President of the Republic of Cyprus

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Mr President, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, esteemed members of the Parliamentary Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to begin by expressing my particular joy. It is a great pleasure to be here, and I thank you for the invitation to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. My joy is all the greater because we are in the middle of the Cypriot chairmanship of the Council of Europe. My presence here is proof of the importance that the Republic of Cyprus places on the Council of Europe and on the role that this institution plays in building and strengthening respect for the principles and core values of European culture.

With the European Convention on Human Rights as a cornerstone, the Council of Europe has developed a number of bodies, at the forefront of which is the European Court of Human Rights, that play an essential role in the promotion and protection of respect for the individual rights and liberties of all those who live in Europe and outside it. The existence of European legal culture is one of the great achievements of European citizens, so the Republic of Cyprus places particular importance on the Court’s role as a guardian of the Convention and sees it as a unique mechanism for the protection of rights. The Court’s rulings have to be implemented completely and unconditionally by all member States; that is not only an obligation on them all but a necessary condition for the strengthening of the rule of law in the countries of the Council of Europe. A decisive role is played by the Parliamentary Assembly, as the only forum in which democratic dialogue takes place between the 47 members of the Council of Europe. It is a bridge between the people of Europe, embracing cultural diversity, promoting mutual understanding and forging consensus. We will push forward on that front during Cyprus’s chairmanship, to promote publicly the role that the Council of Europe can play in responding to the major challenges that Europe confronts collectively.

Accession to the Council of Europe in 1961 was one of the first decisions of the newly formed Republic of Cyprus. It constituted an indication of a deep commitment to the principles and core values of the Council of Europe: the establishment of democratic institutions, the rule of law and the importance of solidarity between member States. Another important step for the Republic of Cyprus was the ratification in October 1962 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which has been incorporated into national legislation of the highest importance. Since then, Cyprus has ratified more than 135 conventions of the Council of Europe. It voluntarily participates in all monitoring mechanisms, which has led to the strengthening of the rule of law and respect for human rights in Cyprus.

The major challenges that Europe confronts today – the economic crisis, terrorism, waves of migrants – have created an atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty among our citizens. Unfortunately, we have seen the resurgence of some frightening phenomena. Xenophobic and other kinds of hate speech, populism and extremist elements are on the rise. In that context, #NoHateNoFear – your initiative, Mr President, and that of the Parliamentary Assembly – and any actions in that direction are of particular importance, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you.

The particular message that the Republic of Cyprus wants to deliver during its chairmanship is one of strengthening democratic security in Europe. We have to work on the basis of common values to strengthen our democratic structures and the rule of law, create open societies that embrace pluralism and tolerance, and oppose any forms of fanaticism and intolerance. Cyprus’s chairmanship places primary importance on advancing those issues, which are the basic pillars of the Council of Europe and are also core values of the European Union.

Esteemed President, with all the challenges that Europe has to confront today, the moment has come for us to be part of a constructive, creative dialogue, to look at our citizens’ concerns, take them to heart and find some way of solving our problems. Through our political actions, we have to make the concept of the active citizen a reality. Education is particularly important; educating citizens with democratic consciousness and awareness is another priority of our chairmanship. Dialogue, co-operation and the creation of a culture of peaceful coexistence are exceptionally important if we are to cultivate and instil the idea of an active citizen with a critical mind, a constructive approach, a democratic ethos, diligence, solidarity and tolerance of diversity. As our experience in Europe has shown, the promotion of those fundamental rights constitutes the essence of European identity.

By strengthening European structures and investing in the process of European integration with absolute respect for the principles and values of Europe, our continent has succeeded in dealing with the numerous challenges that have emerged since the Second World War. The need for a deeper level of democratic security in Europe today requires maintaining that continuum of effective co-operation not only at a national but at a regional level and in co-operation with international organisations. Co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union has been particularly successful in promoting common values and aims, not only in the continent of Europe but in neighbouring regions. The Council of Europe’s co-operation with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other international organisations is equally important and has added value to achieving those common goals.

Mr President, esteemed members of the Parliamentary Assembly, I would like to express my absolute satisfaction and my warmest thanks, because the Assembly has adopted a whole raft of resolutions and recommendations for restoring justice and for a peaceful resolution of a problem that is truly European: the Cyprus issue. I cannot but point out the very important resolutions and recommendations issued by your body and the various rulings of the European Court of Human Rights that mention various facets of the Cyprus issue, such as the major humanitarian crisis, with individuals missing, trapped in enclaves or displaced; the closed zone of Famagusta; the destruction of cultural heritage; and the distortion and alteration of the democratic process because of settlers in the northern part of the island.

I could not appear here before you without mentioning the new efforts being made right now in order to achieve some sort of resolution of the totally unacceptable state of affairs that has prevailed on Cyprus over the past 43 years. I would like to be clear on this. My intent is not to blame this, that or the next party. What I would like to do is inform you of the progress that has been achieved and the various problems we continue to confront. Over the past 20 months, we have made a new effort, and I must admit there has been progress on the chapters of governance, the division of authority, economy and the European Union and, to a lesser extent, the chapter on property. Although there has been considerable progress, there continue to be differences and different views on numerous issues that concern the aforementioned chapters, the most important of which involves the properties issue.

Over the past couple of months we have focused our efforts on a discussion on two decisive chapters: territorial adjustments, and security and guarantees. On the issue of safety and security in Europe, allow me to pause on the chapter that concerns security and guarantees, which touches on the international dimensions of the Cyprus issue. One cannot mention Cyprus’s security without referring to the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, signed by the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, who were the guarantor powers. I also feel the need to mention, and I have to accept, that unfortunately the source of the problems that we confront today was just that: the Treaty of Guarantee, which unfortunately gave the impression to its custodians – the guarantors, as it were – that they had the right to intervene in the internal affairs of the newly established State. The culmination of that was the Turkish invasion of 1974. The pretext was to restore constitutional order following the coup d’état orchestrated by the junta in Athens; of course, that led to the Turkish invasion.

Unfortunately, rather than restoring a constitutional order, Turkey violently took over the northern part of the island – 37% of the entire island of the Republic of Cyprus – forcing 167 000 Greek Cypriots, about a third of the population, to abandon their homes and move to the southern part of the island: the part under the control of the Republic of Cyprus. Given those events, we feel that similar such anachronistic adjustments can only create problems. They cannot constitute a response to any sort of concerns – justified or not – that may exist on either side. At the same time, and without ignoring the need for the security of one community not to constitute a threat to the other community, with that in mind we have submitted a comprehensive proposal that we feel effectively confronts the concerns of both communities.

Allow me to focus on what has been agreed upon already – this will constitute a cornerstone of the final agreement on the resolution of the Cyprus issue. Among those points – these are points of convergence and core principles of the agreement – are that, first, the internal structure of the Republic of Cyprus will be on the basis of a bizonal communal structure with political equality of the two communities. Secondly, the independence and territorial integrity of the united Cyprus will be ensured totally on the basis of international law and the United Nations Charter – and, of course, since Cyprus is a member of the European Union, the acquis communautaire plays a role as well.

Thirdly, there are constitutional provisions that will strictly prohibit succession or unification of part of the island by a third country. Fourthly, in order to secure bizonality, each of the constituent parts will have administrative limits. Fifthly, in order to secure bi-communality and political equality, it is not permitted for the federal government to intervene in the internal affairs of one or both of the constituent parts.

Another element is for effective participation in governance of the State to be secured by both communities in order to have an effective decision-making structure. That has been set up in such a fashion that we will avoid having a situation in which one community imposes itself on the other. As a result, first, any sort of military guarantee – or, worse than that, the right to intervene militarily on the part of a third country – is not only unnecessary but would constitute an anachronism. Furthermore, that would violate the independence and sovereignty of an independent country that is a member of the United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe and numerous other international organisations and violate the Charter of the United Nations and international law. Secondly, considering that the situation today is totally different from that in 1960 – or 1974, for that matter – any sort of presence of Turkish military forces or guarantee forces, or guaranteed rights for Turkey, would work contrary to the Greek Cypriot community; simply because of the strength and geographic distance of Turkey, that would be considered a constant threat to Greek Cypriots.

Thirdly, putting one community or the other under the custodianship or influence of a guarantor would be a factor for instability that could create the possibility for succession and strengthen tendencies of an irredentist nature. That would create a total lack of the political balance that is desired, and there would be that sense of one community’s superiority over the other. As a result, we would have not consensus but rather essentially a dead-end and destabilisation. Furthermore, that is incompatible with the basic course of sovereignty and that of the international entity, which every single country has. In such a situation, it would be totally unacceptable if a third country were to be invited to intervene and violate the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. I cannot provide clearer examples on that. It would be as if the Russian Federation were invited to guarantee the independence of Estonia or Latvia, or if one of the federal States of Germany asked for another country to be one of its guarantors. I think you can clearly understand what the problems are.

In the immediate future, the steps taken on resolving the Cyprus issue will be extremely decisive. I am absolutely sure that if all of the parties involved and, specifically – I say this not critically – Turkey also come forward with creative and constructive proposals, we can achieve resolution of the Cyprus issue on the basis and within the framework of core European principles and values. I would like to repeat once again my determination to work towards achieving a resolution that would truly re-unify the Republic of Cyprus, but which, more importantly, would protect all its citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, creating a modern State that is compatible with everything that is necessary and desired by the European Union and creating the prospects for peaceful coexistence between the inhabitants of the island. We are certain that a resolution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the principles of the Council of Europe, respecting liberties and human rights, is a condition of creating democratic security and safety in Europe and the south-eastern Mediterranean region.

In closing, let me thank and congratulate you warmly on the ever so arduous task that you perform. The work that you do here in the Assembly is extremely valuable. The Republic of Cyprus will continue to give its support and to contribute in every possible way to achieve those common goals for a Europe that we all dream of – a Europe of democracy, freedom, liberty and justice, but also a human Europe: a Europe of culture and tolerance. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.


Thank you very much, Mr President, for a most interesting address. Members of the Assembly now have questions to put to you. I remind them that questions must be limited to no more than 30 seconds. Colleagues, you must please ask questions, not make speeches. I will now allow one question from each of the political groups.

Mr OVERBEEK (Netherlands), Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left

Mr President, thank you for your informative presentation. As you made clear, one of the key issues is security. You also made it clear that the existing guarantor system can no longer function in the future. It is to be expected that the United Nations will have a role to play in the future arrangements. Could you please elaborate on the various scenarios that are being discussed – the Kosovo scenario, the Northern Ireland scenario, and so forth?


Thank you, Mr Overbeek. I ask members to keep to 30 seconds.

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

I fully agree with you. As I mentioned, under the comprehensive proposal to deal with the various concerns of one community or the other, it is of course foreseen that the United Nations Security Council will have to adopt a very strong resolution indeed, under Article 7, so that all citizens feel that the international community is following and at the same time intervening, if necessary of course, to secure peace and adhere to the various principles adopted by both constituent parties for the respect of human rights.

Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania), Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party

Mr President, we are closely following the talks and your attempts to secure unification and security of the country. A few months ago we faced the coup d’état in Turkey. How did the measures that the Turkish Government took to restore order in their country influence your talks with the communities about the future of the country?

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

First, I must condemn this coup d’état and of course send my condolences to those who lost their lives. On the other hand, if some sort of body has been put together to investigate the persecution of individuals, that is important. In answer to the question, no difference was noted in the Turkish Cypriot position. In other words, the situation did not deteriorate. Through dialogue, the position of the two sides will be made clear, in an attempt to resolve the issue overall.

Ms DURRIEU (France), Spokesperson for the Socialist Group (interpretation)

We had strong hopes for a possible agreement in Geneva. There is no agreement and we are disappointed. Is this a crisis or a stalemate? Is it only a matter of thinking that questions of security and the withdrawal of Turkish troops were a priority? You talked about a few months or a few years, so this is my question: when would our next meeting be, and do you still believe in the reunification of the island?

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

I am unhappy about this, because there was great disappointment after that first meeting in Geneva, following certain hopes and ambitions that existed. There was no reason for that, because it was just a beginning for us to move forward on this particular front – in other words, to resolve the Cyprus issue – so I feel that this initial disappointment was not really necessary. The fact that we met was a success. It has not come to an end. We are continuing along this path of dialogue between the two sides and involving the guarantors of the Republic of Cyprus. Specifically, the two communities are very concerned about the guarantees. They want to see progress of such a nature that would allow us to arrive at a final resolution of the Cyprus issue.

Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom), Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group

Mr President, I want to ask you an economic question. To what extent will the development of offshore gas resources with Israel benefit the whole of Cyprus and how widely will those benefits be spread?

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

There is no doubt whatever that this will be for the benefit of all on Cyprus. Of course, any sort of reserves would pertain to the State, and the State belongs to its people, who are made up of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Thus, if a solution is to be found, the benefit will be for the entire island and all the people on it, and will play an important role in boosting the economy of the country in numerous different ways. Also, the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus and its use by neighbouring countries is something from which Cyprus will reap great benefits. We feel that Cyprus will become a major economic centre in the region and play an important role in European energy security. Taking into consideration Cyprus’s geopolitical position and, more specifically, its geographic position vis-à-vis the various reserves of natural gas and possibly other energy sources – oil, for example – the benefit will undoubtedly be important and, once again, for the benefit of all on the island.

Ms OEHRI (Liechtenstein), Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

Dear Mr President, I have a question for you: how is the property of displaced Cypriots being dealt with, and how will property relations be regulated in a co-ordinated way? What is the situation of the cultural heritage in the Turkish part of Cyprus? Thank you.

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

That is our aim. Without of course ignoring the fact that there are properties which for the public good may not be returned, what is important and has been agreed upon is that we recognise the right of ownership. In order to deal with the rights of property owners, agreements have been forged with regard to five remedies: partial restitution; full restitution; alternative properties; exchange of properties; and other similar such mechanisms. In this fashion, we will find the best solution to these very complicated property issues, which are linked to the territorial adjustments in that particular chapter. I would like to hope that there will be an agreement on the property issue. In other words, I hope that we will have the return of the considerable properties under the Turkish Cypriot authority which, since 1974, have not been in the hands of their legal owners, so I hope for a certain amount of return.


We will now have groups of three questions. The first will be from Mr Rouquet.

Mr ROUQUET (France)

Last night in New York, the United Nations chief negotiator expressed the hope that it will be possible in the next few weeks to convene another multilateral conference on the future of the island. He referred to negotiations needing to take place at several levels: the constitutional level; on external security and internal security; and on the mechanisms for ensuring enforcement of a possible agreement. Can you tell us more about this, Mr President?

Mr COMTE (Switzerland)

A few years ago, the first agreement was attempted by the two communities in Cyprus. What lessons have been learned by the Republic of Cyprus from this first attempt, which came to nothing? Have the fears and hopes of the Cypriots been better taken into account since then? Do you think that the agreement being offered now is better than the one that was rejected?

Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom)

Mr President, the Assembly wishes you well in your determined efforts to achieve a reunification of Cyprus. In your view, is external involvement helping or hindering the process? Should it not be left to the two communities on the island – the Turkish and the Greek Cypriot communities – to determine what package should be put in referendums to their respective peoples?

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

As concerns the statement made by Mr Eide, it simply confirms what I said earlier. In other words, things do not end with Geneva; that was the beginning of a dialogue between the guarantors, the Republic of Cyprus and the two communities – not excluding the European Union, because the Republic of Cyprus is a full member of the European Union. Thus, there is nothing for me to comment beyond expressing my hope that, in the end, it will be possible within the next couple of weeks or months to achieve a certain amount of convergence and that an agreement will be forged as has been stated in the communiqué of the United Nations. In other words, it can happen only under the condition that the security of one community will not pose a threat to the security of the other community.

On the question posed by Mr Rouquet of France, on what lessons we learned from the first effort to resolve the Cyprus issue in 2004 – the Annan plan – there are numerous different things that we can draw from that. First, it is impossible for third parties to find a solution to problems that are better known by the parties on the ground, who are directly involved. That is one lesson that we can draw. That created a kind of negative atmosphere and it resulted in a plan that was imbalanced and that created among the people a sense of a lack of certainty. People felt that they had not been done justice. There were numerous different elements in that plan that created that atmosphere.

On the question asked by Sir Roger Gale, the dialogue that is taking place now is between Cypriots, without foreign intervention. For that reason, one side can better understand the concerns of the other side. We lived in peaceful co-existence for decades, let us not forget, and we have the same life experiences. It was the intervention of third parties that led to the situation that prevails today – a situation that is unacceptable for Turkish Cypriots, for Greek Cypriots, for all. This joint effort aims to find a common solution that would allow us finally to come up with something that would be 100% acceptable to both communities. Our decisiveness is there, and efforts are being made in order to avoid the impression of victors and vanquished. It is very important for us to adhere to this particular idea and to the principles of the European Union and of the Council of Europe. All of this will allow us to live peacefully together over time and create a State that will finally create an environment of stability, peace and hope for the long-term future.

On the third question, which was on the intervention of third parties, which Sir Roger Gale also mentioned, I think that I have responded to that. What must be respected in negotiations on the property issue is that there must be no foreign intervention. The only intervention that could take place would be on the part of the Security Council of the United Nations, and only where necessary to find some sort of solution or to implement whatever is necessary to ensure a smooth transition to a new status quo, based on that which had been agreed upon.


We will now have three more questions. The first was to be from Ms Naira Karapetyan, from Armenia, but she is not present. Therefore, I call Mr Bildarratz.


Given the clear example of the obvious problems created when it has not been possible to abide by the calendar that was set, I would like to ask the following question: do you consider that the agreement should be submitted to a referendum in both parts of the island when these peace negotiations are far from creating unanimity, or do you think that a different sort of strategy should be opted for to avoid any further division?


Thank you, Mr President, for coming here today, and I look forward to visiting your lovely island in a few weeks as the head of a delegation from the Swedish Parliament. My question is very short. What are the major stumbling blocks in the reunification of your lovely island?

Mr TILKI (Hungary)

Hungary welcomes the efforts of the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to reach a comprehensive settlement on the reunification of Cyprus. Mr President, how would you evaluate the results of the latest multilateral conference in Geneva? Will you tell us a little about your thinking and about where you are on that?

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

In response to the first question, on time and whether there is faith in a positive result from any referendum, any agreement will result in simultaneous referendums and I feel that we must achieve two positive results accepting the solution. It all depends on the content of the solution, and numerous different factors play a role; it depends to a certain extent on the level of respect for human rights and to what extent people feel that the Republic of Cyprus will be secure and safe. Progress has been considerable, but if we transcend our problems we will be much more successful in our negotiations. I thank the Swedish authorities for facilitating the dialogue process.

In Cyprus, religion has never – I repeat never – played a role, regardless of the fact that there is a religious difference. The Turkish Cypriots are Muslim, the Greek Cypriots are Christian, but there has never been a problem with that. There was always mutual respect and a broad acceptance on both sides of the confessional differences. As I mentioned, the major problems are with the need for a just resolution of the territorial adjustment and property issues, for the ridding of any foreign forces or occupying forces from the country, and for banning any third country from intervening militarily. We want an operational country with respect for human rights, because we do not want to create a dysfunctional State that will not be durable. One basic facet of an agreement is the guaranteed smooth operation and implementation of its different aspects. There is an implementation issue, too.

The third question was about the Geneva results, and we find ourselves at the beginning of the process with a long way before us. We still have not had a clear differentiation of the various positions, so it is difficult for me to express optimism or pessimism at this point. Turkey had until now never expressed any desire to discuss guarantees, and any adjustment that would create disturbance in the constitutional order of the country would have to take into account the reverberations for one community or the other – creating an atmosphere of security for one community while creating insecurity for the other would be unacceptable.

The question now is about Turkey’s decision on the guarantee system and whether it will remove its occupying forces on the island. A lot hangs on that. One must take into consideration the fact that there are only 40 nautical miles between Turkey and Cyprus. One argument about guarantees is that the presence of foreign troops on the island must be considered, as must terrorism. If we want territorial integrity and sovereignty for this new State, it must be quite clear through a guarantee that such a situation should not exist. Let us not forget the region we are talking about. Lebanon, Israel and Jordan are all our neighbours, and we have friendly ties with them so there is no reason to suppose that there might be some sort of military intervention or foreign military presence from anywhere else. The decisiveness we and, more importantly, the Turkish Government will display will play an important role in the evolution of events on the island.

Mr ARIEV (Ukraine)

I have read several statements from Cypriot politicians containing willingness to lift European Union sanctions against the Russian Federation. Do you think that that will help to stop Russian aggression towards neighbours and other States – both past aggressions and future ones?

Ms KAVVADIA (Greece) (interpretation)

Mr President, welcome. We have been following the negotiations with great interest, and the people of Cyprus – Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots – appear to be moving along more decisively than ever. Of course, your role has been extremely important in that. The situation right now is not the best because there is an existential crisis in the air, particularly given that the core principles and values of the European Union are being tested. Do you feel that a reunified Cyprus will create a wonderful example of tolerance for the rest of Europe?

Mr SABELLA (Palestine, Partner for Democracy)

Mr President, there was talk about a role for Cyprus, given its problems, in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for practical arrangements to be made between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip under the Palestinian National Authority. Is this realistic or simply wishful thinking?

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

On the question of getting rid of the sanctions, the first point is that we must respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each country. I understand that right now we have the Normandy process. The Minsk process is also ongoing, which is extremely important. It is very important that there is respect for what has been decided upon up until now. Ongoing dialogue can bear much more fruit than anything else. That does not mean we are to ignore the resolutions or decisions that have already been made by the European Union.

Furthermore, I repeat that dialogue is absolutely imperative, because sanctions alone are not enough; they do not bear the result that one would like, and I do not know if they are completely effective. Look at what has happened in the meantime, irrespective of the sanctions – I am talking about Crimea. It is necessary for all to respect the sovereignty of the United Nations and the independence of nations, but dialogue is imperative. We should reassess efforts that have not resulted in anything and find new ways.

In the crisis that Europe is confronting, will resolution of the Cyprus issue constitute an example? I think it will, to a certain extent. It would be a success story for Europe because it is a European problem. At the same time, it would serve as a model for peaceful resolution of different types of problem, particularly those in the broader region, and for peaceful co-existence. If we look at what is going on in the region, and the conflicts between Christians and Muslims or confessions overall, Cyprus would serve as an example of stability. Furthermore, it would be a factor of stability. That is ever so important in the circumstances that prevail right now in Europe.

With regard to Gaza and the Palestinians, as I have said on other occasions, we have excellent relations with the Palestinian Authority, but that does not mean we do not have good relations with Israel; we have fine relations with Israel as well. We try in every way to serve as mediators, to the extent that we can, in order to resolve the Gaza issue. One of our principles is that a solution can be found only on the basis of recognition and implementation of United Nations resolutions and recognition of the Palestinian State and that of Israel. The efforts of numerous countries, including member States of the European Union, will bear fruit if there is mutual understanding and a more profound understanding of the problems and the causes of them.


As Mr Villumsen is not here, I call Mr Destexhe, from the Republic of Belgium

Mr DESTEXHE (Belgium) (interpretation)

Not yet.


Sorry; the Kingdom of Belgium.

Mr DESTEXHE (Belgium) (interpretation)

Mr President, I would like to ask about the situation of Greek and Christian Orthodox heritage in the northern occupied part of Cyprus. You referred to it in your address, but I would like to know a little more.

Mr FOURNIER (France) (interpretation)

More than two years ago, the European Union adopted several different types of sanction, including economic sanctions, against the Russian Federation. That decision was linked to Russian activities considered to be acts of destabilisation during the Ukrainian crisis. The question of whether the Minsk agreements are fully implemented will decide whether the sanctions are to be lifted or renewed. There is ongoing debate on that in the European Union. What is Cyprus’s attitude to that rather thorny issue?

Mr ÇAGLAR (Representative of the Turkish Cypriot Community) (interpretation)

With a historic mission, Mr Akinci has moved forward over the past 21 months with great courageousness in this negotiation process, and I would like to congratulate you both. Various issues have been discussed in Geneva and the technical committees, which bring together the guarantors. That has been extremely valuable. When do you feel those discussions will resume? Who will be the federal president of this particular State? What sort of rotating system will exist? Those are my questions, but above all I would like to congratulate you and Mr Akinci on the efforts made.

Mr Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus (interpretation)

I have to say that the situation concerning cultural heritage in the occupied part of the island is not that which we would all like. A number of steps in the right direction have been taken through the restoration and preservation of monuments. There is a technical committee, which has done considerable and important work. I would like to believe, on the basis of what we have agreed, that Christian places of worship will be returned, as a number have already, in the occupied area. Religious services now take place. Although a number of steps still have to be taken in order for us to speak about total restoration or respect of cultural heritage, I feel we are at least on the right path.

I have already responded with regard to the position of Cyprus on the sanctions against Russia. We must continue with the Normandy process, which has begun, and the Minsk dialogue, on the basis of what has already been agreed; we must continue along that path. Here, we speak about respect of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. It is absolutely necessary for that to be part of it. Upon that foundation, dialogue ought to continue.

To my Turkish Cypriot compatriot, after the election of Mr Akinci there is indeed better understanding of the problems that exist, but the most important thing is our decisiveness and will to achieve some sort of solution to the Cyprus issue. That will allow both communities to move forward and to benefit from the situation that we hope will be created. The technical committees will continue their work, in order for us to move forward and reassume negotiations at the political level, where decisions will finally be made. I cannot say what period is necessary for convergence and agreement. A meeting is scheduled with Mr Akinci and representatives from the United Nations, to arrange for the dialogue process to be re-initiated and for us to move forward. However, I do not want to make any specific statement on the matter. That may have a negative effect in terms of the special climate that prevails between us and the negotiating parties. Any issues or differences will have to be resolved at the negotiating table, but my will and that of Mr Akinci is there and we have the necessary precondition for us to be able to forward for peace, stability and security, and for the long-term prospects of the citizens on our island.


Thank you, Mr President, for your most inspiring address and for your support for the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights. Our fundamental standards and values are part of the European legal culture and our European identity, which, as you say, is solidly based on the principles of tolerance, respect for diversity and humanity. We also really value your support for our #NoHateNoFear initiative, and I thank you most sincerely for that. We will still be interested in your vision for the settlement of the Cyprus issue and the reunification of the island. I greatly appreciated our discussion in my office this morning, and let me assure you that you can count on our full support, our tools and our expertise. Thank you very much indeed. I wish you all the best, Mr President.