July 20th, 2021, marks 47 years since the Turkish military invasion of the Republic of Cyprus. This date will always serve, and does so today, as a painful reminder οf the tragedies that ensued from this act of aggression: of the many victims of the Turkish invasion we continue to grieve for; of the missing persons that remain unaccounted for; of the survivors who lost their loved ones or continue to be unaware of their fate.
Today and every day we owe a special tribute to all of them, Cypriots and Greeks. Today is a reminder of their sacrifices and their heroism.
Almost five decades after the Turkish invasion and 17 years after the Republic of Cyprus joined the EU family, the illegal occupation of over a third of the country persists. Throughout the years, and to this day, Cyprus and Greece have remained united in their unwavering commitment for a solution to the Cyprus Question according to the agreed and binding-for-all UN framework for a bizonal, bicommunal, federal, mutually acceptable, settlement.
One that guarantees political equality and respects the Republic of Cyprus’ single sovereignty and independence. This is how Cyprus and Greece have always approached any and all UN-led initiatives, including the recent efforts, last April, of the UN Secretary-General to rekindle the negotiation process.
Regrettably, that has not been the case with Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side. Yet, their attempts to legitimize their illegal fait accompli, by proposing “alternative” ideas will not deceive or mislead anyone.
The root cause of the Cyprus problem is Turkey’s illegal invasion of 1974 and occupation of the northern part of the island ever since. Thus, there is no room for any “alternative” settlement. There is only one legitimate framework for the settlement of the Cyprus Question and that is the one established by the UN Security Council Resolutions.
Today we recall to our memory the tragic events of July 20th, 1974, and recommit to the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to reach a solution to the Cyprus Question in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and the EU acquis.
Unfortunately, these efforts are being greatly undermined by Turkey’s continued illegal and aggressive conduct against Cyprus, both on land and at sea.
Today’s announcements by the Turkish side, on the very anniversary of the tragic events of 1974, are one more testament -if one was needed- of Ankara’s completely unacceptable position on the way ahead.
Despite the grave challenges, Cyprus and Greece stand united in our commitment for promoting peace, security, stability and development in our wider neighborhood. United in our call for respect of international legality, international law and UNCLOS. United in our pioneering efforts to promote dialogue, cooperation and development with key partners in the region and beyond.
We rely on our friends and strategic partners, such as the US and our fellow EU member states, to stand with us in protecting our collective interests and common values. We also rely on you, the vast community of Cypriots and Greeks abroad, to continue to communicate this noble cause and the principles and ideals Cyprus and Greece have always stood for.
On days like this one, this message and, at the same time, our vision for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Eastern Mediterranean, becomes all the more important. It is a message and vision that we share with the vast majority of our neighbors and our partners, including the United States.
In the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, in close cooperation and coordination with Cyprus as well as with the genuine and effective support of the United States, has initiated and is being actively engaged in the further deepening and expanding of our multilateral, multisectoral partnerships with Egypt, Israel and other countries of the broader neighbourhood.
The significance of these partnerships to security and stability, regional and international at large, is already being widely acknowledged. Both the US-Greek strategic relations and the US-Cyprus enhanced partnership are indispensable components for promoting our common vision of the Eastern Mediterranean as an area of peace, stability and prosperity.
Today we bow our heads in honor of those who bravely stood up to the aggressor and defended the freedom of the Republic of Cyprus 47 years ago, many paying the ultimate price, others forced to live with the wounds that can never heal. Their sacrifice and pain are always with us. Their memory will continue to guide us.