Prospects of finding a Cyprus solution seemed to recede sharply after the Turkish Cypriot side on Thursday refused to join Greek Cypriots in negotiations for a second time in a week, analysts said.
Kosta Gouliamos, the rector of the European University in Nicosia, told Xinhua in an interview that Turkey is insisting on unreasonable arrangements, such as maintaining troops in Cyprus and asking for rights that would be entirely unacceptable to Greek Cypriots.
“The way Turkey acts lately makes me very skeptical about the prospects of a solution,” said Gouliamos.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told state radio that he has come to the conclusion that the Turkish side is trying to grind on time.
He added that during the last two months, it has not shown any desire to work towards tying loose ends that would promote a final agreement for the reunification of Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci failed to join in this week’s meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, insisting that the Greek lawmakers move to rescind a decision to honor in schools a 1950 referendum in support of “enosis (union)” with Greece.
Despite an appeal for the immediate resumption of the talks by Anastasiades, who called the decision ill-timed and “wrong”.
He pointed out that the negotiations over the last 21 months were based on an agreement to exclude the integration of all or part of Cyprus with any other country.
Meanwhile, Akinci choose to travel to Pakistan to attend as an observer an Islamic conference.
“It is more than evident that the Turkish side is grinding on time. Since the Geneva conference on Cyprus in January, Akinci has become unrecognizable. The man who insisted on the speeding up of the negotiations has not taken even a step towards more convergences in the negotiations,” Kasoulides said.
He added that Akinci is instead using the “enosis” referendum as a pretext to provide arguments supporting Turkey’s demand to maintain troops and guarantee rights over Cyprus.
Gouliamos had an explanation for these tactics by Akinci. He said Turkey says it wants a solution, but it means a solution which will suit it.
“I have doubts that Turkey wants a solution that would require it to remove its occupation troops from Cyprus and to end its 1960 guarantee rights,” Gouliamos said.
Turkey maintains about 43,000 troops in Cyprus since it occupied its northern part in 1974, in reaction to a coup by the military rulers of Greece to overthrow the then Cypriot president.
Turkey also has guarantee rights over Cyprus under the 1960 treaties that established Cyprus as an independent state after being a British colony for 100 years.
Gouliamos does not think that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will follow a softer line on Cyprus if he carries out the referendum in April to approve constitutional changes that will make him an executive president.
“Turkey’s policies are drawn by its National Security Council and they want to have Cyprus under their influence, a kind of protectorate,” said Gouliamos.
In these unfavorable circumstances, the internationally-recognized Cypriot government which represents the eastern Mediterranean island in the United Nations and the European Union, is following a wait-and-see policy.
“It takes two sides to conduct negotiations. President Anastasiades is ready to continue the dialogue any time and it is up to the Turkish Cypriots to decide to return to the talks,” government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told Xinhua on Thursday.
He added that the Turkish Cypriot side does not seem to be interested in talks at present and is putting forth more and more demands so as to gain time until the April referendum.
He added that in the meantime the government is informing international players about the situation.
Christodoulides said that the Cypriot permanent representative has already briefed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is involved in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem through a personal envoy.
He also said that Anastasiades will brief European leaders during an upcoming EU summit and ask for their help for the negotiations to resume.