ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF CYPRUS
H.E. MR. IOANNIS KASOULIDES
Ladies and gentlemen,
The 15th of November marks a truly black moment in the recent history of Cyprus.
The unilateral declaration of independence by the separatist entity in the occupied territories is a stark reminder of Turkey’s expansionism and revisionism.
Unequivocally, it was the direct result of the invasion of the island by Turkey.
The international community has strongly condemned the unilateral declaration of independence.
In one of its strongest Resolutions, the UN Security Council deplored the declaration of the purported secession of part of the Republic of Cyprus, considered the declaration as legally invalid and called for its withdrawal, as well as all States not to recognize any other state on the island except the Republic of Cyprus.
39 years on our struggle continues.
Our effort in an ever more complex world is multifaceted.
We have sought to expand the horizons and broaden the spectrum of our foreign policy to help better promote the Cyprus Reunification Process.
I would like to thank PSEKA for the invitation to participate in this event. I am glad technology allows me to take part from London as my bilateral meetings here do not permit my physical presence with you.
I express my appreciation for the participation of Chairman Menendez. His role in bringing Cyprus and the US closer together has been vital.
I would also like to thank Senator Van Hollen and Representatives Bilirakis, Malliotakis, Pappas, Sarbanes and Titus for their participation.
Ever since 2013 when I joined the Foreign Ministry for a second term, reaffirming the position of Cyprus, unequivocally, as a valuable member of the western alliance was at the top of my agenda.
The relations with the US, in the past decade have improved exponentially. The US was able to see the regional role Cyprus can play. We are thankful to Senators
The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 paved the way for the lifting of the US arms embargo. We are thankful to Chairman Menendez for his leadership in introducing this legislation
When Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine last winter, we immediately revoked all licenses to Russian warships to visit ports in Cyprus for refueling.
At that point, opportunity presented itself to finally meet the last requirement set out by the US Congress.
Recently, the US government has proceeded with the full lifting of the embargo.
The obvious and very important result is that US technology is now available for procurement by our military.
Moreover, it opens the door to a closer interoperability and cooperation with partners in the region, Europe and beyond.
We endeavor to be a uniquely secure and stable exception in this much troubled region.
We are currently in the middle of cataclysmic developments in the European space.
The brutal war waged by Russia against Ukraine has met the heroic Ukrainian defenders and the unified response of the west, utilizing all available tools in our arsenal.
The ripple effect of this war has been, not surprisingly, far reaching.
We aim to “nudge” Russia’s leadership away from the violation of international legal norms and towards a rules-based international order.
With our own tragic experience of foreign military invasion and the continuing Turkish occupation of more than a third of our territory, we are in a position to understand the tragic situation in Ukraine.
We therefore did not hesitate to clearly and strongly condemn Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.
Our support to the territorial integrity, independence, sovereignty & unity of Ukraine has been unequivocal.
This is a matter of principle for our island.
Cyprus has fully backed all of the sanctions packages implemented at the EU level.
In response to the pain and suffering of Ukrainians, Cyprus dispatched the largest humanitarian aid package in our country’s history.
This was the result of contributions and donations by the state, private corporations and, most importantly, individual citizens.
During this most difficult time we continue to provide Ukrainians seeking refuge in Cyprus with the full spectrum of welfare support available in our country.
It is paramount that we signal both to Russia and other regional and global actors that “might does not make right”.
The message should be clear.
Work within a set of accepted norms or miss out on the fruits of economic cooperation.
That brings me to the Eastern Mediterranean, where all these issues are extremely pertinent.
The discord between stability-minded actors and spoilers.
Cyprus and Greece have been working diligently over the last 10 years, to construct a matrix in which all countries in the East Med may co-operate harmoniously for mutual benefit.
The common ground is adherence by all to a set of principles that have come to define the international system following World War II.
Every single regional actor has bought into this concept and the resulting trilateral mechanisms, as you are aware, are now established and functioning efficiently.
Such has been the success of this project that other countries have been seeking to become part of the equation.
The 3+1 format tying together Cyprus, Greece and Israel with the US is now a fact and at the most recent meeting at Foreign Ministers level, specific objectives were agreed, which will yield in due course tangible results.
It is of course unfortunate that one regional actor not only refuses to join in this great example of regional multilateralism but, even worse, seeks to upend it.
In this particular case, is Ankara interested in a regional, rules-based order from which everyone stands to gain?
Or is it playing a zero-sum game in an effort to exert regional dominance at the expense of the rest?
The hybrid threats and daily violations from the skies above the Aegean islands, to the ground in the UN Buffer zone here in Cyprus and on the water, from the Libyan Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey challenges the sovereignty of its closest neighbors.
We have been witnessing recently unprecedented efforts by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to embark on a process to upgrade the status and seek for international recognition of the secessionist entity in the occupied Cyprus
Turkey has set as a pre-condition the recognition of sovereign equality to the resumption of negotiations and has moved away from the agreed UN framework.
This has happened against the backdrop of our efforts and bold initiatives to build confidence between the two communities in Cyprus.
Turkey’s rhetorical insanity has grown from a regional menace to a broader “elephant in the room”.
Its murky deals with Russia, more recently, and Iran, in the past, are being closely followed by government authorities in the EU and the US.
Some states are already investigating or even prosecuting sanctions violations by some of Turkey’s financial institutions.
Turkey has had a dark role in upsetting stability and threatening security - from Africa and the Middle East to the Caucasus and beyond.
We cannot afford the luxury of wishful thinking when it comes to such crucial matters.
We have implored partners to utilize all available channels to get the message across and bring Turkey on a steady course away from its chauvinist expansionism towards a rules-based regional multilateralism.
On our side, Cyprus has sought to underline that it is a credible, dependable and predictable partner to our allies and friends in Europe and beyond. I am certain that we will continue on the same path in the coming years