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PSEKA resolution focuses on troops, Varosha, missing persons and religious freedom

PSEKA calls on Turkey to immediately allow experts into Varosha

The head of the International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus,” (PSEKA), Philip Christopher said that overseas Greek and Cypriot organisations will only support a solution of the Cyprus problem if it safeguards human rights, fundamental freedoms and the European acquis communautaire.

Christopher, along with other PSEKA members, and delegations of other Greek and Cypriot overseas organisations, had a meeting on Thursday with the US Vice President Joe Biden, where they discussed the Cyprus problem.

Biden, Christopher said, expressed optimism about the prospects of a Cyprus solution, and said he had received and read the letter sent by the overseas organisations regarding their concerns over ‘false optimism’ for a solution of the Cyprus problem in 2016.

According to Christopher, “we acknowledge the intense personal interest of the US vice president for a Cyprus solution” but there is no real indication on behalf of the Turkish government to support any statements of Turkish officials in favour of the solution.

“Without them, we do not see how there could be agreement for a solution,” he said.

He added that the US vice president assured them he would continue his efforts in the remaining six months of his term and that conditions are the right ones.

Meanwhile, PSEKA, following the end of the its 32nd congress, which took place in Washington DC earlier in the week, unanimously adopted a resolution which includes four confidence building measures to ensure a successful Cyprus peace negotiation process. They are also asking for an immediate and substantial draw down of Turkish troops from the island.

The resolution notes that “given the constant peaceful interaction between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and the simultaneous need for troops to deal with the threat of ISIL and violence in Turkey, it borders on the absurd to maintain an occupation army – which continues to occupy Cyprus with American made arms in contravention of US law – that equals the size of the surge force the Obama Administration sent into Afghanistan”.

The resolution said that these troops could be reassigned as part of Turkey’s commitment to fighting ISIL, without Ankara losing face. It and would also address the main reason why the 2004 Annan Plan was voted down as 75 per cent of those who voted “No” in that referendum listed “security” as their reason for voting so.

The resolution also refers to the Turkish occupied fenced off city of Varosha, noting that
the town may be the greatest symbol of what a new reunified Cyprus could mean.

“The proposal to survey Famagusta/Varosha should be revived and should start immediately, with both communities and international experts participating. This could singlehandedly show that Turkey is committed towards seeing reunification through. Allowing experts into Varosha as the negotiations on the political issues proceed is a non-irreversible goodwill gesture with highly practical and symbolic effects island-wide and internationally,” the resolution said.

It also noted the need for an accelerated process for resolving the issue of the missing persons, and called on Turkey to lift all remaining obstacles, including opening its military archives and making military sites available to the missing persons committee (CMP) immediately.

Finally, the resolution stressed the need to lift the restrictions on religious services, imposed recently by the Turkish Cypriot authorities. This “is a stunning setback on Cyprus” the resolution said noting that while there had been welcoming indications that this decision would be reversed, Turkish Cypriots must immediately lift this restriction in full.

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