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Statements of Foreign Minister N. Kotzias and the President of the Cypriot House of Representatives, D. Syllouris, before their meeting (Nicosia, 27 March 2017)
D. SYLLOURIS: I would like to welcome you to my office for the first time, and I would like to believe that you will come more often, because there are issues, beyond the Cyprus problem and our region, on which Greece and Cyprus – through the relations we have in the region – can work together and become real catalysts for new developments. It is certainly a given that I, personally, and the House of Representatives and the whole of Cyprus, depend on Greece. We are grateful for Greece's support and the support we get from you, personally, as an expert on international developments and issues and as someone very well versed in the Cyprus problem. We believe that we have a true support in you, without my wanting to personalise things – because institutions, not individuals, must function – but personal support sometimes makes the difference.
I believe that the biggest issue in the Cyprus problem, due to its special nature as a problem of invasion and occupation, has always been security. The catalyst for the disaster cannot become the catalyst for peace and the resolution of the Cyprus problem. The catalyst for the disaster was the guarantees and the particular way in which Turkey used the guarantees to invade an independent state. In my opinion, this cannot exist in the future, and the Cypriot people cannot accept it. You are in Cyprus while we are celebrating the two anniversaries, 25 March and 1 April, when EOKA faced the foreign yoke with great self-sacrifice from the youth of Cyprus, we took our independence, and, despite the fact that this independence, which was injured by our own mistakes and, in particular, by Turkey's expansionist policy, we need to bring it back for the whole of Cyprus. Thank you for coming.
N. KOTZIAS: Mr. President, I thank you for your invaluable positive attitude. I thank the Cypriot people, whose embrace has always been open to Greece, with our mistakes and weaknesses. You know that the Cyprus problem – for me and our government, and for the institution of the Foreign Ministry – is a central, fundamental issue whose solution we want and seek, and we always hope for a unified, independent, sovereign Cyprus, free of foreign troops and occupation forces.
You know that it was during my first weeks as Foreign Minister that – emerging from the office of the UN Secretary General, where we discussed, among other things, mainly the Cyprus issue – I was asked by a Turkish journalist why Greece wasn't helping to resolve the Cyprus problem in the same way Turkey wants to see it resolved. And I answered him that Greece wants the Cyprus problem to be resolved more than anyone else, and that if Turkey is really in a hurry, as you say – as we are – the Turkish army should hurry up and leave. That was the first statement I made in an international environment, on my first visit to New York. Since then, I have firmly believed, and I always believed, that those who violate international law – those who use violence outside the UN Charter and the UN resolutions, and those who think they have rights over third countries – should not be vindicated.
Cyprus is a wound to the heart and soul for us Greeks, because I will never forget the criminal conduct of the Greek junta, for which I always ask forgiveness. Not for what it did, but because we did not succeed in stopping it from opening the way to the invasion, the illegal and violent invasion, the murderous invasion of Cyprus by Turkish forces. And I think that the people of my generation, the people of the current government, like the Cypriots, dream of making it part of our lives that we contributed to the resolution of the Cyprus issue in a just manner, through a functional and viable solution, and not of calling something that perpetuates what we want to resolve – the illegal occupation, that is – a solution. I thank you for finding the time for us to talk. It is a twofold pleasure for me to be in Cyprus and at the home of the Republic of Cyprus, so you do me a double honour. Thank you very much.