Nicosia.- (CNA) — The greatest threat to efforts for a political settlement in Cyprus is a standstill, President Demetris Christofias has stressed, adding that inaction in the negotiation process does not guarantee that faits accomplis on the ground will cease to multiply.
Briefing the Central Council of POMAK (World Federation of Overseas Cypriots) and PSEKA (International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus) on recent developments, he recalled that the late Cyprus President Archbishop Makarios had searched for a compromise solution in the form of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined in relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
President Christofias said that Makarios had concluded that in order to get rid of the Turkish occupation, Cyprus had to evolve from a unitary state to a federal one with two regions, including all communities under its administration.
Speaking on the ongoing UN-led negotiations, President Christofias said some proposals agreed with the former Turkish Cypriot leader Talat on governance, airspace and issues relating to the four liberties “were pushing Turkey into a corner”. All these have been rejected by the current Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, with Turkey’s endorsement, he added.
Referring to his decision not to run again for office, he noted that the main reason lies with “Turkey’s transformation into an arrogant power” which decides to utilize its power in a negative way, both domestically and in the region.
He added that Turkey has become the “godfather” of regional uprisings and instead of being generous to the handling of the Cyprus problem, at least for the Turkish Cypriots’ sake, which the Turkish government claims to care about, Ankara “has become even more cruel and arrogant”.
On the Cyprus EU Presidency, the President said that EU officials consider it a success so far. The Republic of Cyprus holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU since July 1st, for a period of six months.
On recent hydrocarbon discoveries in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the President said that it is a complex and difficult issue, adding that the government has been aware of their existence since the 1980s.
He noted that Turkey’s reactions on the matter have been met with courage by the Republic.
Moreover, he said that if Ankara had wanted to be creative, it would have seized the opportunity, since there seem to be sufficient reserves beyond block 12.
Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.
The first licensing round, concluded in 2007, resulted in granting concessions to Houston-based “Noble Energy” for exploratory drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ block 12. Noble started drilling on September 2011 and the initial data that emerged from the exploratory drilling and the evaluation checks carried out, indicate the existence of a natural gas reservoir ranging from 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) with a gross mean of 7 tcf.
In response to Cypriot exploration activities, Ankara has deployed in the past warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf.
The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey’s moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.
President Christofias further added that a peaceful Cyprus solution would lead to a privileged relationship of Cyprus with both Greece and Turkey.
He added, however, that Turkish policy is shortsighted and may backfire, noting various developments in the region that may lead to a clash in its interior.
Responding to questions from expatriates, the President agreed that the passage of time without a Cyprus solution discourages people, but noted that politicians have a duty not to spread pessimism about the preferred federal solution.
Moreover, the President said that political and financial developments in Cyprus, as well as in Greece, are not propitious, and added that a policy shift by Nicosia would be a gift to Turkey, which awaits to dismiss high level agreements and the relevant UN resolutions on Cyprus.
Asked whether convergences achieved in the past 38 years can be codified in order not to start from scratch the negotiations, President Christofias said he wished the same, adding that this is one reason he leaves office disappointed.
On a question concerning the usurpation of Greek Cypriot property in the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, the President said that he has personally urged people many times not to apply to the so-called “immovable property commission”, set up by Turkey and the illegal regime.
Turkey occupied in 1974 36,2 percent of the sovereign territory of the Republic and forcibly expelled about 180.000 Greek Cypriots from their homes. Another 20.000 Greek Cypriots, who had remained in the occupied areas, were also forced to eventually abandon their homes and seek refuge in the safety of the government controlled areas. Turkey still deprives the displaced Greek Cypriots of their right to return to their homes and properties.
Asked whether the Republic of Cyprus has a defence agreement with Israel, the President responded negatively, noting that only an agreement for the exchange of classified information exists.
On economic developments, the President said that Cyprus will not “surrender” to the EU’s stability mechanism, but it will fight while negotiating the terms of a Memorandum.