Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus
Ambassador Sotos Zackheos to the General Assembly
Building a Peaceful and Better World Through Sport and the Olympic Ideal

November 1997

Mr. Chairman,

I would like, at the outset, to express my pleasure for the great number of countries that co-sponsored the present resolution, which shows the importance that the international community places on the Olympic ideal.

The great challenge now is to take the first practical steps towards turning into reality the observance of the Olympic Truce during the summer and winter Olympics, beginning with the winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, from 7 to 22 February 1998.

The Olympic Truce is an expression of the yearning of mankind for peace, understanding, reconciliation and for the noble notion of distinction, based on honest competition. In the search for excellence every athlete is equal; and victory is the result of ability, training, hard work and perseverance. Discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, sex or otherwise is incompatible with the Olympic spirit.

It is important, to strengthen adherence to the Olympic ethics, especially the need to conduct the Ganes in a fair way. In this context the efforts against the use of prohibited anabolic and other drugs are to be commended.

Cyprus, a small country, has followed since its independence an active foreign policy based on the principles of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations, which coincide and fully adhere with the Olympic ideals.

The latest manifestation of our determination to become a bridge of peace in our sensitive region in the Eastern Mediterranean and a homeland of harmony and understanding for all communities living on the island is the proposal of President Clerides for the demilitarization of Cyprus. We renew, on this solemn occasion, our appeal for the acceptance of this proposal, so that Cyprus will be able to participate in the next Olympics as a reunited and peaceful state.

Mr. Chairman,

The people of Cyprus felt immense satisfaction with the decision of the International Olympic Committee concerning the hosting of the Olympic Games of 2004 in Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Movement. We interpret this decision as an appeal for a new beginning and as an expression of the collective will of mankind to make the 21st century a period of serious efforts for peace, the advancement of social progress and prosperity. The 20th century which is approaching its end has seen two world wars, ideological antagonisms, regional and local conflicts, and the policy of ethnic cleansing. It is hoped that human rights and the respect of international law will be the norm of the day in the new millenium. I would like, in conclusion, to express our appreciation for the great efforts of the International Olympic Committee in imbuing the youth with these ideals, which is a guarantee of a better and more humane world.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.