds,

In view of the British Government’s stated disapproval of the build-up of armaments in the south of Cyprus as not being conducive to a peaceful settlement,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus if he will give an assurance now that this arms build-up will stop forthwith.”

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

Yes, we have some stocks of arms and military equipment, but it may be better to answer the question by repeating what our Minister of Defence said at the seminar organised just a few days ago in Vienna under the auspices of the CSCE. He said that while a country such as Cyprus should have no military doctrine and no army at all, if we have a military doctrine, it is because it is imposed on us by certain facts of life. For instance, there are still 35 000 fully trained Turkish troops – probably the best in the Turkish army – stationed in Cyprus, more than 350 tanks, and big military air bases covering the whole island. Every year, joint military exercises take place between Turkish planes and naval forces and the Turkish troops stationed in Cyprus.

In such conditions, the least that one owes to oneself is to try to build a credible defence capability. At present, this consists of 11 000 national guardsmen, but we are making every effort to increase that number to 12 000 or 13 000. As that is the number of young people that we have, however, it is not easy to achieve such an increase. We are also trying to create a few hundred permanent soliders to man the new guns that we have bought, but there are difficulties there, too, because in a situation of full employment young men prefer peace and working in hotel management and other tourist activities to bearing arms.

As we are having such difficulty increasing the number of guardsmen from 11 000 to 12 000 or 13 000, there is not one chance in a million that we could ever match the 35 000 troops that the Turks have. We must therefore train our people as well as possible so that we can defend ourselves. We have 16 tanks, which we hope to increase to 30 or 40, but that is far fewer than the 350 that the Turks have. It is a joke to think that Cyprus could ever become a military danger or threat to Turkey. Everyone knows that. We are simply trying to build an ability to defend ourselves and not be blackmailed by the huge and unnecessary Turkish military presence in Cyprus. Nevertheless, as I said in my speech, we are ready at any moment, be it today or tomorrow, to disband our forces and turn our guns into ploughshares.

Mr COX (United Kingdom)

I thank you for that reply, Mr Vassiliou. I very much welcome your extremely firm commitment to the demilitarisation of Cyprus. I am sure that we should all welcome that. In view of your reply to my question, can you confirm that the Government of Great Britain, which is one of the guarantor powers for Cyprus, has made repeated requests to Mr Denktash for a substantial reduction in the number of Turkish troops in the north of Cyprus but that he has regrettably never responded? As you have said that you hope to meet Mr Denktash in the near future, can you tell the Assembly whether the removal of troops and military equipment from the north will be a major item on the agenda?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

The British Government has asked Turkey to reduce forces – not Mr Denktash, because he does not decide those matters – and the Greek Government has also made such requests. When Prime Minister Papandreou met President Ozal to discuss ways of improving relations between their two countries, the Greek Prime Minister asked for Turkish forces in Cyprus to be reduced. There have also been announcements in the Turkish press from time to time to the effect that Turkey would reduce its forces as a good will gesture. Going back a little further, when Turkey was asking the United States Congress to remove the embargo on the supply of arms to Turkey, imposed because NATO or United States arms had been used in the invasion of Cyprus, Turkey promised everyone that if they would just remove the embargo Turkey would withdraw its troops and the problem would be solved. The embargo was removed more than ten years ago, but unfortunately the troops are still there.

We certainly have been asking, we are asking and we will be asking. We hope that, at the end of the day, Cyprus will not be regarded in the manner of The Times Diary a few days ago. We hope that we shall not have the honour to be included in “Trivial Pursuits” in the form of the question: “Which is the country in the world a part of which is still occupied by another European country?”

Mr FAULDS (United Kingdom)

You will remember, Mr Vassiliou, from our previous encounter that I do not regard you as the President of Cyprus, with due respect, of course. I see you as the leader of the Greek Cypriot regime...


Order, please.


I read that as approval.

You gave some answers just now, Mr Vassiliou, about the military build-up. I have to say that the figures I have available do not tally with those you gave us. My information is that the Greek Cypriots now have 25 000 armed troops in the south of Cyprus and can mobilise 75 000 more in 24 hours. Did you not mislead the Council when you referred to the “Turkish invasion”? As you must well know, Turkish forces in the north of Cyprus are entitled to be there under the treaty of guarantee of 1960. There was no invasion. There is no occupation but a necessary intervention on the part of the Turkish Government – indeed, a legal intervention under the treaty of guarantee of 1960. How can you believe that the military build-up – we have to disagree about the figures – can possibly induce confidence among the Turkish Cypriots whose trust you have to win?

I have here, Sir, a charming photograph of you, looking perhaps a little harassed, but you have on your lapel an EOKA badge. Perhaps the press would like to see this later, because photographs tell good stories, I am told, usually the truth. How can you explain that your appearance at an EOKA rally in the recent past, wearing this EOKA badge – which is the badge of the terrorist organisation that pursued Enosis with Greece – is likely to induce confidence among the Turkish Cypriots? Would it not rather suggest that you still support EOKA, and that you still support EOKA’s aims, which were, and possibly still are, enosis with Greece?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I do not know where to start. I know that Mr Faulds is a good actor. I do not know how well informed he is...


This is genuine.

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

But he has certainly made a good appearance here. He was able to present things as being true which certainly do not represent the truth. There is no point in going into a personal exchange of ideas as to whether what I say is true or whether what Mr Faulds says is true, but I will state in front of this august body that we are ready to accept any international supervision or control to count how many armed troops we have and how many Turkish troops there are. That will establish the truth and show Mr Faulds – I am sorry to say this – that I am telling the truth and that the figures he is reporting are not true.

As to whether I am the President of the Republic of Cyprus, I will mention what happened at the first meeting between Mr Denktash and the late Archbishop Makarios in 1977, when they signed their agreement. Mr Denktash said to Archbishop Makarios, “You know, your Beatitude, that I do not recognise you as President of Cyprus”. The Archbishop, with his humour, said, “Don’t worry, Mr Denktash, it is enough for me that the whole world recognises me”. It is the same for me now...


He was the legal President.

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I am the legal President, because the Constitution of 1960 says clearly that the President of the Republic is chosen by the Greek Cypriots and the Vice-President is chosen and elected by the Turkish Cypriots. That is how I am the President.

Concerning the famous photograph that you have – it is not a secret photograph – let me first tell you that EOKA was described by the British in those days as a terrorist organisation, but I am sorry to say that the British, in the colonial days, had a tendency to describe any group of people fighting for independence and for their own freedom as a terrorist organisation. That is something that belongs to the past. We are now looking forward to co-operation, and we are happy with the co-operation that we have with the British Government and between the British and the Cypriot people.

EOKA was the body that fought for independence. It is true that it wanted union with Greece. There is no doubt about it. It is also true that it had to accept a compromise: instead of getting union it had to adapt to the acceptance of the Zurich Agreements, which in essence meant the independence and establishment of the independent republic.

Any president of any country has a duty to honour its traditions and the battle of its people for independence. In that sense, I should be congratulated by you and not criticised. If you are talking about terrorist organisations, there was a terrorist organisation in those days which was called TMT, and it specialised in intercommunal strife. As I said before and repeat now, what is important is not to dwell on the past and not to look at differences or at what excesses there have been by individual members of EOKA or of TMT at some stage afterwards, not during the fight for independence.

It is well known that there has been intercommunal strife, and I am the last person to deny that. What I am saying is that we cannot build a future by referring all the time to the strife of the past. We have to learn from the past and build a peaceful future for both communities through a federal Cyprus.


Next, we come to Question No. 11, by Sir Dudley Smith. It reads as follows:

“Question No. 11:

Sir Dudley Smith,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus why, until a settlement is reached, he objects to the peace-keeping role of the Turkish troops in northern Cyprus.”

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

All I can say in answer to the question is: God save the world from similar peace-keeping roles. If peace-keeping means the throwing away of one-third of the population, making people refugees in their own country, killing about 1% of the total population and having 1 600 missing persons, that is a very difficult way. It will end up like describing – well, I prefer not to go on. I do not agree that this is a peace-keeping effort. I do not think that anybody accepts that it is. We certainly object to the continous presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus. We should like to see them departing as early as possible, because that will be the biggest contribution Turkey can make to regional peace at this moment.

Sir Dudley SMITH (United Kingdom)

Is Mr Vassiliou aware that, far from feeling intimidated, as I know from personal experience, the northern Cyprus people, the Turkish Cypriots, feel much safer with the peace-keeping force of Turkish troops there? It has enabled them to develop to a modest extent their own particular prosperity. Bearing in mind the reply you gave to my British colleagues a few moments ago, they are acutely aware that, since there has been this support, there has not been one political intercommunal murder or serious injury.

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

There were no incidents between 1967 and 1974, although no Turkish troops were present, and in 1974, when the coup d’état took place under the Greek junta, there was not one incident against a Turkish Cypriot until Turkey decided to invade, using the coup d’état as a pretext. I do not know whether anyone anywhere in the world could accept that situation with a neighbouring country.

I shall refer you to the way that I answered this question when I was in Malaysia. I did not use a European example. As you know, Malaysia is a multiracial country, and about one-third of the population is Chinese, but they live throughout the country. In the past there was a danger of intercommunal strife. It is a Muslim country. I asked the interlocutor what he would think if China were to come into Malaysia, occupy one half or one-third of the country, throw out all the Malays, oblige all the Chinese to come to live in that part of the country and give them the properties that belonged to the Malays, saying: “You can live in these.” What if they then said to Malays in the rest of the world: “This is peace. This is what you should recognise”? That interlocutor looked at me and said: “So that is what it is really.” There were no further comments. I do not think that I need to comment further on this question.


We come to Question No. 12, by Mr Alemyr, which reads as follows:

“Question No. 12:

Mr Alemyr,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus how he sees the fate of the Turkish population settled in northern Cyprus since the division of the island, in the event of a future reintegration of northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus.”

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I believe that the Turkish population that has settled in northern Cyprus should be guaranteed a safe future. I do not see the future in Cyprus as a future of confrontation but of co-operation. Turkish Cypriots, within the framework of a solution, like Greek Cypriots, should be given the option of coming back to their villages. Many Turkish Cypriots may now be multi-millionaires because the properties that they owned, and still legally own according to our laws and rules, are now worth a lot of money as a result of the tourist development of Cyprus. Every Cypriot, whether Turkish or Greek, but you are talking about the Turks, should be given the option to decide whether he wants to go back. If he does not want to go back – I think that the majority of Turkish Cypriots will freely exercise the option not to go back – he should be allowed to stay and he should be helped to settle there for ever.

If a Greek Cypriot wants to go back, and the house that he wants to return to is occupied by a Turkish Cypriot, proper arrangements will have to be made. New facilities, or perhaps a new house, will have to be provided for the Turkish Cypriot so that he does not feel that he has been evicted from what was his provisional home, but feels that he has been given a chance to have a secure future, based on the legality of the united federation.

In other words, we do not envisage a solution that will put anyone in jeopardy but, on the contrary, we envisage a solution that will ensure that Turkish Cypriots will feel secure and that they will feel that they have a future, not only for themselves but for their children as well.

Mr ALEMYR (Sweden)

Thank you for your answer, Mr President. The reason for my question was that the Foreign Relations Committee in the Swedish Parliament got the message from one of your officials that if a settlement were possible between Turkey and Cyprus, to make a free united Cyprus, all the Turks would be sent back by force to Anatolia. You made a good answer, and I thank you for it. I think we both agree that it is important for the future to make it possible for all the people to live there, and to live in human dignity, and I hope that we can all co-operate to ensure that.

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I think that there has been a misunderstanding here on my part. I was referring to Turkish Cypriots who have moved to the north, rather than to settlers. I believe that it is better for the settlers to be given help and support so that they can return to Turkey, because they did not come into Cyprus as part of a legal process, as immigrants come into Sweden or any other European country nowadays. Not only that, they have also been used, and are being used, as a means of controlling the Turkish-Cypriot population, by giving them political rights which are being used to the detriment of the indigenous Turkish-Cypriot population.

For the benefit of all Cypriots, those people should be helped to resettle in Turkey. However, people who have married Turkish Cypriots should have the opportunity to choose to stay. As a matter of fact, a number of Greek Cypriots have married Turks and they are living in peace. So, those people who are legally married to a Cypriot should be able to live with that family, but the others should be helped to return. That has been a basic demand on our part.


We now come to Question No. 13, by Mr Pahtas:

“Question No. 13:

Mr Pahtas,

Pointing out that, as a result of the tragic events of 1974, which followed the invasion of Cyprus by Turkish military occupation forces, there is the major humanitarian problem of the 1 619 missing persons, including Greek citizens, who were alive at the time of their illegal capture by the Turkish military and about whom we have since had no information;

Noting that sixteen years later, at a time when freedom is being recovered throughout Europe and worldwide, a member country of the Council of Europe does not yet know the fate of some of its citizens,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus:

a. what information he has on the subject, and

b. what the European institutions can do about these people.”

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

Missing persons are a human tragedy. We would like the cases to be solved as quickly as possible and not to be exploited politically. This is a human problem which we want to be resolved. I have appealed to Mr Denktash and to Turkey to help us to solve it, and I have repeatedly said that we do not intend to exploit the issue politically.

Mr PAHTAS (Greece) (translation)

Mr President, our principles are expressed in our total respect for human rights and for democracy, and in our struggle to defend them.

Our aim here is to help build a Europe which is independent of the military blocs and in which no foreign troops are stationed in any of our countries.

Despite all this, we are confronted with a paradox, or rather several paradoxes.

Mr President, you are the President of a Council of Europe member state, over one-third of whose territory is occupied by the military forces of another country, Turkey, which is also a Council of Europe member state.

Recently, the German Democratic Republic removed all the obstacles and lifted all the barriers hindering free circulation of persons. In Cyprus, however, a non-existent frontier is being turned into a wall.

We are discussing the building of European unity in a very thorough manner: but one European country is still divided in two by outside military forces!

Every attempt is being made to achieve one aim – to stave off an outburst of popular feeling of the type which led to democratisation in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe.

In Cyprus, whole communities are being “imported” from the interior of Asia. If this continues, most of the population of the occupied territories will soon no longer belong to the original population. What we are seeing here is a new colonisation process. At the same time, the refugees of the two communities are being prevented from returning to their homes.

All of this has led the Secretary General of the United Nations to abandon his general policy and take sides, declaring that Mr Denktash’s attitude disturbed him – and, more specifically, that he no longer understood what Mr Denktash was saying.

Mr President, what do you think of the reaction of the Secretary General of the United Nations?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

We want a meeting to take place and we want it to succeed. We hope that Mr Denktash will co-operate and help to make this meeting a successful one.


Next, we have Questions Nos. 14 and 15, by Mr Atkinson and Mr Lambie, which read as follows:

“Question No. 14:

Mr Atkinson,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus what consultation he has held with Mr Denktash in preparing his statement today.

Question No. 15:

Mr Lambie,

Considering that it is only fair, and indeed essential, that this Council should hear both sides of any case before it can come to a view,

To ask the President of the Republic of Cyprus if he has any objection to the Council of Europe inviting Mr Denktash, the leader of the Turkish Cypriots, to address the Parliamentary Assembly as he has just done.”

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I am asked what consultations I had with Mr Denktash before delivering my statement. As I said, I have been trying to have consultations with Mr Denktash over the past month, but he has refused to consult on anything, far less on a statement. I am surprised by these questions.

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom)

Do you accept that, in the present circumstances of your divided country, when preparing addresses to national assemblies of importance, such as ours, it would be appropriate for you to consult the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community rather than to speak for only one part of your country? Can you confirm that you attempted to speak to Mr Denktash about the preparation of your speech to us?

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

I am very surprised by your remarks, Mr Atkinson. You know that Cyprus is a republic and that the President is properly elected. Mr Denktash and the Turkish-Cypriot community have chosen to move away and are separated from us at the moment. We have always said that we would welcome the Turkish Cypriots back to live with us under the Constitution, if that is what they wish. Unfortunately, they have refused to do that. I thought that you would have known that. One can only consult someone within the framework of legally accepted institutions. Those institutions exist, but unfortunately the Turkish Cypriots have chosen not to participate in them. That is why we had no opportunity to consult them.

Mr LAMBIE (United Kingdom)

I had asked you whether you would have no objection to this Assembly inviting Mr Denktash to come and address us. You have put your side of the case today. In the new spirit of glasnost that appeared throughout your speech today, would you have any objection to Mr Denktash being invited to give his side of the case?

During my time as a member of the Council of Europe I have met at an official level in the Parliamentary Assembly, in committees and in sub-committees only representatives of the Greek community in Cyprus. In your speech you said that you were in favour of looking to the future. Will you give us a guarantee that in the near future you will include in the Cypriot delegation to the Council of Europe members of the Turkish community? That would go a long way towards bringing us all together.

Mr Vassiliou, President of the Republic of Cyprus

It is not for me to decide who addresses the Assembly. As far as I know, the rules are clear. This is an Assembly of twenty-three nations and only the heads of those nations are invited to address it. In that sense, there is no scope for Mr Denktash.

The views of the Turkish Cypriots are well known. There have been many opportunities, in fact-finding missions and others, to hear those views, and I am sure that there is no lack of knowledge of them. I repeat that we are aiming at a solution and that we want Cyprus to be reunited. We have always wanted the Turkish Cypriots to be part of the delegation. It is not our choice that they are not here: it is theirs.

This Assembly contains representatives of the twenty-three parliaments of its member states. Unfortunately, the Turkish Cypriots have chosen to withdraw from our parliament. Places exist for them, but they do not want to participate. They want to impose a partition on the island and to destroy the republic. The whole world stands against partitions. Ethnic problems cannot be resolved by partitioning countries. As I said in my speech, and as I am sure you will agree, it would help no one if Europe was to become a bloc of three hundred countries instead of thirty-five, but that is what would happen if every ethnic community was permitted to set up its own state.

We are trying to do something that will benefit the Cypriot people, but we are fighting your battle, too, for a better Europe and a better world.


Thank you, Mr President. On behalf of the Assembly, I express our thanks to you for your answers to all the questions. I also thank you for your support of our Organisation, and I wish you and Cyprus all the best for the future.