SAFEGUARDING peace and stability in Cyprus by working toward a settlement of the decades-long dispute is his government’s primary objective, President Nicos Anastasiades told world leaders yesterday.
“A few months ago my country received unprecedented international attention due to the economic crisis,” Anastasiades said in an address to the UN general assembly in New York.
“My political vision is for Cyprus to receive yet again international attention, but this time for all the right reasons,” he said.
“And this points to the end of the long-standing anachronistic division of my country.”
He added: “It is my firm belief that the current status quo is unacceptable and its prolongation would have further negative consequences for the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Thus, a comprehensive settlement is not only desirable, but should not be further delayed,” Anastasiades noted.
Giving renewed impetus to stalled reunification efforts requires bold action, “game changers,” creating a win-win situation for both communities on the island but also for all interested stakeholders, the President said.
One such bold step, he said, is his own package of proposals which includes the return of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants under UN auspices in line with UN Security Council Resolution 550.
In addition to boosting economic activity and creating jobs in both communities, Famagusta’s infrastructural restoration would re-invigorate hopes for a solution.
“Greek and Turkish Cypriots will come closer to the realisation of the benefits of sharing together a prosperous future, just as we have done so in the past,” he said.
Referring to Turkish President Abdullah Gul as “my friend,” Anastasiades said Greek Cypriots’ rejection of a UN peace blueprint in a 2004 referendum does not absolve Ankara from its obligation in seeking a just settlement on Cyprus.
Nonetheless, Anastasiades welcomed Turkey’s “positive response” to a recent proposal of holding meetings with the chief Greek Cypriot negotiator.
Earlier this week, and following a request from Nicosia, Greece agreed to meet the Turkish Cypriot negotiator so that the Greek Cypriot negotiator could have direct contact with Ankara
The disclosure was made by Greek foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos after a meeting he held with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in New York.
Anastasiades stressed that before new talks can begin in earnest, the two sides must agree some ground rules and objectives, the key being “the evolving transformation of the Republic of Cyprus in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state, with a single international personality, single sovereignty and single citizenship.”
Although the European Union should play a part in the negotiating process, its role would “merely supplement and complement the UN Good Offices Mission.”
Referring to the discovery of hydrocarbons in the Levant basin, Anastasiades said energy should not be a source of conflict but rather a catalyst for conflict resolution.
Also yesterday, on the sidelines of the general assembly Anastasiades met with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. The talks focused on bilateral economic cooperation and the prospect of Chinese investment in Cyprus, including real estate and energy.
Yi extended the President an invitation to visit China; the precise date of the official trip is to be arranged via diplomatic channels.
Today the President will be meeting with the US Vice President Joe Biden in Washington, DC.