- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

My election to the highest office of the Republic of Cyprus has coincided with a very delicate phase of developments in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. We are ready to face these developments with responsibility, seriousness and realism.
We, the members of the Greek Cypriot community, first and foremost, are anxious to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem. We, most of all, yearn for a quick solution because it is we who as victims of a continuing invasion and foreign occupation want the immediate cessation of the tragedy of our country, the reunification of our land and our people, the consolidation of security, the safeguarding of human rights and the building of a hopeful future for all the lawful inhabitants of our county: Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins.
Non-solution is not a solution. It is not even the conclusion of the Cyprus problem. On the contrary, it will mean the beginning of new dangers and new problems. The eventual solution to the Cyprus problem will be a compromise. But the compromise cannot be such that it will work against the functionality of the solution. If the solution is not functional it cannot be viable. If it is not viable it will not be permanent. If a non-solution includes the danger of the permanence of division, a non-functional solution guarantees the prospect of turning the partition into a de jure situation.
Our being conciliatory should not be misinterpreted by the Turkish side and the mediators as a sign of weakness. We are not afraid to negotiate in good faith. At the same time, we must not negotiate in a state of paralyzing fear and having as the only guarantee the assurances that the other side fervently desires, as we do, a speedy solution. Assurances bear the onus of proof. And the proof is whether the arrangements proposed are viable.
Our course should be guided by the historical truth that there are never losers in peace and winners in war, if war does not lead to peace. I will work and strive for a functional and viable solution.
The decision in Copenhagen in December by the European Council for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union undoubtedly constitutes a vindication of our efforts over a very long time. This vindication marks the start of a historic course for Cyprus, but it does not result in our resting on the laurels of this achievement. On the contrary, it enhances our efforts to respond effectively to the demands of the EU acquis communautaire and, primarily, to find at the earliest possible a solution to the Cyprus problem, because the accession of a reunited Cyprus will then function smoothly and without dangers, and it will allow the sharing of manifold advantages both for the Greek Cypriots and our Turkish Cypriot compatriots. And because no country and no people can enjoy prosperity for long when a significant part of the population or of the society remains in a state of poverty and economic degradation.
The decision for the accession of Cyprus is a historic landmark. It is not the end. It is the beginning of putting in practice harmonization with the EU. The responsibility for this great task falls on our government. I want to assure the authorities of the European Union and the world community that our intention is not to sign the accession treaty on April 16 and then turn our back on the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. Accession is not an end in itself. But the accession can, in fact, become the catalyst for the right solution to the Cyprus problem.
We are conscious of our heavy responsibilities for the solution of the Cyprus problem with the same conditions and the same provisions that we are now discussing, and we shall continue to work in this way, even after the signing of the accession treaty and if necessary after May 1, 2004, when Cyprus will join the EU as a full member. This is so because our steadfast aim is the solution of the Cyprus problem and the accession of a reunited Cyprus.
We live in an age of continuous challenges, great rivalries and pressing demands to adapt to rapid developments. This age does not tolerate anachronistic attitudes or slowing down in marching toward the future. Cyprus must keep in step with the pace the world is evolving.
As a people, we possess all the virtues and ability to adapt to the needs and demands of our times. At the same time, we are compelled to endure our great national ordeal, to fight for our survival, to follow and face effectively the modern challenges and to build our future with optimism.
What remains to be proved, and we shall prove it, is that we dare to reach a compromise, a creative compromise regarding the solution of our great national issue. We dare to pull out from the ruins of the past the living hope of tomorrow. We dare to walk along with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots the road to reconciliation, living together, in peace and common prosperity, in a common, united homeland.
Our vision for a united Cyprus within the European family, the vision for a peaceful and secure future, the vision for a society of equality and justice, the vision for a better quality of life, is common to all of us. I consider my election to the presidency of Cyprus as entrusting me with the responsibility of turning this vision into reality.

Tassos Papadopoulos is president of the Republic of Cyprus. He assumed office on Feb. 28, following his victory in the election of Feb. 16.

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