Intervention by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of AKEL Andros Kyprianou at the meeting of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties on the subject “The constructive role of the political parties in the effort to solve the key outstanding issues in the negotiating procedure”
On behalf of AKEL, I welcome you to our meeting today. I express my gratitude to the government of Slovakia and especially to the Ambassador for facilitating and supporting over many years the organization of these meetings.
More specifically, today’s meeting is taking place at a critical point on the Cyprus problem. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the next few weeks are likely to determine the fate of the current negotiation procedure.
The theme chosen for today’s forum is not accidental. Currently an effort is underway, within the framework of the intense talks, to arrive at a conclusion on four chapters of the Cyprus problem. The goal is that there should remain at least fewer pending issues as possible when, in early November, the substantive discussion of the territorial issue will take place. Our sense is that on three of the four chapters (Governance and power sharing, the economy, EU matters) the remaining differences can be bridged more easily. If we can get within range of convergence on the property issue as well, the substantial discussion of the territorial issue will remain from the internal aspects. We believe that in any case a substantive discussion of the territorial issue must be conducted, even without a prior conclusion on the property issue. These two chapters are inextricably linked and their simultaneous negotiation would facilitate the solution of the differences that perhaps will remain. If this goal is achieved, then we will be able to enter the final stretch, that is, the discussion of the chapter on guarantees and security.
At this critical moment, that is now that the procedure is at an advanced stage, we would be out of order if we resumed the endless discussions which question the agreed framework of the solution. This would not be at all constructive. It is much more important to focus this time on how we help everyone in resolving the key outstanding issues. Of course, our role is not to substitute the negotiating procedure, but to contribute to the effort to reach a successful conclusion. We are not at an initial phase of the negotiation, but, as I said, at a point where the fate of the current negotiation procedure will be determined, which in reality began in 2008. It is therefore the moment of truth, and that is why I do not intend to spend time on well-known positions and analyzes that have been explained many times. I will outline briefly, directly and with upmost sincerity AKEL’s views on what should be done from now on.
If we do not manage in the forthcoming discussion of the territorial issue to get within range of convergence, then this negotiating procedure too will have the fate as those of the past and end dishonorably. The consequences resulting from a new deadlock would be extremely negative for both communities.
We are not among those who talk about “last chances”. There can always be a next opportunity if this is what both communities want and if the circumstances permit it. What is certain, however, is that the passage of time influences in a catalytic way and to the detriment of all the solution we are seeking. It is likely that the solution of bicommunal, bizonal federation will be undermined to such an extent that the orientation would now be towards other, separatist directions.
It is therefore necessary that we all assume our share of the burden of historical responsibility so that this effort has a successful conclusion. Let’s do everything we can to bridge and if possible eradicate the differences on the four chapters under discussion currently, so as to be make certain, but also to render the substantive discussion of the territorial issue more effective.
From the solution of the Cyprus problem, the Turkish Cypriots will attain legal and uninhibited participation in the federal state, its institutions and decisions within the framework of bicommunality and political equality. In addition, they will have secured the administration of a Turkish Cypriot constituent state. The Greek Cypriots on the other expect to get territories under their administration, as well as properties. I do not to say it accidentally. I wish I’m making a mistake, but I foresee in the Turkish Cypriot side a trend towards a minimal return of properties and marginal territorial adjustments. In such an eventuality, the Greek Cypriots will have no incentive for a solution. It is therefore absolutely necessary to return properties and for substantial territorial adjustments to be made. Without them it is absolutely certain that the Greek Cypriots would not choose to vote in favor of the solution in a new referendum.
I have left last the crucial issue of the guarantees and security. AKEL’s position on this issue is clear: both communities face a problem of security. We do not think it matters whether these concerns, and to what extent, are justified or not. What matters is that concerns do exist. We know very well that if the relevant concerns of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are not met, the solution that will be put forth is not going to pass the trail of the separate simultaneous referenda. Accordingly, the security of one community cannot be ensured at the expense of the other community’s security. Our Turkish Cypriot compatriots know that Greek Cypriots fear Turkey. Consequently, their security is not safeguarded by the anachronistic system of guarantees, the rights of intervention or the presence of Turkish troops. Another way to safeguard the Turkish Cypriots feeling about security must be sought.
Within the framework of a preliminary exchange of ideas, there were proposals from both sides on the issue of security. Turkey’s proposal cannot be accepted by the Greek Cypriot side. We note, however, that Turkey has shifted from its position in favour of maintaining the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee This is something on which we can build, of course, provided that this is not the last word of Ankara.
Apart from the specific benefits for each community, to which I have already referred to, we will all reap huge benefits from the solution of our political problem. The Cyprus problem can and must represent a shining example of harmonious and peaceful coexistence of different communities in the turbulent region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader Middle East. The economic benefits will be enormous. It is enough for me to mention the example of natural gas, that we consider as the common heritage of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which with the solution of the Cyprus problem can be exploited unhindered for the benefit of both communities.
In conclusion, let us not lose this opportunity too for a solution, which will primarily be in the interests of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, but also Greece, Turkey, the European Union and the peoples of the region.