President Jerzy Buzek - Address to the Parliament of Cyprus
Dear President Christofias,
Dear President Garoyian,
Kirijes Kie Kiriji, Agapiti fili!
I take great pleasure in being here with you today in this magnificent building. If the heart of a democracy is its people, its soul must be its Parliament.
Cyprus and my native Poland, the Czech Republic and 7 others joined the European Union together in 2004. Our two countries might be located in different corners of our continent but we shared the same hopes and dreams when we joined.
Today, after six years we can honestly say that our membership has been a great success. Our economies have grown, and being part of Europe has helped us weather the storm of the world's financial crisis.
I know that apart from the Cyprus reunification problem. You still face some other serious problems such as illegal immigration. We know that Cyprus receives the highest number of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers compared to the population of the country.
You have worked in a constructive way in this sensitive area. You can be sure that the EU and its member states will stand by your side and assist more in every way possible in a spirit of solidarity.
The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty has facilitated closer relations between the European Parliament and the national parliament of Cyprus, giving you the power to flag legislation you feel is not compatible with the principle of subsidiarity.
I believe we are developing very good cooperation on all levels. You are becoming genuine partners in our legislative process, making European legislation better for the citizens we represent.
In 2012 your country will take over the Presidency of the European Union, you will be in the same troika with Poland and Denmark. I believe this is a historic opportunity to put forward an ambitious agenda for the Union.
It will be remembered for years - your Presidency, our Presidency, will have to tackle issues such as relaunching the single market, on implementing the legislation we need to achieve our 2020 strategy. We have to start working to fulfil our commitments in the fight against climate change, but more importantly in 2012 we will be ending discussions regarding the Multiannual Financial Framework.
During your Presidency, Cyprus will play a key role in helping shape the future of Europe for the next decade.
I would like to congratulate you on the nobel prize in economics which was earned by Christopher Pissarides of Cyprus.
I would like to also use this opportunity to congratulate you on the 50th anniversary of your independence which you celebrated this month.
If this was a wedding, fifty years is a golden anniversary. But, unfortunately this was an anniversary which was celebrated apart.
Nothing reminds us of this more than the city we are in. Nicosia, the last divided city in Europe, cut in half by the so-called Green Line.
Last week in the European Parliament we marked another anniversary, one very close to my heart, twenty years of German reunification.
The Berlin Wall was a wall of shame, a symbol of the division of not only the German nation but also of our continent. But against all odds, East and West were reunited, and Europe is now integrated.
It started from negotiations. We from Solidarity, and the other opposition movements across the region, sat down at round tables and discussed change. We had nothing but our beliefs, they had tanks and guns, and yet the impossible became possible.
A great American President, in the depth of the great depression inspired his nation by reminding them that there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
We in Central Europe twenty years ago were not afraid to dream, to believe that we can change the world we live in.
Poland, and the other post-Soviet countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Cyprus may be at opposite corners of our European Union but dreams know no boundaries.
I hope that here too the impossible may become possible.
The settlement of the Cyprus issue will bring greater stability and prosperity to the whole Eastern Mediterranean. It will also have far-reaching implications for the whole of the European Union and the Middle East.
Throughout history, Cyprus has served as an important bridge between East and West, North and South. A crossroad which is a crucial link connecting three continents. We have not forgotten the central role your island played during the 2006 conflict in Lebanon.
A durable settlement would go a long way to strengthen EU-NATO relations. With NATO about to unveil its new Strategic Concept, the timing would be ideal.
I know the issue of NATO because of Turkey is a delicate one. The Turkish government has followed the road of reforms and its progressive alignment with the European Union. But we know that more needs to be done in this direction.
Implementing the Ankara Protocol will show Turkey's commitment to fulfil its obligations to the EU.
It is also my hope that Turkey will actively support reunification negotiations and contribute in concrete terms to a lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue. This would be in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, international law and the principles on which the EU is founded.
The European Parliament and the EU strongly support the efforts towards reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem which will re-unify the island to the benefit of all its people.
For Europe, a no-solution or a partition is not an option.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A solution to the Cyprus problem is within your reach. If any settlement between the two communities is to pass the test of time then it must be functional and it must be viable.
It is also important that a unified Cyprus brings together not only land, public institutions and the economy, but also its people.
A bi-zonal and bi-communal Federal agreement will only work if your Turkish Cypriot compatriots are fully integrated within the state's institutions.
This involves reaching out to the Turkish Cypriot community right now. The European institutions are doing their part to encourage social and economic development, improve infrastructure and bring Turkish Cypriots closer to the Union, because they too must see the benefit of integration.
Both sides have suffered as a result of the partition. And they have suffered too long.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A mere sixty kilometres from where we are today, lies the city of Famagusta. In its day, it was one of the wealthiest spots in the eastern Mediterranean and its Varosha quarter counted among the top tourist destinations in Cyprus, if not Europe.
Since 1974 Varosha remains abandoned, frozen in time, a ghost town full of empty hotels.
Famagusta is a symbol of both today's failure and possible future success. It illustrates the immense potential that a unified Cyprus could unlock.
Over the centuries, Cyprus has had many rulers subjecting you to foreign laws and customs. But on the golden anniversary of your democracy it is perhaps time to reflect on your achievements, won through struggle and sacrifice. I am convinced that a lasting solution to the division of this island can, and must be found. The time for blaming is at an end, it is time for Cyprus not to defeat itself.
We have some good examples. The close cooperation of the two communities in the sensitive issue of the missing persons, shows that when there is a will, there is a way.
The European Parliament has strongly supported the efforts of the two sides and the Committee of Missing Persons to find and identify the missing persons from both communities.
It was on the initiative of the European Parliament that substantial funds from the Community budget were allocated for this purpose.
We are here to help but this is something that both communities must achieve on their own since no imposed solution will ever be credible.
Let me come to the end of my speech.
My attention was brought to a poem written by a Turkish -Cypriot, Neshe Yashin, while a Greek-Cypriot Marios Tokas, wrote the music for this poem, transforming it into a loved song by both communities on the island. Neshe wrote:
"They say a person should
love their homeland
that's also what
my father often says.
has been divided in two
which of the two pieces
should I love?"
The answer is both.
Today, I stand before you as the first President of the European Parliament from a country which was once behind the iron curtain. The impossible dream that we had twenty years ago became a reality.
It is my sincere hope that in the very near future Cyprus will once again become one homeland for all to love.