“Haravgi” daily newspaper, Sunday 23rd October 2016
The territorial issue will be discussed in the meeting due to commence between the two leaders in Zurich. Will the result of these talks also determine the subsequent steps on the Cyprus problem?
AK: We believe that developments on the territorial issue will determine the further course of the Cyprus problem. Our own desire was for the territorial issue to be discussed simultaneously with the property issue. It is a position which we have supported for several years. We believe that such a discussion would help enormously towards finding common ground on these issues. I hope and wish that whatever discussions take place in Switzerland will aim at the two communities finding solutions, without the imposition or exertion of pressure on our side to make concessions. We will monitor developments and shall state our position based on the results.
Do you consider it appropriate for the political leadership to go to Switzerland?
AK: I don’t know what the two leaders have decided. What we do know is what was said by the President of the Republic that if this discussion were to take place abroad then the political leaders would accompany him. There is speculation that the leaders won’t accompany the President. Our position is that the decision on the territorial issue is a primarily political decision. We explained our views to the President. There are the long-standing positions of our side. Our appeal to the President, if he eventually goes there alone, is to build on the frameworks that have been repeatedly discussed in the National Council.
A moment ago you expressed the wish that any pressure on our side should be avoided. The past has left us with a bitter taste. Do you foresee such a danger today?
AK: It would be naive to believe that nobody will attempt to exert pressure, on the part of the US, I don’t hesitate to name them. Their aim is to promote a solution of the Cyprus problem within certain specific contexts. What is important is that we resist the machinations, which they will attempt to derail the discussion from the correct basis. At the same time, we should persuade of the correctness of our positions in relation to the solution of the various aspects of the Cyprus problem. The appeal we address to the President of the Republic, if and provided that such pressures are indeed attempted, is to resist them and put forth arguments to convince because they cannot be accepted by our side. I repeat, it would be naive to believe that certain forces and circles would not seek to promote some of their thoughts in relation to the solution of various aspects of the Cyprus problem.
As far as AKEL is concerned, we will never, if the two leaders finally reach an agreement, show blind faith in whatever is said to us. We will study carefully all the texts and only then will AKEL formulate a final position. Nobody should consider that AKEL is given and that it should be taken for granted, with regards whatever is agreed between the two leaders.
You are talking about the overall text of the proposed solution …
Yes, about the full text.
AK: The issue of security is one of the unresolved problems of the Cyprus problem. How do you see the difficulties being overcome and this issue being solved?
AK: The position of principle, as we have stated it for several years via Demetris Christofis – when he was President of the Republic – is that an EU member –state does not need guarantees. We say that the Republic of Cyprus, or as it will be called in the solution, does not need guarantees. We understand that in a transition period there must be a regulation on security issues in order to meet the concerns of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. We are ready, therefore, to discuss what this security system could be for a transitional period. The President of the Republic has submitted a proposal. We believe that the President’s proposal can be a very good basis for a discussion as regards solving the crucial security issue. I therefore once again make it clear: No guarantees, be they Turkish, NATO, or any other guarantees. Yes to a transitional arrangement which we are ready to discuss, and again however within the same context: No Turkish guarantees, no NATO guarantees.
Is the involvement of the members of the UN Security Council on this issue a priority? What was Russia’s position during the AKEL delegation’s visit to Moscow? What do the remaining four members of the Security Council say?
AK: AKEL’s long-standing position as regards the discussion of the security issue is that this issue should be discussed and resolved at an international conference, provided of course that it has been prepared properly. At this international conference, we insist on the participation of the UN through its Secretary-General, but also of the five permanent UN Security Council members. The Republic of Cyprus, the two communities and the guarantor powers must participate. If the EU wants to be present, we will not have no objection whatsoever. Russia is ready, if and provided that it is requested to participate in such a conference.
Our own view is that if an agreement is concluded, then this must be accompanied by a strong UN Security Council resolution, to ensure that it whatever agreement is concluded will be implemented. And to do this, the permanent members of the Security Council must participate in this international conference so as to also assume the responsibility for promoting this strong resolution in the Security Council.
Is the stand of the Greek government on this issue supportive?
AK: The Greek government has stated its position repeatedly regarding this issue based on principled positions. The fact that Greece insists that there mustn’t be any system of guarantees and the fact that it is insisting that that troops must not remain on the island after the solution strengthens our efforts to convince that this must be implemented.
I must say that the British attitude is also supportive. And Britain has said that if it is requested to be a guarantor it has no demand to continue to fulfill this role. Besides, it is against International Law for an EU member-state to continue to have a system of guarantees.
The domestic front, once again, appears to be fragmented. Documents are being retrieved from the dustbin of history, or even presented in a falsified and misleading way, aiming to scare the people about the solution and its content…
AK: We regret the situation on the domestic front. We believe that in the critical phase the negotiation on the Cyprus problem is going through, we should be all very careful. I understand that some people have different views. And I respect that. I would have expected, however, that they would attempt to play a constructive role, to contribute to the reflections of the President of the Republic, so that he goes to the negotiations in the strongest possible position and that they judge things by the results. We are committed that we will go to a referendum. The clear position of AKEL is that if and provided that there is an agreement it must be put before the Cypriot people in a referendum. Therefore, some forces shouldn’t be worried.
Fear is one thing and having concerns, of course, is something else…
AK: The President of the Republic has pledged for a period of three months to be given, so that the political parties study the texts, inform the people of Cyprus and conduct a public debate. Then and only then should the Cypriot people be called upon to state their own opinion in a referendum. We will have time, therefore, for everyone to put forth their views comprehensively.
In our view, the attempt to cultivate a culture of fear among the people – and indeed in many cases by building on distortions or on documents that belong to the past and not the present – is erroneous. Our appeal to everyone, to the President of the Republic primarily, is for everyone to assume their share of responsibility to forge the greatest possible unity on the domestic front. At the critical moment Turkey always portrays a united front. Let us try for once also achieve this united front
The situation in our region – how much does it complicate the Cyprus problem?
AK: It depends on what Mr. Erdogan will decide. The situation in our region is certainly very difficult and complex and this, I would say, limits the in-depth involvement of many on the international political scene with the Cyprus problem. At the same time I would say that because they are interested in solving some problems in the region, given the complexity of the situation, such an effort could start from the Cyprus problem, which is much more mature than the other issues – in the sense that it has been discussed extensively over the last eight years, both during the period of Demetris Christofis and Mehmet Ali Talat and today between Anastasiades and Akinci. I would like to believe, therefore, that it will be considered that the Cyprus problem could be solved and be given priority by some forces among the international community in the efforts for a solution, hoping that such a development will also set a precedent for the solution of other regional problems as well.
“Haravgi” daily newspaper, Sunday 23rd October 2016