Excerpts from the address by the President of the Republic at the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE, in Strasbourg

Excerpts from the address by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, on the occasion of the Republic of Cyprus’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, on Tuesday, January 24, 2017:

My presence here today is also a clear indication of the importance that the Republic of Cyprus attaches to the Council for its contribution in setting the foundations and developing the respect for the principles and values of European civilization.

Having as its key pillar the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe has succeeded in developing those institutions and bodies, with frontispiece the European Court of Human Rights, which have contributed substantially to the promotion, protection and respect for the individual rights of all of us who live in the European continent.

The existence of this European legal culture is a conquest of the European citizens and the Republic of Cyprus attaches great importance to the role of the Court as the depositary of the Convention, and honors its role and actions as the only mechanism for the protection of human rights. For this reason, the full and unconditional implementation of the decisions of the Court constitute an obligation for all of us, and a prerequisite for the consolidation and strengthening of the democratic security in Europe.

In the same context, Mr President, the Parliamentary Assembly plays a decisive role in promoting the fundamental principles that underpin the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly is a unique forum for democratic dialogue among representatives of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, a bridge that connects the peoples and the multicultural character of the organization, which enables mutual understanding and unanimity on the basis of shared principles and values.

It is for this reason that during the Cyprus chairmanship we will work more intensively in order to highlight the importance of the role that the Council of Europe can play to meet the important challenges that Europe collectively faces today.

The accession of Cyprus in 1961 to the Council of Europe was one of the very first decisions of our newly established state of the Republic of Cyprus. It was an indication of the deep commitment to the values that are advocated by the Council for the foundation of democratic institutions and values, the rule of law, as well as promoting cooperation among European states.

An important milestone for the Republic of Cyprus was the ratification in October 1962, of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, making it domestic law. Since then, Cyprus has ratified over 135 Council of Europe Conventions and is voluntarily subject to the jurisdiction of every single supervisory mechanism, which led to the continuous strengthening and enhancement of the rule of law and the human rights protection in Cyprus.

The major challenges Europe faces in recent years, namely the economic crisis, terrorism, migratory flows have contributed to the feeling of insecurity and uncertainty to citizens. Unfortunately they have reintroduced disturbing phenomena such as xenophobic rhetoric and hate rhetoric, the rise of populism and extremism. In this context, your initiative and the activity of the Parliamentary Assembly #NoHateNoFear #, is of great importance and I would like, dear President, to congratulate you for your important initiative.

In your actions lays the special message of the Cyprus chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, namely “Strengthening of Democratic Security in Europe.” We must work on the basis of our common values to enhance our democratic foundations and the rule of law and to invest in open, pluralistic, coherent and tolerant societies, and to rise against any form of fanaticism and hatred.

Within this context, one of the Cyprus Presidency priorities is the “Primacy of the Rule of Law”, which essentially forms the basis of every modern democracy. It is also one of the three main pillars of the Council of Europe and one of the European Union’s fundamental principles.

Given the challenges that Europe is currently facing, we need to engage in constructive dialogue with the citizens, to listen to their concerns and to seek to address them collectively.

Through our policies and actions we need to put into practice the concept of active citizenship and to this direction we consider particularly important the role of education and, more specifically, of democratic civic education, as recorded in the priorities of the Cyprus Chairmanship of the Council of Ministers.

Dialogue, cooperation, and the development of a culture of peaceful coexistence culture are extremely important elements in order to foster and consolidate the concept of active citizenship characterized by critical and constructive thinking, democratic ethos, democratic conscience and solidarity, and tolerance for diversity.

As we have learned from our experience in Europe, the promotion of fundamental rights is the essence of the European identity.

Through the strengthening of European structures and the investment in the process of European integration, with full respect to the values and principles of Europe our continent has managed to overcome many of the challenges that emerged after the Second World War.

The deepening of democratic security in Europe requires the effective cooperation among states, as well as between regional and international organizations.

The cooperation between the Council of Europe and the European Union has been very successful in promoting common values and goals in the European continent and neighboring countries. Of equal importance is also the Council’s cooperation with the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other regional organizations, in a way that adds value in achieving common aims.

At the same time, through resolutions and recommendations, the Parliamentary Assembly has repeatedly pronounced itself on the basic aspects of the Cyprus problem, such as:

A.) the major humanitarian issue of missing persons of the Cyprus tragedy

B.) the humanitarian issue of the enclaved,

C.) the issue of displaced persons,

D.) the issue of the fenced area of Famagusta,

E.) the destruction of the cultural heritage and

F.) the demographic alteration of the occupied areas by Turkey.

I would like to clarify from the outset that I do not intent to engage in a blame game. My intention is to brief you on the progress that has been achieved so far as well as about the main problems that we face � which are directly related with the need for united Cyprus to operate effectively.

New effort began 20 months ago which I must admit has produced results with regard to the chapters of governance and distribution of powers, Economy, EU and to a lesser degree on the chapter of Property.

Despite the progress achieved in important aspects of the problem, I should point out that there are still differences on a number of issues within the context of the above mentioned chapters with the most important ones being those concerning the property issue.

During the last few months we focused our efforts on discussing two crucial chapters, that of Territorial adjustments and Security and Guarantees.

Considering the importance of the security factor in Europe, let me dwell in particular on the Chapter that deals with the international aspect of the Cyprus problem and relates to the issue of Security and Guarantees.

With regard to the security dimension of the Cyprus issue, I have to refer to the Treaty of Guarantee, signed in 1960 between Cyprus and Turkey, Greece and Britain as guarantor powers.

I have to admit that the source of the problems that we face even to this day has been the Treaty of Guarantee which unfortunately allowed guarantors to interfere in the internal affairs of the then new state, culminating in the 1974 Turkish invasion on the pretext of restoring constitutional order following the coup by the military junta in Athens.

Unfortunately, instead of restoring constitutional order, Turkey forcibly took over the northern part of Cyprus (37% of the total area), forcing 167,000 of its Greek Cypriot inhabitants (1/3 of total Greek Cypriots) to fled their homes and move to the southern part of the island of Cyprus which is currently under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

We believe that such anachronistic arrangements can only cause problems and cannot constitute an answer to the legitimate concerns of the parties.

At the same time we have submitted a comprehensive proposal which effectively addresses the concerns of both communities.

The forthcoming period will play a decisive role in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

I am confident that if all parties, especially Turkey, proceed to the table with creative and construe approach then we can achieve a settlement to the Cyprus problem on the basis and in the framework of the European principles and values.

I want to reiterate my determination in order to achieve a solution that will truly reunite the Republic of Cyprus and most importantly one that will protect all its citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, one that will create a modern state totally compatible with its capacity as an EU member state and will create prospects for peaceful coexistence among the people of Cyprus.

Source: Press and Information Office