Mr. President,

I would like to extend my warmest congratulations on your election as President of this august body. I have no doubt that your diplomatic experience and proven leadership will guide successfully our work.

Allow me also to thank your distinguished predecessor, Minister Hennadiy Udovenko of Ukraine, for the determined leadership with which he steered the work of the fifty-second session. Mr. President,

The United Nations, being the primary vehicle for the pursuit of world peace, has striven, throughout its existence, to make the world a better place to live in.

Despite the adversities of many forms caused particularly by opposing national interests, violent conflicts, natural disasters and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the United Nations has pursued consistently the noble goals enshrined in its Charter, first and foremost being the elimination of the scourge of war and the achievement of economic development.

To be realistic, however, the hopes of mankind for a new and genuinely just international legal and political order, generated by the demise of the bipolar world, are yet to be realized.

Cyprus reaffirms its commitment to work closely with the other members of our organization for the attainment of our common goals.

We support, therefore, the reform efforts of the Secretary-General HE Mr. Kofi Annan, to streamline the operations of the Organization in a way that would assure its ability to pursue its goals, meet the new challenges and safeguard its financial position.

We stress once more the importance of restructuring the Security Council to make it more representative and transparent.

Cyprus welcomes the adoption of the Statute of a Permanent International Criminal Court, empowering it to bring to justice the perpetrators of most serious crimes and violations of humanitarian law. In this respect we consider as very important the first ever judgment, by the International Criminal Court of Rwanda, on the crime of genocide.

Special concern is the rising number of refugees and internally displaced persons. Their plight calls not only for international cooperation in providing protection and humanitarian assistance but also for addressing the root causes of displacement. We continue to believe that the best solution is the return of refugees to their homes in conditions of safety with full protection of their human rights.

Cyprus condemns terrorism which it considers a menace to humanity, requiring effective international action and solutions on the basis of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations.

The situation in the Middle East continues to be characterized by lack of progress and obstacles in the implementation of the Peace Accords. The current stalemate poses a threat to the stability of the region. Cyprus, a neighboring state with close relations to the parties involved, reiterates its support for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement based on the relevant United Nations resolutions.

I would like to reiterate my country's support for the documents adopted at the Special Session on the World Drug Problem and for the relevant efforts of the United Nations.

Cyprus welcomes the recent report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Africa. His recommendations merit serious consideration and support by the international community. We believe that the international community should redouble its efforts towards assisting African countries, with special attention given to debt relief, so that they can avoid further instability and the danger of marginalization.

Cyprus joined in the world-wide rejoicing for the agreement of last April concerning Northern Ireland. It is important for the sides to honour their responsibilities and meet their commitments. We condemn acts of violence which should not be allowed to block the road to peace, reconciliation and prosperity.

Cyprus supports strongly the efforts in the area of arms control and disarmament and since my last appearance before this body, we ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention and we also signed and will soon ratify the Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines.

I should emphasize in the respect that, in spite of its difficult situation in the face of the presence of an occupation army of 36,000 troops, Cyprus has, nevertheless, decided to sign the Convention, as an expression of our determination to join the forces struggling to eliminate this utterly cruel method of warfare. We are grateful to Canada for promising to finance the undertaking to clear the minefields along the cease-fire line in my country.

Mr. President,

The United Nations has a special role to play in the promotion of the well-being of small states. Small states are often exposed to a much greater degree than larger states to threats because of increased vulnerability to their environment and security.

In this connection, Cyprus suffers for more than 24 years the grave consequences of the Turkish invasion and continuing occupation of more than on third of its territory. Despite the pronounced will of the international community through numerous resolutions and the willingness of the Greek Cypriot side to negotiate in good faith, no solution of the Cyprus problem has resulted. It is therefore reasonable to ask why. The answer is: It is because of the non-implementation and flagrant violation of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by Turkey.

I feel that it is necessary to give some examples of these flagrant violations which prevented solution of the Cyprus problem. Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions calling for the respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and the non recognition of the Turkish Cypriot breakaway «state», were violated by Turkey which is the only state which recognized the Turkish Cypriot secessionist entity, and sustains it financially and militarily.

As regards Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions calling for the speedy withdrawal of all foreign armed forces and personnel from the Republic of Cyprus, not only the Turkish Armed Forces and personnel have not been withdrawn but they have been increased and upgraded to such an extent that the previous Secretary-General Mr. Boutros Ghali described in his report to the Security Council the occupied part of Cyprus as the most militarized area in the world.

UN resolutions for the return of the refugees to their homes under conditions of safety were not implemented not only because Turkish Forces prevented the refugees to return, but also because Turkey, violating other provisions of UN resolutions calling on all parties concerned to avoid any action to change the demographic composition of the population of Cyprus, imported to Cyprus thousands of illegal settlers from Turkey, usurped the properties of the refugees and installed settlers into them. I could go on giving examples of gross violations of UN resolutions by Turkey, but in order to confine my address to the time limits allowed, I will refer only to the latest violation.

The recent demand of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash in the presence of the Turkish Foreign Minister for a confederation solution violates all UN resolutions, which call for a bizonal bicommunal federation, with a single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship, and is aimed at derailing the negotiating process from the base of the UN resolutions on Cyprus, but also at extinguishing the independence of the Republic of Cyprus and creating, under the guise of a Turkish Cypriot Republic a Turkish colony in Cyprus or to say the least a Turkish protectorate.

The non-implementation of United Nation Resolutions on Cyprus tarnishes the image of the United Nations and its main bodies. The former Secretary-General Mr. Boutros Boutros Ghali has, in one of his reports to the Security Council identified that a cause for the absence of progress in Cyprus is the lack of political will on the part of the Turkish side. With that report the diagnosis of the causes of the failure to make progress towards a solution is completed. Is it too much for the people of Cyprus to ask what will the next step be? Will the United Nations finally take the necessary action to apply the required remedy in order to put an end to the tragedy that has befallen our small state and which continues for 24 years?

The international community should not allow one state to violate for so long its expressed will. The Security Council, the main organ for international peace and security, should proceed with examining how to implement its resolutions the soonest possible.

I now want to address the problem of Cyprus, not by looking at the past, but by outlining my goals for the future. The Cyprus problem has been with us for over 40 years. Today, the two communities of Cyprus are led by the generation that was involved in the earliest stages of the Cyprus problem. This generation knows both the joys of friendships that crossed communal lines and the tragedies and suffering that also crossed communal lines.

Rauf Denktash and I are both members of this generation that has seen the best and the worst of the recent history of Cyprus. Our communities have entrusted us with their respective leadership. The people of Cyprus, both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, look to us, their leaders, to help shape a future that is better than the present and that will not allow for a repetition of the past.

Let me offer my vision for the future. I want all Cypriots to have security-in their homes and their communities; I want all Cypriots to pursue their livelihoods free of economic restrictions and the fear of instability; I want all Cypriot children to know their distinct cultural and religious heritage and to be able to carry their identity and political rights into the future without fear of domination from any quarter.

The solution of any constitutional problem on the basis of communal or ethnic criteria and Federalism contains elements of partnership and political equality of the constituent parts.

The solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bicommunal bizonal federation requires such a partnership of the two communities as would constitutionally provide for a maximum degree of internal self administration to the two constituent cantons, provinces or states and, adhering to the principle of the equal political status of the constituent parts, it must provide them with the same rights, powers and functions regarding their respective separate internal self administration. The constitution must also provide effective participation of the constituent parts in the federal government. It must also secure all fundamental human rights and freedoms for the citizens of the federation. Above all it must safeguard the single sovereignty, its indivisibility and the unity of the bicommunal bizonal federation. Such federation, becoming a member of the European Union will thrive at home and abroad.

One of the questions we should ask when looking at various ideas for a solution is do they reasonably meet the needs of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, and will they promote stability and encourage co-operation and partnership among the people of Cyprus?

It is obvious that a bicommunal solution must be negotiated not only because all UN resolutions so demand but also because only in negotiations can we work out the practical steps needed to realize a functioning solution.

Security for both sides is a fundamental part of any settlement; this will require arrangements special to Cyprus. To be effective, an agreement to this end must produce a settlement that can meet the real life challenges inherent in a small island state.

I believe that the gap between what ordinary Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots want and need in a settlement is not so great as it might appear. Both want the same things: peace, prosperity, stability and physical, political, economic and cultural security including respect and enjoyment of their homes and properties.

I am confident that, working together under the umbrella of the United Nations and with the help of the international community, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can construct a settlement that meets these needs and removes the fears and insecurities that have plagued Cyprus since the middle part of this century. To do this, we must begin serious negotiations.

I believe that we, the current generation of leadership, must negotiate a settlement to our decades-old problem that will give all the people of Cyprus a future that will ensure that the bitter experiences of the past cannot and shall not be repeated. We, the older generation of both communities, must close this sad chapter of Cyprus' history with an agreement between us that will allow future generations to build and realize the fruits of true partnership, based on mutual respect and political understanding.

While we cannot reconcile ourselves with the Turkish invasion and occupation, we are genuinely determined to renew and invigorate bicommunal confidence and trust, co-operation and interaction with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots. In my investiture speech last February, I extended a hand of friendship and urged the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash to join me in working together towards finding a solution to the tragic problem of Cyprus for the benefit of all the citizens of the island. Similarly, I invited the Turkish Cypriots to participate as full members to the Cyprus Delegation negotiating the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, thus shaping together our positions and common destiny.

Today before the representatives of the International Community and from the podium of this August Assembly, adhering to the will of the intentional community for an agreed solution of the Cyprus problem within the parameters it had set, as leader of the Greek Cypriot Community I renew my invitation to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot Community Mr. Rauf Denktash, to work together for the solution of the Cyprus problem in order to build a happy and prosperous island for our children and future generations. The interests of Cyprus lie in unity and interaction of the two communities. The continuing tension prevents Cyprus and its people from assuming their rightful role and making their contribution to regional stability and the improvement of Greco-Turkish relations.

The Government of Cyprus is committed to a peaceful solution on the basis of the United Nations resolutions, which will safeguard the interests and the human rights of all its citizens.

Mr. President,

We have consistently put forward proposals for the reduction of tension on the island.

Tension in Cyprus escalates because of the massive presence of the Turkish occupation forces in the north, their continuous strengthening and upgrading and the corresponding need the Government of the Republic feels to strengthen its defense.

The Security Council recognizing that the increase of tension is due to the built up of military forces, in a number of its resolutions called for the reduction of forces and armaments.

While the Government of the Republic of Cyprus will continue to exercise its sovereign right to strengthen its defense with what it considers necessary, for as long as Turkish occupation forces remain in Cyprus, in response to the Security Council resolutions, I did not fail to suggest concrete ways and measures in order to work for specific programme of reduction of foreign and local forces and equipment as a necessary preparatory step towards the programmed and final withdrawal of all foreign forces and elements and the demilitarisation as provided for by the relevant United Nations resolutions. These proposals and suggestions, on our part, are still valid and timely and as such they remain at the negotiating table. For, we remain committed to seeking a solution of the problem by peaceful means and for this lessening of tension is a necessary ingredient.

In the face of continuous threats against Cyprus by the vastly superior military might of Turkey, whose ultimate aim is to keep the island a perpetual hostage, to destroy its sovereignty and to reduce it to a Turkish protectorate, the strong principled support of the United Nations members is of paramount importance.

At this point, I wish to thank the Foreign Ministers of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council and the Secretary-General for discussing on the 24th September 1998 the Cyprus problem and for issuing a statement calling for an early resumption of a sustained process of direct negotiations between the two communities, reminding them at the same time the need to achieve a comprehensive political settlement in accordance with Security Council Resolutions and to avoid any action which might increase tension.

I reply yes to the resumption of a sustained process of direct negotiations on the basis of Security Council resolutions. I say yes to avoiding any action that might increase tension and thus jeopardize the negotiating process.

Mr President, distinguished delegates,

We trust, we can rely once again on your active solidarity at this crucial juncture, as the most sacred principles of the United Nations Charter and the credibility of the World Public Order itself come into focus in this respect.

Mr. President,

As we are approaching the new millennium, the leaders of the world must decide the kind of the world we want our children and grandchildren to live in. Is it a world of sheer interests and lack of principles, where cold calculations of economic and strategic interests are pre-eminent or a world governed by justice and the respect of human rights, which is the only solution for permanent peace and stability in the world?

Thank you Mr. President.