Nicosia.- By Emilia Christofi/CNA
President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has said that the role of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership is of decisive significance in the UN-led peace talks, currently underway for a Cyprus solution, and rhetoric is insufficient for a positive outcome.
At the same time, President Anastasiades expressed hope that Monday`s start of negotiations in Switzerland focusing on territory will create such progress that will allow for a substantial discussion on security and guarantees.
In his opening remarks at a televised press conference ahead of next week`s meetings with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mustafa Akinci, at the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin, for intensive talks concentrating on territory, President Anastasiades said he goes to the talks with determination and with all the good will, bearing in mind that a solution should meet the expectations of the people of Cyprus.
He stressed that rhetoric is not enough for the talks to have a positive outcome. What should be understood is that an acceptable and dignified solution to the Cyprus issue will be to the advantage of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, he pointed out.
The President repeated that it is completely inappropriate to hear suggestions that the solution under discussion will lead to a conferedation instead of a federation.
Referring to the progress in the negotiations with Akinci, President Anastasiades said that talks so far indicate significant progress in the chapters of governance and power sharing, European Union, the economy and to a lesser extent the property issue.
He said that differences remain and there are different approaches on issues that have been discussed. The chapters of security, guarantees and territory, which will be decisive with regard to the final outcome of the talks, have not been the subject of substantial dialogue, he explained.
President Anastasiades said that for the first time, negotiations are at an advanced stage concerning the fact that a solution should benefit both the Greek Cypriots as well as the Turkish Cypriots from day one.
In this framework, he said, there is discussion that the fenced off part of Famagusta (under Turkish occupation since 1974) should be returned to its lawful inhabitants from day one, as well as all the uninhabited areas of the UN-controlled buffer zone. Similarly, there is also discussion on the need for a significant number of Turkish occupation troops to withdraw.
President Anastasiades said that the new order of things, as defined since 1977 which was the framework of discussions by all his predecessors, provides for a change of the internal structure of the state of the Republic of Cyprus, from a unitary state to a federal system of government, on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
He underlined that it is completely inappropriate to claim that the negotiations underway will lead to a confederal solution instead of a federal.
At the same time, he recalled that the joint communique of the 11th of February of 2014 states that a federal constitution will determine that a united Cyprus will consist of two constituent states, of equal status, pointing out that these states will hail their legality from the provisions of the constitution.
It is for this reason, the President said, that “the founding treaty of the Republic of Cyprus, namely the Treaty of Establishment of 1960, will remain in force while Cyprus will continue to be a member of the UN and the European Union with all international conventions that have been signed since the Republic of Cyprus, still in effect.”
President Anastasiades pointed out that from the negotiations held so far, what emerges is that the three fundamental principles which define a state, according to international law, a single international identity, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship have been completely secured.
The President of the Republic said that discussions so far indicate important progress in the chapters of Governance, Power Sharing and the EU, the Economy and to a lesser extent, Property.
This progress, he said, in some cases, improves the relevant provisions of the 1960 Constitution for the benefit of the people of Cyprus.
In the framework of the discussions, he said, they are pursuing a powerful, effective and functional system of governance, given that a list of the competencies of the central state, which include external relations, relations with the EU, defence policy, management of natural resources, control and security of land, sea and air borders and immigration policy, has been agreed.
One of the fundamental characteristics of a federal system is to secure wider responsibilities for the constituent states which would relate to the daily lives of the citizens.
In this framework, he said, “it was agreed that each state will have exclusive responsibility to maintain an independent system of social insurance, its own health system, its education system, local administration and safeguard the unique ethnic, cultural and religious characteristics of each community”.
President Anastasiades said that to achieve important convergences, Cyprus’ status as a member of the EU and the need to align fundamental elements of a solution with the acquis communautaire are of decisive significance. This, he said, was achieved with the active involvement (of the EU) at the negotiating table, which has made inevitable the implementation of human rights and the application of fundamental freedoms, noting that these are absolutely vested.
Every citizen, the President said, in the framework of a solution, will be able to move freely throughout the whole of Cyprus, without any restriction and will have the right of settlement, the right to buy property, exercise a profession and engage in business activities.
The President also said that the electoral rights of those who enjoy the above rights will be secured even if they come from the other constituent state.
Another political convergence, he said, which has been achieved relates to the most serious concern of Cypriot Hellenism, that of changing the demographic composition of the population of Cyprus. The demographic character/nature of the island from day one of a solution will reflect, with a slight divergence, the demographic composition of the Republic of Cyprus of 1960, he explained.
What is more important, he said, is that this arrangement secures not only the present but also the future because for a Turkish national to acquire Cypriot citizenship, it is required that the same citizenship will have to be given to four Greeks.
President Anastasiades said that without hiding that important disagreements remain on the property issue, he cannot disregard the progress that has been achieved with the recognition of the right of ownership through certain procedures and remedies such as resettlement, partial restitution, alternate restitution, property exchange and compensation.
This right, he explained, is further secured with the right of the owner to resort to the European Court of Human Rights if he/she is not satisfied.
Criteria have to be agreed
and maps must submitted if
progress is to be achieved
President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has said that if progress is to be achieved in the UN-led peace talks, to take place next week in Switzerland, the Turkish Cypriot side will have to agree to the criteria regarding territorial adjustments and submit relevant maps.
Answering questions at the press conference, Anastasiades said he will not, under any circumstances, accept setting a date for a multilateral meeting if there is no prior progress or a follow up of what is agreed at Mont Pelerin.
Asked if talks are to continue if there is no progress after the Switzerland meetings, the President said the dialogue will probably continue, adding that in order to proceed to the next step, ie a multilateral conference, there must be progress, which means criteria on territorial adjustments as well as maps, which will include all the criteria agreed.
“I want to repeat that progress is not limited to criteria alone, but it also relates to the maps which will reflect all that is secured through the criteria”, the President said.
For this reason, in order to have a next step, whether that is called a multilateral or something else, there should be relevant progress.
He explained that an agreement on the criteria means simultaneous submission of maps at the negotiating table. “This is what has been agreed. If progress is achieved on the criteria, the Turkish Cypriot side will have to submit a map which reflects the agreed criteria, therefore the next possible phase would be a multilateral (meeting) since divergences on other differences will be minimised”.
This, he added, does not depend on the Greek Cypriot side only but it also depends on the stance that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership will adopt.
The President also said the Greek Cypriot side is seeking the return of at least 100 thousand Greek Cypriots under Greek Cypriot administration.
Invited to outline his position on territory, President Anastasiades said that “we will seek those adjustments that will allow the maximum number of Greek Cypriots to return to their homes.”
He pointed out that without substantial territorial adjustments, the property issue will not be resolved in a fair manner because it is directly associated with territorial adjustments, adding that people will have to appreciate that reasonable and fair adjustments will be made to reach a solution acceptable to the Greek Cypriots.
Asked if the dialogue will continue if there is no progress after a week of negotiations at Mont Pelerin, President Anastasiades said the intention as far as the Greek Cypriot side is concerned is to continue and reach the soonest a solution that will address the concerns of the Greek Cypriots.
Invited to say if he is under pressure to accept strict deadlines, citing statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the UN and Special Advisor on Cyprus, Espen Bartb Eide are trying to exert pressure for an international conference on security, President Anastasiades said “I have not felt any pressure”.
Asked if talks will continue, if there is no progress after the Switzerland meetings, the President said “the dialogue will most likely continue. What will not be achieved is a solution in 2016”.
However, he said that a dialogue cannot continue indefinitely without results. The President said the Greek Cypriot side has been pursuing a solution since 1974. The fact that no solution was achieved so far, unfortunately is due to Turkish intransigence, he noted.
He also said that he did not agree to a joint press conference with Akinci since he did not want to give the impression that “we have reached an interim solution. This would not have been right since based on the principles that we have set, nothing is agreed unless everything is agreed.”
On the issue of guarantees, President Anastasiades said that a “modern, European state does not need guarantors or occupation troops”.
He said the proposal of the Greek Cypriot side on this matter does not provide for the presence of Turkish troops. Turkey cannot guarantee the new state of affairs or the state that will evolve, the President added.
President Anastasiades talked about a strengthened UN mandate or a multinational force under the UN, which will be responsible for the smooth implementation of a solution, noting the Security Council is the body that can undertake this task and the Greek Cypriot proposals provide for resorting to the Security Council, if it is deemed necessary.
The UN, he said, must monitor and make sure there is a smooth transition to the new situation.
At the same time, he said for issues involving public order, apart from the police forces which the constituent states will have, the federal police will also be asked to intervene if the local police cannot.
He also said that he will not negotiate under threat and he will not retreat.
“We insist that there should be sufficient security from the moment a solution is achieved. Sufficient security means those involved should implement their commitments”, he remarked.
“We will continue efforts to solve the Cyprus issue because it is to the interest of the people of Cyprus. At some point, this uncertainty must end, stability should be firmly established and we should exploit our natural resources and create conditions of working together, living together, creating together”, the President added.
If others are raising obstacles to a solution, they will have to undertake the responsibility for the failure of such an exhaustive effort towards a settlement, the President added.
Invited to comment on remarks by the head of an oil company in Turkey that the Turkish survey vessel Barbaros is to conduct research again off the coast of Cyprus in the near future, President Anastasiades said that “this makes a solution more imperative”.
Commenting on statements earlier this week by the chairman of the European Stability Mechanism that it cannot finance a solution, President Anastasiades explained that EU funds are not the same as the ESM funds.
The President said bilateral contacts take place with various countries which are ready to provide financial assistance, expressing hope that once a solution is reached, Turkey will also contribute towards its cost.