Statement by President Mustafa Akıncı at the 13th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation
It is a distinct honour for me to address the 13th summit of the economic cooperation organisation (eco). I extend to you all the heartfelt greetings of the Turkish Cypriot people.
I WOULD LIKE TO, AT THE OUTSET, THANK H.E. MR MAMNOON HUSSAIN, PRESIDENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN, AND THE BROTHERLY PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN FOR THE WARM HOSPITALITY EXTENDED TO ME AND MY DELEGATION SINCE OUR ARRIVAL IN ISLAMABAD.
I ALSO WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS OUR GRATITUDE TO H.E. MR. HALIL IBRAHIM AKÇA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, AND THE ABLE SECRETARIAT OF THE ECONOMIC COOPERATION ORGANIZATION, FOR THEIR CONTINUED SUPPORT TO AND COOPERATION WITH THE TURKISH CYPRIOT PEOPLE.
I am pleased to witness that through the continued cooperation and relationship between the Turkish Cypriot State and ECO, as well as its member states, we are in the process of developing mutually beneficial relations. Yet, I believe there is still room for progress. Solidarity and support from ECO and its member states is of utmost importance in furthering and deepening the already existing relations between the Organization, its member states, and the TRNC.
the Turkish Cypriot State WE would like to contribute more effectively to the Organization’s work, develop closer relationships with other member states, and foster cooperation in fields of mutual interest. We would definitely like to see our people engaged in more economic, cultural, and social interactions.
The relationship between the Turkish Cypriot State and ECO can be further developed through reciprocal visits, and we would be honored to host delegations in order to take up and discuss matters of mutual interest.
In the past, the TRNC has shown that it has the capacity to successfully host ECO events such as the workshop on “Tourism” in 2015, ECO 1st University Sport Games in 2013, and the Workshop on “Management of Wastewater and Cleansing Technology” in 2004. Now, we are willing to host more events in the upcoming years. In fact, we have offered to co-host events with Turkey in 2017, namely the “Expert Group Meeting on Eco-tourism”, “Meeting on Protected Areas”,” Meeting on Ecosystem Services” and “Second Workshop on capacity building and best practices on Biodiversity issues”. I hope and trust that ECO will recognize the benefits of hosting meetings in North Cyprus.
How can the TRNC contribute to and benefit more effectively from the Organization’s work? How can this lead to the development of closer relationships and cooperation in the fields of mutual interest with brotherly member states and their people? How can we bring our people closer to each other? Let me elaborate on these questions.
As you are all aware, currently, the TRNC is under economic isolation. There are no direct flights or trade, except from Turkey, and we do not have access to international financial institutions. Under these difficult circumstances, we are working hard to find lasting peace in Cyprus. Since I took office in April 2015, 22 months ago, I have been giving my utmost effort to find a comprehensive solution: So far, we've come a long way. We have shown serious progress on 5 of the 6 negotiating chapters of governance and power sharing, EU relations, economy, property, and territory. We even started discussing Security and Guarantees Chapters at a five-party-conference with the participation of the island’s three guarantor countries, Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom. We are trying to establish a bi-communal, bi-zonal, federation based on two politically equal constituent states, and we are in the last round of the negotiations with my counterpart, Greek Cypriot leader Mr. Anastasiades.
Unfortunately, the negotiations came to a halt last week after a vote in the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives decided that the 1950 plebiscite on Enosis – union with Greece – should be commemorated in Greek Cypriot public schools. The decision on education was brought to the House’s agenda by the fascist and racist black shirts of Elam and likeminded deputies, and was passed after deputies from my counterpart’s own ruling party abstained. Enosis was the root cause of the Cyprus problem. It is fundamentally against the spirit of reconciliation and peace, since the plebiscite of Enosis ignored the existence of Turkish Cypriots. It was because of Enosis and aspirations to unite the island with Greece that the 1960 Republic of Cyprus collapsed in 1963. Following the Greek Junta backed military coup which aimed Enosis once again, the island was divided into two in 1974. Turkish Cypriots are expecting to see that Mr. Anastasiades will put forward the efforts necessary to reverse the decision. Only then can we resume our talks to find a comprehensive solution. we have shown determination and political will for the settlement. what is needed is to see the same attitude from the greek cypriot leadership.
if we can achieve the solution, in the future, Cyprus as a whole will be a full member of the European Union as a bizonal bicommnunal federation. a united federal Cyprus will be the center of stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean. We will have the opportunity to create a vibrant economy that utilizes its comparative advantage, by developing its existing service sectors. but, as i stated earlier, for that to happen we need a real cooperation from the south cyprus as well.
Let me make it clear that with the solution, in the United Federal Cyprus, there will be two constituent states. Both constituent states will be able to sign bi-lateral agreements with other countries in the areas of trade, tourism, culture and sports. Moreover, these agreements will also cover the international organizations as well. Thus, with or without a solution, solidarity and support from ECO and its member states are of utmost importance in furthering and deepening the already existing relations between the Turkish Cypriots and people of the ten member states of ECO, economically, socially and culturally.
Having said that, until we find a solution, in addition to Turkey’s backing, we are counting on the brotherly member countries for support in efforts to improve our economy and our citizens’ well-being. In particular, I see great potential and opportunities in two areas, namely higher education and tourism.
In higher education, there are currently 90 thousand students attending universities in the TRNC. 83% of those students are from abroad, and more importantly, around four-thousand students are from ECO member countries. The higher education sector is generating almost 38% of the TRNC’s total income. North Cyprus has one of the lowest crime rates around the world. Universities’ tuition fees are affordable and living expenses are moderate. Indeed, we would like to see more students arriving from brotherly member states; and we offer attractive scholarships to students from ECO member countries. At the same time, we will be more than happy to contribute to the Organization’s work more effectively by sharing the scientific expertise, research, and development that is being undertaken by the research centers at our universities. We are ready and capable of contributing projects, workshops and training activities in the areas of economic research, statistics, human resources and sustainable development.
North Cyprus is blessed with outstanding weather, mild winters and sunshine year-round. It is famed for its warmth, the hospitality of its people, and its excellent cuisine. Because of its location in the eastern Mediterranean - at the crossroads of civilizations, North Cyprus also has an abundance of historic attractions such as ancient villages, archaic ruins, medieval castles, mosques and dervish lodges. North Cyprus is an ideal place to go hiking, with an incredible wealth of unique flora and fauna. Last year 1.5 million tourists visited North Cyprus, but sadly not many of them were from the ECO countries. We would be delighted and honored to have more visitors from brotherly member states.
We share the vision of a prosperous ECO Region as a free trade bloc which promotes economic growth, global peace, and stability. To this end, we would like to improve our trade as well as cultural and social relations with brotherly member countries.
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK, ONCE AGAIN, THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AND THE ECO SECRETARIAT FOR THEIR EFFORTS IN MAKING THIS MEETING A GREAT SUCCESS.