I am truly delighted to be here with you today to commemorate the 241st anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America.
We celebrate the founding of a great nation, but, most importantly, we remember and honour all those, who fought to uphold these values and ideals, the heroes, who lost their lives in the service of human rights and freedom.
The Declaration of Independence was an act of bravery, a truly bold and revolutionary decision that has left lasting effects upon foreign nations, and inspired countless movements for independence around the world. It is an occasion that we, here in Cyprus, admire and celebrate.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Following my election in office, one of the main goals of our foreign policy has been to achieve a qualitative upgrade of our relations with the United States.
And on this day of celebration of a great nation, I think it is an opportunity to celebrate our relations as well. I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the excellent bilateral partnership between our countries and for our shared vision to enhance them further in a tangible manner.
Our relations have notably progressed to strategic depth, via, among others, our joint commitment, in the fight against asymmetric threats, such as terrorism, illegal drugs, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and development of nuclear weapons.
In this respect, I avail myself of this opportunity to express, once again, my Government’s, as well as my own determination and commitment, to work closely with the new US administration, in order to explore new areas of beneficial cooperation.
Cyprus has proven to be a stable and reliable strategic partner to the US, and to this end, we aim to build further our dialogue on issues of common concern during my forthcoming visit to the United States at the beginning of June.
Allow me to single out one area, which warrants a special reference, and this is energy. We warmly welcome and express our appreciation for the presence and involvement of American companies �Noble and now Exxon-Mobil- in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, working in partnership with our Government for the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves.
This marks a new era for our bilateral relations, and constitutes a tangible sign of confidence in the role of Cyprus as a reliable regional actor, that has adopted a stabilizing role in an otherwise volatile region.
Our vision is to transform the Eastern Mediterranean into an energy hub that would contribute to the region’s stability, through, among others, the diversification of energy sources and routes.
It is our strong belief that cooperation in this field can be the guiding-doctrine for the resolution of the region’s political problems, contributing to conditions of peace and security.
Taking this opportunity, and while talking about peace and security, I wish to refer to the Cyprus problem, and our own quest for peace through reunifying our country and its people.
As you are well-aware, we are currently at a critical juncture in the negotiating process. To this end, I submitted a proposal last week with the sole aim of preventing a protracted impasse in the process.
A proposal, which is fully consistent with what has been jointly agreed with the Turkish Cypriot leader, as recorded in the Announcements of the United Nations of 1st of December 2016, immediately prior to Geneva, of 12th of January 2017 in Geneva and of 1st of February in Cyprus.
My proposal would take us immediately to Geneva, and in order for the process to actually yield results, it includes:
First, convening a Conference on Cyprus for the completion of the discussions on critical Chapters of Security and Guarantees.
Second, when discussions on security and guarantees are competed, to proceed immediately to negotiations on territorial readjustments.
Third, following completion of discussions on territorial readjustments, to stay in Geneva for as long as is deemed necessary; essentially it would be a continuous summit of the leaders, not just in order to achieve substantial progress, but even to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem as well.
I strongly believe that this creative proposal could allow us to finally break the current impasse, bridge the differences, and establish the parameters, through a sequential approach and constructive negotiations to reach a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus problem.
I hope that the Turkish Cypriot side will positively respond to this proposal, in order to take the process forward. It is of utmost importance to remain committed to the continuation of the dialogue, work with determination, abandon any pretexts, and any unacceptable demands and preconditions that do not, in any way or form, serve the interests of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots.
Otherwise, as I have consistently and clearly conveyed to all stakeholders �considering the numerous outstanding issues, and the significant differences separating the two sides on a number of fundamental issues on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem, on which we have exhausted the dialogue- reproducing past practices and experiences, such as the Mont Pelerin and Geneva meetings, will doom a new Conference to failure.
On behalf of the Government and the people of Cyprus, I would like to express my gratitude for the principled stance and unwavering support of the United States on the Cyprus problem, and your significant contribution to the negotiating process.
Despite the difficulties we are facing, I wish to convey in the strongest manner that the Greek Cypriot side, and I personally, remain wholly committed to continue working tirelessly towards reaching a functional, viable and lasting settlement to the benefit of all Cypriots.
In this respect, I have no doubt that the United States �recognising the benefits that a settlement on the Cyprus problem would deliver not only for Cyprus but also for the region and the international community- will continue exerting its influence on Turkey to deliver concretely on its verbal commitment, and to contribute tangibly to the negotiating process.
Closing, I would like to express once again my sincere appreciation to Ambassador Doherty for the invitation to join your celebrations.
Let us all raise our glasses to the prosperity of our two countries, to the Cypriot and American people, and extend my warmest congratulations for the 241st anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America.
Source: Press and Information Office