Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu addressed member countries at the informal meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Economic Cooperation Organisation.

In his speech, Minister Ertuğruloğlu said that it is a great injustice for Turkish Cypriots to be victimized by the continuation of the Cyprus problem, the responsibility for which cannot be attributed to them.  Ertuğruloğlu also addressed the ECO Secretary General Halil İbrahim Akça and thanked him for the support and cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots.

When addressing the international community, Ertuğruloğlu said that it is time to consider different solutions and alternatives to live in peace and stability in Cyprus and to establish strong neighbourly relations on the island.

The speech of Minister Ertuğruloğlu is as follows:

Mr. Chairman,
Mr. Secretary General,
Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished Delegates,

It is a distinct honour for me to address the informal meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). I extend to you all the heartfelt greetings of the Turkish Cypriot people and the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

At the outset, I would like to express our gratitude to H.E. Mr. Halil Ibrahim Akça, Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization, for his continued support and cooperation with us, the Turkish Cypriot people.

I would also like to thank the able staff of the Economic Cooperation Organisation Secretariat for their tireless efforts in organising this important meeting.

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Colleagues,

The Turkish Cypriot state, shares a common history and culture with the member states, and is fully committed to the objectives of the Economic Cooperation Organisation. The Turkish Cypriot state has been participating in the organization’s activities and events since 1992, and has been an observer member of the Economic Cooperation Organisation since 2012. We are ready and eager to contribute to the work of the organisation in the period ahead.

Excellencies,

I would like to take this opportunity to briefly touch upon the long-standing Cyprus question, which is at a very important juncture.

As known, despite the constructive efforts of the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey, the Cyprus negotiations have collapsed following the inconclusive outcome at the Cyprus Conference, which took place in Crans-Montana, Switzerland between 28 June and 7 July 2017 due to the intransigent and maximalist positions of the Greek Cypriot side and its insistence on perpetuating the status quo through open-ended negotiations. The said conference has clearly shown that after 50 years of negotiations the efforts within the framework of the parameters of the United Nations good offices for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation have been exhausted.

Thus, it is most unfair and inhuman to keep the Turkish Cypriot people captives of a problem which was neither initiated nor perpetuated by them.  In this regard, history speaks for itself, and I would like to put on record that former Greek Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Rolandis, admitted that the Greek Cypriot side had hampered in the past settlement efforts on fifteen (15) occasions. As former Secretary-General H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan stated in his report, dated 28 May 2004, the Greek Cypriot side is not ready to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriot people. This remains a correct diagnosis of the present situation in Cyprus.

We believe that with the support of the international community, other settlement alternatives should now be considered, with a view to establishing strong neighbourly relations with the Greek Cypriot people, living side by side in peace and stability. This is vital for the peace and stability of not just the island but also the region, which is at present fraught with conflicts.

Distinguished Delegates,

As you are aware, the TRNC is a young yet rapidly developing country with tourism and higher education as its two main economic sectors. Our country is emerging as a prominent tourism destination and centre of higher education in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In line with the ECO objectives which foresee tourism as another important area of cooperation to be explored and developed for the benefit of member states, we strongly believe that our country with its unspoilt nature, rich cultural and historical heritage, as well as many other attractions is an ideal holiday destination for our brothers and sisters from the ECO member countries.

According to the statistics so far in 2017, nearly 1 million tourists visited our country. There are around 133 holiday establishments with an overall bed capacity of 22,000. The accommodation ranges from 5 star luxury hotels to holiday villages. Our country also caters for special interest tourism. I must add that North Cyprus is an ideal destination for families from the Economic Cooperation Organization member states.

Excellencies,

Higher education constitutes an important sector of our economy. Today, there are 15 universities and nearly 90,000 students in North Cyprus. There are about 50,000 Turkish students from Turkey, 14,000 local Turkish Cypriot students, and 26,000 international students. Overall, we have students from 131 countries and teaching staff from 65 countries. This depicts the international and diverse character of our higher education.  It is a pleasure to state that about 5,500 of our students are from ECO member countries, mostly from Pakistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. It is our primary objective, in the period ahead, to further increase the number of students from ECO countries studying at our universities.

Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies,

We are actively encouraging foreign investment to North Cyprus and I would like to take this opportunity to invite investors from member countries to our country to get first hand information about the investment opportunities and the incentives offered by our government.

Investment opportunities exist especially in the tourism sector. Hotels and conference tourism, special interest tourism like yacht tourism and marina construction are just a few of the investment opportunities that await foreign business people in the sector. In addition to these, newly developing areas such as health tourism and agri-industry are considered as attractive fields of investment for the private sector and foreign investors.

Distinguished Delegates,

In line with the calendar of events adopted at the 13th ECO summit in Islamabad in March 2017, we will hold 2 ECO events in our country this year. “Second workshop on capacity building and best practices on biodiversity issues” will be held on 31 October – 2 November 2017, whereas “4th experts group meeting on ecotourism” will be held on 12 – 14 December 2017.

We look forward to welcoming participants from all member states to these important events and reiterate our desire to host more ECO events in our country in 2018.

Before I conclude, allow me to thank, once again, H.E. Mr. Halil Ibrahim Akça and the ECO Secretariat for their efforts in making this meeting a great success.

I thank you all for your most kind attention.

Source: TRNC Public Information Office –
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