There was a time when the U.N. General Assembly was our home. Our real home. Those were the years soon after the Turkish invasion. We had then resorted to the General Assembly on a number of occasions and the results were overwhelmingly in our favor.
A strong team was organized by us at the United Nations, which was working methodically, in the presence and with the contribution of the political leaders of Cyprus. The Permanent Representatives (ambassadors) of all the 152 member-states were contacted and briefed each time. The recourses were organized and co-ordinated by the Foreign Ministry. The political leaders were always present and they helped a lot. Glafcos Clerides (DISY), Ezekias Papaioannou (AKEL), Alexis Ghalanos (DIKO), Vasos Lyssarides (EDEK).
I was always present as well, leading a team of diplomats (ambassadors or future ambassadors), which consisted of Alecos Shambos, Zenon Rossides, Andreas Mavrommatis, Andreas Jacovides, Dinos Moushiouttas, Michael Sherifis, Elias Ypsarides, Akis Stephanides, Theophilos Theophilou, Pambos Charalambous, Erato Marcoulli, Jimmy Droussiotis and others. Those years were really productive.
We secured at that time three important resolutions:
· 33/15 of the 9th November 1978, with 110 votes in favor, 4 against and 22 abstentions.
· 34/30 of the 20th November 1979, with 99 votes in favor, 5 against and 35 abstentions.
· 37/253 of the 13th May 1983 (probably the best resolution Cyprus ever secured) with 103 votes in favor, 5 against and 20 abstentions.
That was the picture at the General Assembly and the international community in those years, despite the fact that we had against us a very powerful adversary, Turkey and her friends and allies.
Recently, almost 40 years on, in the case of Ambassador Mavroyiannis, we lost at the General Assembly, with 94 votes against and 90 in favor, although we had opposite us an island-country, Fiji, which is lost in the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
One might invoke the fact that the Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries does not exist anymore or that the present case was a specialized one. The truth however (and this is my own conclusion through my contacts in recent years) is that things for Cyprus are not as they used to be anymore.
In order to be fair Ι must clarify that the Government, the Foreign Ministry, our Mission in New York and Andreas Mavroyiannis are not to blame at all for this outcome. They all worked hard and conscientiously and they covered the whole spectrum of countries in New York.
The message is a different one. It is that over the years we have lost our credibility in the international community. We lost many friends. We failed to achieve a balanced solution of our problem when the opportunities were there. So the stance of the international community and the resolutions are not favorable any more.
The international community cannot tolerate anymore our attitude of invoking, on the one hand, the Security Council Resolutions, the High Level Agreements, and the European justice, and on the other hand to ignore them. Unfortunately there are many examples piled up as a result of our negative attitude over the years. Amongst them:
1. Unanimous Security Council Resolution 1475 (2003) which strongly supports the Anan Plan.
2. Unanimous Security Council Resolution 649 (1990) which adopts report S/21183 of the Secretary-General for majority of population and property ownership in the constituent states.
3. The Agreement of the 8th July 2006 (Papadopoulos-Talat) whereby bizonality is accepted in an absolute manner.
4. The Demopoulos case (2010) of the European Court of Human Rights, which recognizes certain rights of the “users” of properties.
We have to decide: Do we accept and respect the Security Council Resolutions, the Agreements we have signed and the European justice? We cannot invoke them “a la carte.” If we do not want them we must say so and take the consequences.
Demetris Christofias used to say that he was trying to solve the Cyprus problem, so that he would not end up as the last President before partition.
When Nicos Anastasiades took over, so many problems were already amassed, that a solution seemed almost impossible. This is what Nicos inherited from the long term struggle lovers, the perennial rejectionists, who have buried the dreams and visions of Cyprus.
However, it now appears, that averting partition is probably not the real objective anymore. The essence is to avert the annexation of Cyprus’ territory by Turkey, which would remind us of the lost territories of Hellenism 100 years ago. It would also remind us of the annexation of Syrian Alexandretta (Iskenderun) by Turkey in 1939.
I was invited recently at SIM TV station, which is close to the Republican Turkish Party of Mehmet Ali Talat, for more than two hours. I was interviewed by Turkish Cypriot journalists Fatma and Mutlu Azgin. It appears that quite a number of Turkish Cypriots have the feeling that “north Cyprus” will eventually be converted into the 82nd District of Turkey through annexation.
There are many ominous signs:
1. The “state” revenues emanate almost completely from Turkey.
2. Hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens (settlers) live in the north. They outnumber by far the Turkish Cypriots.
3. The currency is the turkish lira.
4. There is an occupation force of 40,000 Turkish soldiers.
5. The main source of water supply is Turkey.
6. Electricity will soon be transmitted from Turkey.
7. The telephone system belongs to a Turkish corporation.
8. The ports are in the process of control by Turkey.
9. Airports and air transport are controlled by Turkey.
10. The “Ministries” have a Big Brother from Turkey overseeing decisions.
11. There are huge investments by Turkish corporations in the occupied part, in tourism and other fields.
12. Cyprus land is continuously purchased by Turkish interests.
13. A new office to coordinate matters of the youth and sports will be controlled by Ankara.
14. There are Theology Colleges controlled by Turkey.
15. The Turkish army and its organization infiltrate schools.
16. Excursions to Turkey have been multiplied.
17. The district administration is under the control of commissions from Turkey.
18. On matters of security the Turkish Cypriots place their trust solely in Turkey.
19. A new Turkish University is under establishment in Morphou, where many other investments are under way.
20. There are 15 universities in the north and another 12 are in the wings. All of them are under the discreet supervision of Turkey.
21. Many Turkish Cypriots feel as Turks in recent years (According to Turkish Cypriot journalist Sener Levent).
22. According to journalist Sener Levent “Turkey controls everything in the north” (Politis Newspaper 6/6/2016).
23. “We have become part of Turkey” Sener Levent, (Politis Newspaper 6/6/2016).
So, our own “great patriots,” by blocking the solution of our problem and by rejecting one initiative after another, despite our continuous warnings, have led to the probable conversion of part of Cyprus into Turkish territory. And even now, instead of facing with concern the realities which they have created, “the patriots” sit back in their offices and their comfortable sofas and they discuss about “the shadow of donkeys,” as the ancient Greek comedy writer Aristophanes aptly put it.
I express the wish that President Anastasiades will manage, under very difficult conditions, to strike the golden mean with Mustafa Akinci before the “north” is converted officially into Turkish territory.
As I disclosed at the SIM TV station interview, I sat down recently on my own, for hours and hours and by using my 40-year experience, I worked out a Plan which might constitute a functional solution of our problem. A solution which cannot be the desirable one, after 53 years of sins and blunders by both communities.
Nicos A. Rolandis served his native Cyprus as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1978-1983), Minister of Commerce, Industry & Tourism (1998-2003), Member of the House of Representatives (1991-1996), President of the Liberal Party (1986-1998), and Vice-President of Liberal International (1994-1998).