Cyprus` President Nicos Anastasiades has said that the most significant differences on Cyprus issue, lie in the core and fundamental chapters of Territory – which is linked with the chapter of Property – and Security and Guarantees, which will weigh significantly as to whether a solution would be feasible.
“If we succeed to overcome the difficulties that exist in these two Chapters, I am hopeful that a solution can be reached soon even before the end of this year”, he said in his speech at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin with title “My vision of Cyprus’s role in the European Union”.
As regards the current state of play in the negotiations, he said that progress has been achieved on an important number of issues related to the chapters of Governance and Power-Sharing, Economy and the EU, while some progress has been achieved on the chapter of Property. At the same time, he said, there are still divergences and issues to thoroughly negotiate on these Chapters.
The President also expressed the belief that Cyprus` capacity as a member-state of the EU more than adequately addresses any security concerns and provides the best guarantee for all Cypriots.
“During our deliberations to find a lasting solution one of the main core issues is the position of Turkey to keep occupied troops for the so called security of the Turkish Cypriots. Greece does not want to be a guarantor power any more, Britain keeps a very positive position saying that unless both communities ask it is not interested to continue being a guarantor power, so the only remaining guarantor power who wants to continue, and to maintain Turkish troops is Turkey,” he noted.
He also said that based on what has been already agreed regarding the structure of the new state of affairs, it is crystal-clear that maintaining third country military troops or guarantees in 2016, in an EU member state is not only unnecessary but also an anachronism in today’s World.
The President also said that it is vital for Turkey to show commitment, engage constructively and proceed with concrete and tangible steps which will positively reinforce the negotiating process.
“Our negotiations continue this month, with the aim to bridge the gap on existing differences and pending issues, as well as achieve progress on all those issues that we have yet to thoroughly discuss”, he said.
He added that the guiding doctrine throughout the negotiating process is to freely reach a solution that is well-prepared and presents to the people a clear settlement, with no constructive ambiguities and deficiencies. “We want to ensure not only the smooth, speedy and secure implementation of the settlement, but also its viability and functionality”.
“Otherwise, any hurried actions will constitute a repetition of mistakes of the past, will not lead to the desired result and will jeopardize our prospect of reaching a settlement, bringing justifiable disappointment to the people with consequent negative repercussions”, he said.
A constructive regional role for Cyprus
Referring to the role of Cyprus in Europe and its wider region he said that “one of our key foreign-policy goals is for Cyprus to perform a constructive, predictable and non-conflicting regional role”.
“In this regard, we have actively embarked on further strengthening of our already excellent relations with our neighbors with whom we share a perceptive affinity as regards the vision of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Eastern Mediterranean”, he said.
On the one hand, he said, Cyprus has expanded bilateral partnerships via frequent exchange of visits at all levels and through enhancing the beneficial collaboration in areas of mutual interest. On the other hand, he added, in close coordination with Greece, Cyprus has undertaken initiatives that have led to the establishment of trilateral co-operation mechanisms with a number of our southern neighborhood partners like Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon.
“Such trilateral mechanisms have gradually evolved from political declarations to the adoption of concrete actions in an array of fields, including the vital areas of security and defense, maritime cooperation, trade, agriculture and, of course, energy”, he said.
Referring to the discovery of substantial amounts of hydrocarbons in the region, the President said that it has opened up new possibilities for cooperation and synergies, not only between the countries of the region, but also between the EU and those countries through Cyprus.
“Thus, Cyprus, being the most predictable and stable partner of the EU in the region, has the potential to become a regional energy hub and part of a web of natural gas transportation projects in the Eastern Mediterranean or from Eastern Mediterranean to Europe and elsewhere”, he said.
Building a stronger Europe
Cyprus having only recently come out of the economic crisis successfully, the same way Ireland did, having both worked hard and with determination, is now ready to work with its European partners to build a stronger Europe, said the President.
“We must make the Union more streamlined, efficient, relevant and functional, and also send a clear message that not only the Union remains committed to its founding objectives and principles, but that it also is determined to remain actively engaged in international affairs”, he said.
Referring to UK’s future exit of the EU, he said that it represents another major challenge for Europe. and even more so for Cyprus and Ireland.
“As a result of our extended ties with the UK, we are the two countries that will probably be the most affected by this. Fully aware of the magnitude and complexity of the task, we look forward in the coming months to hearing from the UK on how it intends to proceed with the exit negotiation process as well as on how it envisages its future relationship with the EU“, he said.
He also noted that UK’s participation in the single market as well as the protection of the “four freedoms” are expected to be the critical issues during the negotiations, noting that in any case, this must be a Council-led process, with the member-states having the last word in the negotiations.
“We, on our part, are already in the process of identifying the areas that will be affected by Britain’s exit from the EU. We have a particular concern on fiscal issues and taxation, where we will lose a partner within the EU with whom we often saw eye to eye. We understand that Ireland, due to its special ties with the UK, has its own particular concerns, which go even beyond the economic aspects and touches, I would say, every aspect of your daily life”, he said.
The President stressed that a solution to the Cyprus problem can, among others, become a paradigm of how the adoption of a reconciliatory stance can contribute to the resolution of difficult international issues, prevail over mistrust and serve as an example of peaceful coexistence between different communities. This, as he said, would also be in the best interest of Greece-Turkey relations and EU-Turkey relations as well as Europe and its cooperation with NATO.
“Cyprus could serve as beacon of peaceful coexistence in a turbulent neighborhood and enhance its role as a bridge between Europe and the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, in fostering peace and prosperity in the wider region”, he pointed out.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Peace talks between Anastasiades and Akinci have been underway since May 2015, aiming to reunify the island under a federal roof.