Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kudret Özersay participated in the “23rd Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), at which the TRNC is an observer member under the title of ‘Turkish Cypriot State’. The meeting was organised in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, on 16-17 April 2018.

Full text of the statement by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kudret Özersay at the “23rd Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), is as follows:

 “It is an honour for me to address the 23rd Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). I extend to you all the heartfelt greetings of the Turkish Cypriot people and our government.

I would like to, at the outset, thank the government and the brotherly people of the Republic of Tajikistan for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival in Dushanbe.

As Secretary-General H.E. Mr Ibrahim Halil Akça’s term of office is coming to an end, I would like to extend our gratitude to his Excellency for his vast contribution to the work of the Economic Cooperation Organisation. ECO vision 2025, an epic body of work, envisaging that “ECO will pave the way to a territory of integrated and sustainable economies as well as free trade area achieved by highly educated societies and improved governance through enhanced cooperation” has come to life during his tenure. I also would like to thank his Excellency for the continuous support he extended to the Turkish Cypriot people.

The Turkish Cypriot state, shares a common history and culture with the member states, and is fully committed to the objectives of the economic cooperation organisation at large and the ECO vision 2025 in particular.

As known we have been participating in the Organization’s activities and events since 1992, and were granted observer member status in 2012, which was extended in 2015. Since attaining the observer status, the Turkish Cypriot state has been a dedicated observer member, doing its utmost to contribute to the work of the organisation.

In this connection, I would like to state that we have been a keen participant at the meetings of the organisation at all levels; have co-hosted numerous successful ECO events in North Cyprus and will co-host 4 more events in line with the 2018 ECO calendar of events; last but not the least we grant scholarships to students from ECO member states to study at our universities.

We hope and trust that our observer membership will be renewed at this meeting today, so that we can continue to work with the member states towards the goals of this esteemed organisation, benefitting member states and our region. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the secretariat and all the member states for the valuable support they have given us as the observer member of ECO.

 As known, the unjust and inhuman isolation is still a harsh reality in the daily lives of my people, impeding our country’s development in all spheres of life, ranging from representation and trade to sports and culture.

For the last 50 years, the international community have asserted each year that that particular year would be the year for the settlement of the Cyprus problem and hence the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people would come to an end. However, a settlement in Cyprus has eluded us for 5 decades, because as the then UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan concluded, in his report of 28 May 2004, following the overwhelming rejection of the comprehensive settlement plan by the Greek Cypriot side, “The Greek Cypriot side is not ready to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriot people”. The Cyprus conference, held in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, in July 2017, which collapsed without a settlement, confirmed, yet once again, the said conclusion of the then UN Secretary- General.

Undoubtedly, the unjust isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people is one of the main contributors to the Greek Cypriot reluctance to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriot people for it allows them to unilaterally exploit all the benefits of the so-called government of Cyprus. Hence, removal of the isolation is likely to encourage the Greek Cypriot side to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriots, thus making a settlement more attainable in Cyprus.

I hope and trust that the secretariat and all the member states will urgently take concrete steps to ease this unjust isolation imposed on my people. We are ready to talk with the ECO Secretariat as well as with each and every member state about a road map on how we can further develop our relations and cooperation, which, would in effect, ease this isolation and, no doubt, bring beneficial results for all the parties concerned. In this regard, cooperation areas specified in the ECO vision 2025, namely “trade, transportation and connectivity, energy, tourism, economic growth and productivity as well as social welfare and environment”, are areas on which we can cooperate.

Thank you all for your most kind attention.”