Statement by H.E. Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis

 Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus

 to the Third Committee, at the 59th Session of the General Assembly

 

on agenda item 105(b): "Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms"

 

New York, 2 November 2004

 

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first time, my delegation takes the floor, allow me to extend to you and to the members of the bureau our congratulations on your well-deserved election. I would also like to take this opportunity to reassure you of my delegationís full support in conducting the work of this committee.

Cyprus fully subscribes to the statement delivered by the distinguished Representative of the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union. I would like therefore to confine these remarks to human rights concerns deriving from the continuing division of my country, as a result of the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the subsequent military occupation of 37% of Cyprus í territory.

The latest report submitted to the Commission of Human Rights by the Secretary General of the United Nations last April (19 April 2004-E/CN.4/2004/27) reiterates that the impact of the division of the island, constitutes a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights, including freedom of movement, property rights and human rights issues pertaining to the situation of the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the northern part of Cyprus, as well as the question of the missing persons.

Regret has also been expressed that the de facto partition of the island prevents an adequate assessment of the human rights situation on the whole island. In July 2003, for instance, the Committee on the Rights of the Child in its concluding observations, (CRC/C/15/Add. 205), expressed the concern that the State Party, namely the Republic of Cyprus , is not in a position to exercise control over all of its territory and consequently cannot ensure application of the Convention in the areas not under its control.

Mr. Chairman,

At a time when the protection of human rights and the rule of law are widely recognized as the indispensable foundations of sustainable democracy, massive violations and widespread human rights abuses related to ongoing crises, or to the painful process of transition from conflict, continue to haunt a good number of societies making the need for immediate action more imperative than ever. Furthermore many thorny international problems emanating from human rights violations persist.

We have certainly a long way to go in terms of protecting and promoting human rights throughout the world. It is however promising that the international community, with the United Nations at the forefront, has acknowledged the inextricable link between human rights, rule of law, and sustainable development and has placed them, all together, at the top of its agenda. The Cyprus Government warmly welcomes the introduction of a human rights-based approach in the work of all UN agencies and programmes. Such an approach is a prerequisite for the achievement of our common vision of peace and development for all and everywhere. It is beyond doubt that only a human rights-based approach can yield equitable and sustainable results in creating circumstances conducive to long-standing peace, stability and development.

The Government of Cyprus remains fully committed to all efforts aiming at a better implementation of human rights obligations internationally as well as at the national level. It carefully follows the human rights situation throughout the world and adds its voice to those striving for strong national human rights institutions alongside, and complementary to, international and ecumenical ones. My Government works hard to ensure equal opportunities and promotion of the rights of all its citizens and it thus regrets the fact that, due to the existing division, it is not in a position to apply its policies to the whole of its territory or to fully respond to its conventional obligations. It continues, however, undeterred, with implementing Human Rights policies of very high standards aiming at all Cypriots equally.

The ongoing violations of the rights of the few remaining enclaved persons, in the occupied area of Cyprus constitute an issue of grave concern for my Government. The partial easing of restrictions of movement across the island and the recent re-opening of the Greek-Cypriot secondary school in Rizokarpaso are indeed positive and promising signs in the right direction but the 1975 Vienna III Agreement, which provides for the basic required standards of living for the enclaved persons is still far from implementation.

Another issue of grave concern for the Government of Cyprus is the ascertainment of the fate of the missing persons in Cyprus . The Government of Cyprus believes that a lasting solution to this issue is long overdue, welcomes in this respect the resumption of the work of the Committee on Missing Persons and expresses the hope that this time no more obstacles will be placed in the way of appropriately and definitely resolving this tragic and purely humanitarian issue.

Mr. Chairman

Cyprus , faced with its own problem of displacement and grave violations of property rights and freedom of settlement, attributes particular importance to the integration of a human rights perspective into issues of population displacement and property restitution.

In this regard, we warmly welcome the progress report of the Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro on housing and property restitution, which was adopted on 8 August 2004 by the sub-commission on the promotion and protection of human rights (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/22). The Government of Cyprus fully subscribes to the draft principles contained in the Report, on housing and property restitution for refugees and displaced persons, which clearly stress, inter alia, the right to freedom of movement and the right to freedom of residence, the right of all displaced persons to voluntarily return to their former homes, lands or places of origin in safety and dignity, as well as the right to use and peacefully enjoy oneís property. We strongly believe that the adoption of the aforementioned principles will provide a precious tool for the just and effective settlement of long-standing problems, pertaining to displacement and violations of property rights. We are also convinced that their application would significantly facilitate the resolution of one of the most serious parameters of the Cyprus problem.

Mr. Chairman,

The Cyprus issue remains in its essence an issue of foreign invasion and military occupation. The ongoing presence of more than 35 thousand occupying Turkish troops on its northern part, imposes an artificial division of the island and of its people, a premeditated division, along ethnic lines, which completely contradicts both the traditional character of the island as well as the will of the Cypriot people and is against any logic and any moral principle. Indeed, such a forcible division, ineluctably resulted in massive violations of human rights, as clearly reported by numerous reports of the Secretary General of the United Nations and the decisions of various international bodies. No real remedy to these violations can be found without the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Cyprus , in the same way that, no comprehensive functional and lasting solution can be achieved, without the restoration of the human rights of all of its citizens.

Suggestions that Turkey has acquitted itself of its obligations in the reunification process and with regard to human rights in Cyprus, because the Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the Annan plan some months ago, while it continues occupation and colonization of the northern part of Cyprus, are  simplistic, self-serving and mistaken. Turkey would substantively contribute to the reunification and reconciliation process only if it withdrew its forces from Cyprus , respected established international rules of human rights, and abided by the Security Council resolutions on Cyprus and international law. The accession of Cyprus to the EU and Turkey ís aspiration to become  EU member should be seen as a window of opportunity that offers new horizons and prospects that could be creatively utilized in order to achieve protection of human rights through a solution in line with international human rights standards and the European Unionís acquis.

Thank you Mr. Chairman

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