Greek Ambassador: Non-recognition of illegal regime acts as incentive towards a settlement

Greek Ambassador: Non-recognition of illegal regime acts as incentive towards a settlement

Despite the frustration and the disappointment caused by the continuing, for 40 years now, illegal occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, the fact that Turkey has not achieved any kind of recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime is no coincidence, the Ambassador of Greece in Nicosia Vassilis Papaioannou has stressed.

This, he pointed out, is an incentive in efforts to reach a political settlement of the Cyprus problem.

In an interview with CNA, on the occasion of his imminent departure from Cyprus after his six year term in Nicosia, Papaioannou said that “our effort during these past six years was to boost the morale against any possible feelings of hopelessness caused by the ongoing occupation for forty years now, which some may described as a `dangerous routine`.”

“Many are wondering if there is anything that can be done, forty years on. Things are not like this at all, because we, Greek and Cypriot diplomats, exert efforts at all levels, at every international or regional forum,” he added.

“Forty years have passed and may be there is frustration and disappointment for the illegal occupation but on the other hand Turkey has not achieved any kind of recognition of the illegal regime, its subordinate administration in occupied Cyprus, and this constitutes a driving force of our own determination,” to work for a settlement, the Ambassador told CNA.

When Vassilis Papaioannou took office in Nicosia back in 2009, conditions were much different in Greece and Cyprus, mainly with regards to the economy. In both countries economic adjustment programmes are in place. However as the outgoing Greek Ambassador indicates, these developments do not have an impact on the relations between the two countries.

“Relations between the two countries are not circumstantial. There are brotherly relations, deeply rooted in history. Our interests are common, and based on this, we join forces in international fora in order to deal with the illegality of the secessionist regime that violates every sense of respect of international law,” he noted.

With regard to the economy, he pointed out that the two countries struggle in order to create a sound economy based on growth, prosperity and social justice, indicating at the same time that direct communication between the President of Cyprus and the Greek Prime Minister reaffirms the coordination and common efforts towards this direction.

At the same time Vassilis Papaioannou reassured that despite the current economic situation in Greece, nothing has changed concerning Greece`s approach to the Cyprus problem and recalled that during his recent visit to Cyprus Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reiterated that the Cyprus problem remains the primary issue on the Greek foreign policy agenda.

Asked about ways that Greece and Cyprus could break the deadlock at the Cyprus talks, Papaioannou underlined that Turkey should comply with the international law and should stop arbitrary unilateral illegal actions. “Our aim is to promote this necessity, using all political and diplomatic tools we have at our disposal,” he said, noting at the same time that Cyprus and Greece work also at the EU level so that any Cyprus solution agreement will be in line with the EU principles and values. “The Republic of Cyprus is an EU member state and its evolution should be based on a single sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality,” he stressed.

Referring to energy issues and cooperation with neighboring countries like Israel and Egypt, the outgoing Ambassador of Greece spoke about two concrete facts. The first, as he explained, relates to the fact that Greece and Cyprus are factors of stability and security in the broader region and the second that there is an international interest in this region regarding hydrocarbon reserves.

“So we are at the centre of this interest and we consider broader regional cooperation imperative and we support it, ” he said, acknowledging that there has been significant progress towards this direction with the trilateral meetings of Greece, Cyprus, Israel and of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. A breakaway state declared unilaterally independence in 1983, in the areas of the island under Turkish occupation, an action condemned by the international community and the UN Security Council as legally null and void.

Repeated UN-led rounds of peace talks have so far failed to bring about an agreed settlement in Cyprus, due primarily to Turkish intransigence and Ankara’s policy of a two state solution.