Akıncı: “7 months critical process in terms of Cyprus problem”
President Akıncı stated that we have entered into a new process which is of historical importance and the following seven months are very critical in terms of the Cyprus problem. “As we have underlined many times before, this process should be evaluated very well” Akıncı added.
Speaking at the joint press conference after meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Akıncı said “ We are ready to work to reach a federal solution on the basis of bi-zonality, bi-communality and political equality.”
Furthermore, Akıncı wished Greece and the other concerned sides to make their constructive contributions to reach a fair solution in Cyprus. “Our aim is to reach a solution in Cyprus in a short time but this does not mean that we will postpone everything after a solution. While we make efforts for a solution, at the same time we should also work much more to improve our communal living conditions to a better stage than today” Akıncı expressed.
Yıldırım: “We sincerely expect a solution within the next year”
The Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım stated that Turkey, as a guarantor country, sincerely hopes to reach a political settlement within the next year.
In his speech at the joint press conference following the meeting with President Mustafa Akıncı, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said: “Solution to the Cyprus problem will provide a significant contribution to the security, stability, cooperation and prosperity in the island. After the settlement, the true potential of the island will emerge and the underground treasures will be evaluated for both communities.
Stating that the on-going negotiations do not consist of only 6 chapters, Yıldırım said that a permanent settlement will be possible with the perspective of equal partnership.
On the other hand, Binali Yıldırım indicated that they will nevertheless continue to support the security issues and added that the 3-year period Economic and Financial Protocol which was signed with Turkey showed that all targets were fulfilled so far.
Yıldırım: “We did not take a step back in our case of more than half a century and we will not hereafter”
In his statement following the meeting with the Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım stated: “We have a case of more than half a century. This case has gone through several tests. Whatever the circumstances each time we did not give up what we know, we did not take a step back. After all of that we do not have any intention to take a step back. If a bi-communal, fair and sustainable management model is put into practice in the island, we have consensus about it. That is why we continue to support the negotiations with 6 chapters.
In this regard, he pointed out that the TRNC shows effort and sincerity to ensure a positive contribution to the on-going negotiations. Of course, if South Cyprus shows the same sincerity, a permanent consensus will be possible”.
In his statement, Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün said that today the Turkish Cypriot people cooperate with Turkey in every respect and have mutual trust and strengthening of ties with the great support of the Anatolian people.
Ertuğruloğlu: “We condemn regretfully the baseless claims of Kasulidis”
Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu condemned regretfully the baseless claims of the Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Yoannis Kasulidis referring to the TRNC as a “fake state” which is recognized only by Turkey.
In his written statement, Ertuğruloğlu said: “We request the Greek Cypriot side to avoid making such statements, to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible and to establish a new partnership government which is based on political and sovereign equality of the two peoples in the island.
Stating that the statement of Kasulidis revealed insincerity of the Greek Cypriot side once more towards a fair and comprehensive political settlement based on the political equality of both sides in the Cyprus issue, Ertuğruloğlu said: “The Cyprus problem started with the Greek Cypriots to expel its partner the Turkish Cypriots by force of arms from state organisations in 1963 and then they began to isolate the Turkish Cypriot people. Today, there are two separate communities in the island and an indisputable fact is that the legitimate TRNC is one of them. Ertuğruloğlu also emphasized that the main “fake state” is the Greek Cypriot side which violated the partnership and claimed to represent the whole island.”
The Committee on Missing Persons opens exhibition in New York
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, has expressed hope that the experience of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) can inspire broader efforts at bi-communal cooperation in Cyprus and beyond.
In his remarks at the opening in New York of a photo exhibition entitled “Beneath the Carob Trees” on the CMP work, the Secretary-General said that the Committee has achieved impressive results, stressing that its work is a critical step towards reconciliation in Cyprus.
“Its bi-communal teams of young Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot archaeologists have operated across the island and located and exhumed the remains of more than half of all missing persons. Of these, more than a third have been identified and returned to their families,” he said. He added that “all of this work has taken place in the absence of a comprehensive political settlement,” noting that “this powerfully demonstrates that when there is political will, effective cooperation between the two sides yields results.”
“It is my hope that the CMP experience can inspire broader efforts at bi-communal cooperation in Cyprus and beyond,” Ban said, adding that “Cyprus is a gateway to the Middle East, a region which today has the highest number of missing persons in the world.”
He noted that over the past three years, more than two dozen scientists from Iraq and Lebanon have been trained in the recovery and identification of human remains by the CMP, adding that cooperation with other countries, such as Iran, is due to begin later this year.
The book “Beneath the Carob Trees – The Lost Lives of Cyprus” by Rory MacLean and Nick Danziger was also distributed during the event.
Referring to the exhibition, the Secretary-General said that it tells a sombre story and shows how consequences of atrocities and their impact on lives can endure over decades.
“At the same time, these photographs offer a measure of solace. They illustrate the successful efforts in identifying human remains and in providing closure and dignity to long suffering families,” he added.
Ban expressed hope that the Committee can continue its efforts to find the nearly 1000 individuals yet to be recovered, and confidence that “work can continue to be an inspiration to others dealing with similar challenges.”
All three members of CMP underlined the particular importance of organising this event at the UN seat. The Third Member of the Committee, Paul-Henri Arni, spoke about the drama related to the issue of missing persons, adding that no person must experience such a spiritual hardship and uncertainty. He added that the exhibition will remain at the UN premises in New York until 10th June and will then be presented at the European Parliament in Brussels, and following that at the UN headquarters in Geneva.
Greek Cypriot member of CMP, Nestoras Nestoros, said that documented evidence reflects the work done at the CMP over a ten year period and encapsulates the meaning of words and images of the harsh truth about the lives of the unjustly perished in Cyprus.
“Two thousand Turkish and Greek Cypriots perished as a result of different tragic events, which is a huge number of people for an island with such a small population. Mothers, fathers, brothers, waited anxiously over the years for a knock at the door and the return of their missing loved ones. Unfortunately, the answer that we at the CMP have to give them is not the one that they desired,” he noted.
However, this tragic reality also has another effect which has a distinct value for the missing relatives. They are able to come to terms with the fate of their loved ones and it does eventually bring closure. With great strength but in great sadness they are able to put the past behind them and move on, he added. He said, “Today is a very special day for CMP and for me. I am here in the heart of the United Nations to epitomise the minimum tribute to the missing people of our island, Cyprus, through this modest ceremony. This is certainly unique and honorary,” he added.
He noted that “the book that we are presenting today is to be unique in character. It approaches the tragedy of decades that we are trying to soothe from another angle, not very familiar to the wider mass of people. For decades, the loved ones of the missing have been hoping that they were alive and well somewhere. Over the years various rumours have circulated, bringing more hope to these poor souls.”
Turkish Cypriot member of the Committee Gulden Plumer Kucuk said that CMP is a living project that constantly adapts to the needs and developments on the ground. The CMP work has changed Cyprus.
“Through this project I have learned that war and violence can destroy the future of people and how trauma is passed on to the future generations. It is very typical to heal the trauma of the relatives of the missing persons but addressing the issue and bringing closure to the issue is for their generation and to close the chapter for the future generation. We are digging for the past,” Kucuk noted.
Denktaş: “Referring to the TRNC as a fake state humiliates the Turkish Cypriots”
The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Serdar Denktaş criticized the statement of the Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Yoannis Kasulidis referring to the TRNC as a “fake state” and Denktaş also emphasized that it means to humiliate the Turkish Cypriots.
Furthermore, Denktaş also stated that even if the TRNC is recognized only by Turkey, it is a reality and exists with its democracy, land, language and human beings.
In his written statement, Denktaş said: “The statement of the Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Yoannis Kasulidis towards the TRNC as a “fake state” emphasises the perspective of the Greek Cypriot politicians for the Turkish Cypriots once again.”
Schulz expressed his support to the Leaders
The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has expressed his support to President Mustafa Akıncı and the Greek Cypriot Leader Nikos Anastasiades on the Cyprus negotiation process.
In a statement released via his twitter account, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said that he had spoken with the Greek Cypriot Leader Nikos Anastasiades by telephone and he expressed his support to Anastasiades and Akıncı to proceed with the talks in a positive climate and to finalize them in 2016.
CMP Members meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
On 1 June, the Members of the CMP, Ms. Gülden Plümer Küçük, Mr. Nestoras Nestoros and Mr. Paul-Henri Arni met with the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. The Members briefed the Secretary-General on progress made and challenges faced by the CMP.
The Secretary-General reaffirmed his support to the Members and expressed the United Nations’ commitment to provide access to all relevant archives for the purpose of helping the CMP find information on possible burial sites of missing persons. He further expressed hope that a pragmatic way would be found to obtain information from all other relevant archives.
On 31 May Ban Ki-moon opened a photo exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters which documents the work of the CMP in Cyprus. In his opening remarks, he underlined the importance of the CMP’s humanitarian work for reconciliation.
The CMP Members had additional meetings with the United Nations Departments of Political Affairs and Peacekeeping Operations as well as with the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP.
Religious Leaders of Cyprus came together
The Religious Leaders of Cyprus came together for a thanksgiving reception in honour of special friends of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP) who are scheduled to leave Cyprus this summer; Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Chief of Mission Lisa M. Buttenheim, H.E. the Ambassador of Finland Anu Saarela, UNFICYP Force Commander Major General Kristin Lund, and H.E. the Ambassador of Sweden Klas Gierow attended the reception.
“We are here to celebrate, to acknowledge, to recognize, to give thanks, to pledge. Despite setbacks or disappointments, we have hope. Dialogue and cooperation in Cyprus will persevere as the religious leaders know too well that a united witness for peace, a united voice for human rights is better than the success or failure of one alone” said Salpy Eskidjian, the Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP, who hosted the event on May 31, 2016 in the Buffer Zone in Nicosia. “Religion can be used to divide people, here thanks to the Religious Track, it is used to unite” said Mr. Espen Barth Eide in his address. “The religious leaders bringing the faith of communities together inspire the political leaders.” He praised the religious track as “truly inspiring” and he called on all Cypriots “to take a leap of faith for peace.”
Mufti of Cyprus, H.E. Dr. Atalay in thanking the honoured guests for all their support and good work for peace in Cyprus, expressed his sadness for their departure. He reiterated that as religious leaders’ “From the beginning we have been very supportive of free access to places of worship. In principle this is part of our religion, religious monuments should always be respected. We all support religious freedom. Our job is not to do politics but to create and build hope in the hearts of people so that our hearts, tongues and actions would be identical”.
All the religious leaders warmly thanked the Swedish government and the four guests of honour for their tireless efforts for Cyprus and their support to the Religious Track.
In the closing message, H.E Archbishop Y. Souief of the Maronite Church expressed his commitment that the religious leaders of Cyprus continue to work together “to build a culture of justice, a culture of peace, a culture of reconciliation, a culture of love not only in Cyprus but also in the region and become a beacon of hope everywhere.” The guests of honour gave heartening messages of support and encouragement, reiterating that the efforts of the religious track give them hope as they leave the island. They all expressed their wish that the religious leaders continue their peace building efforts and strive together for a reunited Cyprus where all Cypriots can live together in peace and the rights of all are respected.
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Pictures shown are courtesy of the TRNC Public Information Office Facebook page.