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Greek Ambassador: Extremely difficult, if not impossible, solution if Varos regime changes

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Greek Ambassador: Extremely difficult, if not impossible, solution if Varos regime changes

With a change from the Turkish side of the regime in force in Varosia, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to resolve the Cyprus issue, Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Theocharis Lalakos told KYPE, shortly before his departure from the post of head of the Greek diplomatic mission in Nicosia, after taking on new duties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens.

In an interview with KYPE, Mr. Lalakos said that what happened in Varosia recently is something that goes beyond the excavations, noting that there was a very clear reaction from the international community, which condemned and condemned the actions of the Turkish side.

Asked if there is a possibility of preventing or overturning the methods that are underway on the Turkish side to open part of the enclosed area in Famagusta, the Greek Ambassador said that he considers that there is room. In order to do so, however, he pointed out, “this tense stance of the international community, which opposes any change, and in fact the way Turkey seeks, the status of the enclave of Famagusta, must continue.”

“It is something that we achieved with a lot of hard work, Nicosia worked for it but also Athens helped a lot with the international contacts that we had all this time. It is something that will constantly need our attention. “A constant reminder of this backlog is necessary and let us see, at least in the first phase, if the Turkish side decides to freeze its plans,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of Turkey proceeding with the illegal annexation of the occupied areas of Cyprus to its territories, Mr. Lalakos said that although we should not rule out anything in relation to Turkey's attitude towards Cyprus, his assessment of This phase is that instead of annexation, what Turkey would seek would be a settlement that would give it an international recognition of a “Turkish Cypriot entity” and the ability to exercise as much control as possible over the whole of the Republic of Cyprus. , what this may mean not only for the national interest of Cyprus or Greece, but also for the position of Cyprus and the functioning of the EU “. He said that this is something “which we constantly point out to our interlocutors, both Europeans and in general.”


Regarding the efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue, he stressed that a change in the basis on which a new negotiation effort was launched until recently could not be accepted, as claimed by the Turkish side. “We can not accept to start negotiations before the negotiation, and in fact for very serious things, for matters of substance, such as the final solution or the framework in which the final solution of this very complex international problem should be sought, which is the Cyprus issue “, said Mr. Lalakos.

He stressed that Greece wants Cyprus to become a normal state without guarantors and without occupation troops. “The occupation troops that exist now, and their number is really disproportionate, will have to leave within a closed schedule. This thing is not something that can be left for review after 10 or 15 years. It must be agreed, completed within a reasonable period of time “, he pointed out.

Mr. Lalakos underlined that for Greece the Cyprus issue is the most important, the burning national issue. “Whether we like it or not, the national space of Hellenism is united. Of course we have two different countries, Greece and Cyprus. “Greece is still formally the guarantor power of Cyprus, but also among virtually all countries of the world it is the one that supports the independence of the Republic of Cyprus more than any other,” he said.

He underlined that “Greece will continue to consider the Cyprus issue as its primary concern until we manage to have a fair, sustainable and functional solution to this great national issue.”

He noted that in recent years the Turkish side has insisted on seeking a solution outside the agreed framework, “which has been hard-won for decades, always within the framework of the United Nations process, both in the Security Council and in the Summit between leaders.” on both sides “.

“This great acquis, this project that exists, and which until recently was the basis on which a new negotiation effort was launched, the Turkish side, and Ankara and the Turkish side, we saw that they openly challenge it. . “And we saw this manifested clearly in the informal pentagon of Geneva,” said the Greek Ambassador.

He noted that “since then we have not seen a change in the Turkish attitude, as of course there has been no change in the just obsession of the Greek side, both in Nicosia and Athens, that we can not accept a change of base, and even from the beginning.”

He pointed out that “what happened in Varosia recently, but we already had a taste of autumn 2020, is something that really goes beyond the excavations, and precisely because the breach of the agreements was so brutal and so provocative on the part of Turkey, for We have seen this very clear reaction from the international community, and from the United Nations, but also from the EU, and from almost all the countries, which have condemned and condemned these efforts, so we are now waiting to see how let the Turkish side move forward “.

He expressed the belief that “everyone internationally understands that with a change of regime that applies to Varos will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, the final settlement of the Cyprus issue, because it really changes the balance, if there was some balance in the negotiating table, in such a dramatic way that it will be very difficult to reach a final agreement whenever the two sides come to such a point. “

“Greece is clear. First of all, we want Cyprus, which will come from a negotiation and a possible agreement, to be a normal state. This means a state that will not need guarantors. “And we say this as Greece, even though we are one of the three guarantor powers,” he said, noting that “we will continue to fulfill our obligations as long as we remain a guarantor.”

He added that “we would prefer to abolish this system of guarantees and move to another protection system to address any security concerns of the two communities on the island, which, however, will not include completely anachronistic guarantee conditions, and most importantly will not provide neither party has the right to unilateral intervention, nor mentally “. Mr. Lalakos stated that Greece is also very clear that a newly united Cyprus cannot have occupation troops.

He also noted that Athens and Nicosia are in constant coordination at the highest level, which is evidenced by the frequency of high-level coordination meetings, which were not interrupted despite the coronavirus, despite the restrictions. And I assure you that it is something that will continue to happen, he said.

Turkey's foreign policy

Asked to assess Turkey's foreign policy and its relations with other countries, having served there as a diplomat, Mr. Lalakos said that Turkish policy in relation to Greece and Cyprus follows, despite the change of government, a little much the same line from the 50s onwards. But in terms of its general international policy, Turkey, he said, shows that it can no longer or does not want to limit itself to the role of a viable regional power.

“She wants a bigger role. He wants a role that is, if not global, at least much bigger than the regional one. We see this manifesting itself in practice in regions such as the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Red Sea and we will see what happens next. Turkey wants to play the role of a global player. “I do not know if he will succeed, we will see that,” he said.

He added that “what we are interested in in our relationship with Turkey, which is a direct neighbor, is to have a relationship based on respect for international law and the Treaties we have signed, which are not perfect for Greece but these are also we must respect “.

He pointed out that “dealing with Turkish issues is daily in Greece. This is evidenced by the almost daily violations of national airspace and our other sovereign rights at sea and in the air, we see it with the instrumentalization of immigration. We will see what we can achieve with the dialogue we are trying to maintain with Turkey. “We want dialogue, but what we will never accept will be the concession of sovereign rights or discounts from the great national interests, in which the Cyprus issue is first for us,” he stressed.

Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue

Asked how the Cyprus issue affects Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Lalakos noted that the Cyprus issue is not a bilateral Greek-Turkish issue, it is an international issue, and this is shown by the fact that it has occupied the United Nations for so many years, by the fact that the United Nations have been present here, both UNFICYP and the office of good services, for decades “.

He added, however, that “due to the peculiarities of Cyprus, due to the population composition, due to the position of Cyprus geographically and historically inevitably the Cyprus issue greatly affects Greek-Turkish relations”, to note that “a solution to the Cyprus issue definitely will bring about an improvement in the relations between Greece and Turkey, but other problems will not disappear, which exist and which we also have to solve if we want to have a smooth relationship with Turkey, similar to the one we have with most of the others. our neighbors “.

He noted that Greece has shown that it has the will even with neighbors with whom it used to have big differences “to improve, to normalize to a great extent our relations. “We tried to do the same with Turkey. We have succeeded to a small extent in normalizing our relations in certain areas. “Indicatively, I can mention the economic, the commercial or the tourist, but the main issues where we are faced with illegal and irrational Turkish accusations have not yet been settled, they still continue to burden our relations”, he said.

Afghanistan – Migration flows

Asked about the issue of Afghanistan and refugee flows due to the deteriorating situation in the country, he said that “countries like Greece and Cyprus, countries with a very heavy burden of migrants and refugees, should be prepared. “The good thing is that preparations have already begun and are continuing, always in close coordination between the two countries, and of course within the EU, with the help of all the EU institutions dealing with immigration and asylum.” , he added.

He noted that “as far as Greece is concerned, the first immediate, pressing concern was to make sure that some relatively few Afghans with their families, who had worked with the Greek contingent in the international force that was at Kabul airport for years, and some others with Greek citizenship, possibly, could return safely to Greece. Great efforts have been made for this and we will continue to try to bring these people to the security that Greece will provide “.

Asked if Greece is satisfied with the way the EU handles the issue of migration flows, he said that Athens is satisfied “but what is important is to be able to implement the decisions that are taken within the EU. And we have in the last 5-6 years many times and EU Member States are not so cooperative and do not implement what they have already agreed on, but of course, and there is an even bigger problem, third countries that make agreements with the “EU for such issues not to fulfill them in full”, said Mr. Lalakos.

Cooperation on energy issues

Asked how Greece assesses the situation in terms of cooperation between the Eastern Mediterranean countries on energy issues, Mr. Lalakos said that the general cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean has made great progress in terms of interests and Greece and Cyprus in recent years, which is a diplomatic success of both countries.

Regarding the energy sector, he said that in fact the energy plans of Greece and Cyprus are identical. “Essentially we have a common vision of how we will meet our energy needs in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, not alone, but in cooperation with others who respect international standards,” he said.

He noted that “we have proved this not only through our tripartite cooperation with countries such as Israel, Egypt and others, but also through our active participation in the Eastern Mediterranean Energy Forum. We have proved this with the central position that both Cyprus and Greece have in major energy projects such as the interconnection of electricity networks and with gas pipeline projects, such as East Med, and in general with the common view that we have that every country has the right “to exercise in its legally delimited maritime zone and on its continental shelf the sovereign rights deriving from international law,” he said.

Tripartite collaborations

Asked how the trilateral partnerships that Cyprus and Greece have established with countries in the region could be further developed, for the benefits of these partnerships, and for the US role in the trilateral partnership with Israel, Mr. Lalakos said that the 3 + 1 scheme (tripartite scheme of Cyprus, Greece and Israel with participation in their meetings and the US) “has not yet progressed to the extent that we would like to see it move “A few years ago we would not have even thought that we could work together at a regional level, on such a wide range of issues.”

He added that America's interest suggests a general interest of third countries in these tripartite cooperation schemes, which were started together by Cyprus and Greece, “and which, if they were not successful, at least to some extent, would certainly not have attracted interest from third parties”.

He noted that “many times the interest of third parties for participation, for some kind of connection with the tripartite groups we have, is pressing”, to point out that what matters at this stage is certainly the essence, ie to proceed with the development of to expand the areas of cooperation in a realistic way, in a way that will be able to give us results on which we can base a further extension of this possibility, in order to avoid the risk that at some point they will be considered the collaborations are more on a declarative level and do not have such great practical results “.

He added that these schemes are not ephemeral, not based on the personal relationship of some leaders, but reflect the common interests of the countries involved, which is evidenced by the fact that these partnerships proceed regardless of who is the Government in each country. “We have seen this in Greece and Israel recently and in Cyprus and everywhere. We saw the same in America. “America's interest began with the previous administration, it continues with the current one,” he said.

Cooperation in firefighting

Asked about the cooperation in the field of firefighting, Mr. Lalakos thanked the fire brigade and the Civil Defense of Cyprus, but also the Cypriot authorities in general, for their direct assistance in extinguishing the recent catastrophic fires in various parts of Greece. .

He pointed out that the international aid that Greece received was extensive and moving, “but Cyprus, as always, was the first with great power, with many means, and with people who for many days, without Saturday, without Sunday, without working hours tried inside on very difficult fronts and they helped a lot, they came first and left last “.

He also stressed that cooperation in the field of firefighting can only have a regional and international dimension and that a first thing that will happen, especially after the unpleasant experiences of this summer, not only in Greece but in the Mediterranean basin in general. , will be the largest cooperation of EU countries in the field of firefighting, which, among other things, includes the creation of nodes of firefighting equipment, aircraft, helicopters or others in different countries, for joint efforts whenever the need arises. “What we can do is better organize ourselves so that dealing with them is easier and faster,” he said.

Cyprus-Greece bilateral relations

Asked about the possibilities for further development of the bilateral relations between Cyprus and Greece and in which areas could be emphasized, the Greek Ambassador said that “the cooperation between Greece and Cyprus is so close and so easy that no one faces the difficulties that will he faced when he tried to increase his cooperation in various fields with any other third country “.

He added that “if there were any areas in which we could talk about some significant room for improvement are economic exchanges, trade, tourism. “Although we have extensive relations in these areas, although we do not have major obstacles that stand between the two countries in this area, we could expect a greater economic, investment or trade activity.”

He said that “a more specific area where we want to see progress is that of the ferry connection, after so many years of interruption, between the two countries.”

“It simply came to our notice then. Very serious and very systematic and professional actions are being taken by the Cypriot side and especially the Ministry of Shipping, in cooperation with the competent authorities of Greece, and I think we would have had good results if the coronavirus had not mediated, which with all the restrictions did not favor the beginning of such a connection, but in a short time I hope that we will have some positive and tangible results in this field “, he noted.

Experiences in Cyprus

Asked what were the most intense moments he experienced in Cyprus as Ambassador of Greece and what he will remember most from his tenure on the island, Mr. Lalakos remembered when the first day he arrived in Cyprus to take up his duties, at the beginning of his In February last year, coming by car from Larnaca airport to Nicosia, a colleague at his embassy showed Louroutzina at some point.

“To have seen it on the map is one thing, to actually see how far south the occupied zone of Cyprus has reached is a first unpleasant feeling. A little further up to the north we had the view of the Five Finger, with the well-known spectacle of the two flags that the occupying authorities have put to be seen from the free areas, something that I had seen in photos hundreds of times but when you see it “It actually affects you differently,” he said.

“The green line, the roadblocks in the city of Nicosia, the other parts of the line of confrontation, the view I had with the naked eye of Varosia from Deryneia, all these are added to many other moments of intense emotion, such as not only the first but the my every visit to the Imprisoned Memories. It is not just symbolism. It is also the uniqueness of this sacred space. “Memories in prison and next to it the gallows”, he added.

He also referred to the emotion one feels when one goes to the Tomb of Makedonitissa, and remembers sad days and times. He also pointed out the love of the Cypriot people for Greece, which he characterized as moving. “And when you represent Greece in such a country, this emotional response you see is spontaneous, it is real, it is something that really shows you that what we are fighting for is really worth it,” he concluded.


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Source: 24h.com.cy

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