It is indeed a great honor and a privilege for me to present the Letters of Credence accrediting me as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States of America. I also avail myself of this occasion to present the Letter of Recall of my predecessor, Ambassador Andreas J. Jacovides.
I have also the honor and distinct pleasure, Mr. President, to convey to you and to the people of your great nation the cordial greetings and best wishes of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, His Excellency Mr. Glafcos Clerides, and those of the people of Cyprus.
The Government of Cyprus, Mr. President, attaches particular importance to maintaining and further strengthening the close bonds of friendship and cooperation already existing between our two countries. Despite their contrast in terms of size and strength, Cyprus and the United States subscribe to the same high ideals and principles; those of peace, freedom, democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law. We take great pride in the fact that these and other ideals which have shaped today's Western civilization originated in our part of the world more than 2,000 years ago. In this regard, I wish to specifically refer to the Cypriot philosopher and founder of the Stoic School, Zenon of Kition, who propagated, inter alia, the ideas of a juridical framework for human societies, tolerance and brotherhood among people, and above all, the concept of cosmopolis.
I am pleased to note, Mr. President, that our traditionally friendly relations continue to grow further in all fields, as was recently reaffirmed during President Clerides's successful visit to Washington last June. Evidence of our expanding and deepening relations is seen, for example, in our close cooperation in combating various forms of international crime and supporting and facilitating American-led political and humanitarian initiatives in the region. In the trade field, our relationship has reached the high point where the United States is now the largest supplier of imports to Cyprus. An additional significant bond linking our two countries is the notable presence of American citizens of Cypriot origin who actively and constructively participate in all domains of American life.
It is for me, Mr. President, a particular pleasure to be among the first group of ambassadors to present credentials since the November elections, and may I take this opportunity to once again express to you the warmest congratulations of the Government and of the people of Cyprus on your re- election to the Presidency of the United States. We are confident that you will successfully guide your great nation towards the 21st century and that your administration will mark this new era in world affairs with the seal of the principles and ideals which inspired the Founding Fathers, namely, freedom, democracy, and full respect for human rights.
Mr. President, your commitment to a policy based on these principles was a strong feature of your campaign, and the American people have renewed their faith in your leadership. You have been entrusted with the challenge of building the bridge to the 21st century. With the support of the American people and all other free-thinking people throughout the world, we are confident that you will successfully meet this challenge. Cyprus, Mr. President, would like to be aboard and stands ready to make its own contribution in achieving peace, security and prosperity, with freedom and justice for all. This is our vision for Cyprus, too: by the year 2000 to have achieved our country's accession to the European Union as well as its reunification.
Mr. President, your commitment to a principled foreign policy offers to the American people and the international community at large the assurance of a new, more dynamic involvement of your administration in effectively addressing international problems and in assuring that justice and the rule of law become common, universally-held values which are implemented in every part of our planet.
In this regard, allow me to express the appreciation of my Government for your personal interest in the resolution of the Cyprus issue and the steps you have taken so far in order to advance this goal, as reflected, among other, in making it a high foreign policy priority, appointing a Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus, maintaining your administration's active engagement in the efforts to promote a resolution of the Cyprus problem, including dispatching to the region last July Ambassador Albright, your new Secretary of State, sustaining the annual U.S. bilateral assistance program to Cyprus, and playing an active role in encouraging the European Union's all important decision which set a firm date for the commencement of accession negotiations with Cyprus. Unfortunately, these steps have not yet attained their objective, and the Cyprus problem remains unresolved after 22 years of foreign occupation and forcible division with ominous implications for international peace in the most strategically important Eastern Mediterranean region. The recent unjustified and unwarranted killings of Cypriot citizens, involving Turkish occupation forces and members of the extremist organization "Grey Wolves" in the U.N.-buffer zone, against which you spoke out forcefully, offer a clear indication of the gravity of the situation which may take on broader dimensions with negative repercussions for security and stability in an already unstable area surrounded by the emergence of fanatic elements of fundamentalism and intolerance.
Your recent reassurance, Mr. President, that such incidents and the continued division of the island are unacceptable and that you will continue to actively press for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Cyprus, as well as your repeatedly expressed personal commitment to achieve the long overdue solution of the problem, are a source of encouragement and hope for the Government and the people of Cyprus. The United States, Mr. President, is uniquely placed to help make this a reality. In the search for peace, the United States is indeed the world's indispensable nation. And in Cyprus, if I may note, your interests are clear, your values are at stake, and you can certainly make a difference.
The continuing impasse, Mr. President, is, as attested to by a number of official U.N. assessments, essentially due to the lack of political will and intransigence of the Turkish side. The continuation of the Cyprus question which, in its essence, is an international problem of invasion, occupation and foreign aggression in violation of international law and morality, constitutes a tragic anachronism. The medieval practice of the prevalence of brute force over weaker countries should have no place in today's new world order. Countries that proclaim attachment to democratic values and the principles of international law are obliged to prove their commitment by respecting in deed the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, freedom and the democratic rule of other countries, irrespective of their size or strength.
The people of Cyprus, Mr. President, ask no more than to be allowed to live free and to enjoy the liberties other Western and European nations do. Our desire is to achieve a solution which guarantees every freedom and human right for all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, in a reunited, federal, demilitarized Cyprus.
Towards this end, Mr. President, my Government has submitted several generous proposals and has already made a whole series of concessions in the earnest hope that these would be reciprocated by the other side so that an overall solution to the problem could be found. In this regard, may I note in particular, the comprehensive and far reaching proposal submitted by President Clerides for the complete demilitarization of Cyprus which has garnered considerable international support, including here in the United States Congress. It is a bold and constructive proposal, and I would, if I may, commend it to you as meriting your administration's full support.
The Government of Cyprus stands firm by its decision to continue to do its utmost to pursue peace on the island, despite the recent provocations for military confrontation.
We remain committed to achieving, at the earliest possible time, a just and lasting solution based on the High-Level Agreements and relevant United Nations Resolutions. It is in our view imperative that common ground between the parties on the fundamentals is first reached in order to assure good prospects for successful negotiations. In this context, we welcome and sincerely appreciate the international community's efforts to this end.
The unique opportunity for a solution offered by the prospect of Cyprus's accession to the European Union should not be wasted. Your administration's commitment that 1997 should be the year of Cyprus, has revived the hopes of all Cypriots that the long-awaited reunification date is finally within reach. Mr. President, this year indeed presents one of those rare and fleeting moments of opportunity that should be made the most of.
Today's event, Mr. President, has also a double personal significance for me. In the first place, this is the third time that I have been privileged to be assigned to serve my country in Washington. During the many years I have spent in this blessed country, I had the opportunity to know and appreciate the values and virtues of the American people. Secondly, I consider myself fortunate to be presenting my credentials as Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States to a President committed to setting his personal seal on the resolution of a problem that has for so many years vexed the international community and threatened international peace.
With these few thoughts, Mr. President, I wish to solemnly assure you that during my tenure of office I shall spare myself no effort in further strengthening the friendly relations between our two countries. On embarking upon my mission, I express the hope that in this endeavor I will have the privilege of your assistance and that of your government.
Finally allow me, Mr. President, to extend my warmest greetings and best wishes to you and to your family for personal happiness and well-being, for the success of your administration, and to wish the American people continued success, happiness and prosperity.