The unsuccessful conclusion of the negotiations in Mont Pelerin in the early hours of Tuesday morning was a sad day for Cyprus, precipitated by Turkish Cypriot positions that ran contrary to the agreed basis of the Mont Pelerin discussions and UN expert estimates. Despite this unfortunate turn of events, the goal remains to end the Turkish occupation and reunite Cyprus. This is exactly the goal that the President and the Government of Cyprus will continue to strive for.
The President of Cyprus expressed his own personal disappointment at the lack of an agreement saying it was a sad day for our island but the struggle to reunite Cyprus would continue. Speaking on the evening of 23 November, President Anastasides said “Despite the disappointment that is normal to have been caused by the result in Mont Pelerin, I would like to offer assurances that I am determined and ready, while always respecting the reasonable concerns of the Greek Cypriots – and I underline this – without overlooking those of the Turkish Cypriots, to take all the necessary actions so that the dialogue can restart.”
It was agreed that the negotiations in Mont Pelerin would focus mainly on territory with three criteria to be discussed:
(a) The extent of the territory of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state, after the territorial adjustments
(b) The number of refugees that would return under Greek Cypriot administration and
(c) The extent of the coastline, which would surround the area of each constituent state.
President Anastasiades and Mr Akinci agreed in principle on the extent of territory of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state which should fall between 28.2% that is the Greek Cypriot position and 29.2% that is the Turkish Cypriot position. On that basis, the UN experts calculated the number of refugees that would likely be returning under Greek Cypriot administration at between 78,247 and 94,484. Whilst President Anastasiades was willing to accept this number of refugees returning the Turkish Cypriot leader, contrary to what was agreed on the extent of the territory of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state was not. Mr Akinci proposed initially that the number of Greek Cypriots that would be returning should not exceed 55,000 and later during the last stage of the negotiation proposed 65,000.
Moreover the Mr Akinci’s intention to interconnect the territorial chapter with the chapter of Security and Guarantees was evident in Mont Pelerin. The Turkish Cypriot positions not only ran contrary to what was agreed as the basis for the Mont Pelerin dialogues but also UN expert estimates driving the discussions towards a deadlock.
Sadly though it also seems that once again Turkey continues to hold the key to the negotiations to reunite Cyprus. The territorial discussions seem to have focused on the occupied town of Morphou – a largely Greek Cypriot town before the Turkish invasion. President Anastasiades has consistently sought the return of Morphou to Greek Cypriot control, to maximise the number of refugees able to return to their homes and to minimise the compensation required. However, Mr Erdogan as recently at 10 November was quoted as saying “Morphou will never be given back”.
The President of the National Federation of Cypriots, Christos Karaolis said “As the Cypriot diaspora in the UK we continue fully support the President Anastasiades in his efforts to reunite Cyprus and its people and we are hopeful that the dialogue will re-commence.” He went on to say “Whilst it is too early to assess the implications of these events on the overall negotiating process, two things are clear. Firstly, throughout the process, the President of Cyprus has shown the willingness and determination to continue the negotiations to end the Turkish occupation. Secondly, the negotiations to reunite Cyprus will struggle to succeed whilst Turkey and its President, Mr Erdogan, continue to intervene in an unhelpful manner. The time has come for Turkey to demonstrate with actions and not just words that it is serious about solving the Cyprus issue. Guarantees and Turkish troops have no place in a 21st century Cyprus.”