Özdil Nami, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,  made  the opening  statement at The Conference on Water and Food Security in The Organization of Islamic Cooperation  Member Countries on 22 November.

The full text is as follows,

Mr. Secretary General, Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great honor and pleasure that I extend our sincere welcome to all distinguished guests and participants to the conference on Water and Food Security in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member Countries, which is jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank. It is a great privilege for us to host such an important event here in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

At the outset, I wish to extend our deep gratitude to his Excellency    Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, for his personal support accorded to the Turkish Cypriot people in their rightful struggle. I also would like to extend our deep appreciation to his Excellency Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani, the President of the Islamic Development Bank for his generous contributions to organize this conference.

I also would like to thank the honorable ministers and all the delegates from member states, the honorable representatives of various OIC agencies as well as all the esteemed representatives of other institutions and guests for their participation in this important event.

I hope and believe that the conference will significantly contribute to increasing awareness about the problems and solutions on water and food security throughout the Muslim world and will further strengthen the solidarity and cooperation between the Turkish Cypriot people and the peoples of the brotherly member states of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.

Many countries all around the world are suffering from water shortage and its devastating consequences due to global climatic changes. Regrettably, some of the OIC member countries are worst affected by this phenomenon and the subsequent food-related problems that stem from lack of sufficient amount of water.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is one of the most affected countries which are short of surface water and ground water due to inadequate rainfall. At this point, I would like to proudly express that “The Northern Cyprus Water Supply Project” which is a unique international water diversion project designed to supply water for drinking and irrigation from Southern Turkey to Northern Cyprus via pipelines under the Mediterranean Sea is underway and the project is expected to be completed in March, 2014. The Northern Cyprus water supply project is not only a solution to the water problem of Turkish Cypriot people, but the project may also pave the way for further cooperation with the Greek Cypriot side which also suffer from water shortage problems.

Distinguished guests,

Let me now briefly inform you about the recent situation regarding the Cyprus negotiations. As all the distinguished delegates are well aware, the Turkish Cypriot side`s positive and constructive approach in the process has not been so far reciprocated by the Greek Cypriot side. Our “yes” vote to the UN plan to unite Cyprus in 2004 met with the “no” vote of Greek Cypriots.

It has become clear that the Greek Cypriot side is playing for time in order to take further advantage of its international recognition and unilateral European Union membership even during the efforts of preparing a joint statement which would simply underline the basic parameters of a comprehensive settlement before the resumption of the talks. Regrettably, the joint statement could not have been finalized for almost two months.

Distinguished delegates,

At this juncture, the Turkish Cypriot side is expecting the United Nations to make a fair and objective evaluation as to why the Cyprus issue has not been resolved during the past fifty years. Turkish Cypriots cannot be forced to wait forever in isolation from the rest of the world. Negotiations cannot be an open-ended process as this will only serve to perpetuate the Greek Cypriot usurpation of the title of the “Government of the Republic of Cyprus” while continuing to keep the Turkish Cypriots under unjust embargoes.

The Turkish Cypriot side desires an early settlement to the Cyprus problem and the talks should be carried out in a time-framed manner and with the active involvement of the UN in the process. This is the only way to achieve a settlement without any further delay. Therefore, we are expecting the resumption of the negotiations immediately with the ultimate target of reaching a just and lasting settlement.

In this respect, we strongly believe that the negotiations should continue based on agreements reached so far, building on them and where necessary improving these convergences with mutual consent. Once this is achieved, we can have a new federal republic in Cyprus that is a member of the EU and safeguards bi-zonal, bi-communal nature of the federation.

Mr. Secretary General,

We are very grateful to the esteemed members of the OIC for their unequivocal support extended to the just cause of the Turkish Cypriot people through successive OIC resolutions and declarations. These resolutions and declarations call upon member states to strengthen effective solidarity with the Turkish Cypriots and to take concrete steps to end the unjust and inhuman isolation imposed on the Turkish Cypriots. Moreover, the relevant resolutions and declarations also call upon all member states to further develop bilateral relations with the Turkish Cypriots in all fields such as direct transport, trade, tourism, culture, education, sports and to exchange high-level visits with the Turkish Cypriot side.

Therefore, in the absence of a comprehensive settlement in the island, we are expecting all the member countries to take concrete steps towards ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people. Needless to say, this will also encourage the Greek Cypriot side towards reaching a comprehensive settlement.

Before I conclude, I would like to reiterate our profound gratitude to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, its institutions for their valuable support and to express, once more, our strong belief that this conference will further strengthen the solidarity and cooperation between the Turkish Cypriot people and the peoples of the brotherly OIC member states.

Last but not the least; I would like to extend once again, our deepest thanks to H.E. Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu for his support to the just cause of the Turkish Cypriot people and for his invaluable contributions to the Islamic Ummah during his term as the secretary general of the OIC. However, we are all very much saddened that the Secretary General will soon be leaving the office and would like to wish him all the health, happiness and success in his future endeavors. We will always remember Prof. Ihsanoğlu’s great contribution to the OIC and his tireless efforts to further develop cooperation among the OIC member states.

I thank you for your most kind attention and wish all of you every success during the deliberations of this important conference.