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 during a televised interview on Friday evening 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, 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.
Answering another question, President Anastasiades said it is utterly unacceptable to expect the Greek Cypriots to pay the cost of a solution, adding that suggestions that the Greek Cypriots will support financially the Turkish Cypriots is unfounded and creates a negative climate in the current efforts towards a solution.
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.
“We have constructively responded to the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots. We are trying in every possible way to convey this message. Through specific policies, the other side must appreciate that it is not only one community that is worried but the other community has concerns and expectations too, the victim of the whole situation created after 1974 (when the Turkish invasion took place), irrespective of who bears the responsibility for the events of 1974”.
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”.
“We have made it clear, and it is also included in the joint communiqué of the 11th February 2014 that the talks will be conducted by the leaders of the two communities, without tight deadlines or arbitration, with free will and only and if the leaders reach a solution they will put it before the people who will have the last say”, he explained.
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.
“That is why we say Turkish troops are not necessary and that Turkey cannot guarantee the new state of affairs,” he said, and recalled that in 1974 Turkey, a guarantor power of Cyprus’ independence, invaded on the pretext of restoring constitutional order, following a military coup against the then president of Cyprus.
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”.
President Anastasiades also said that once a solution is in place, a compensation fund will be ready, adding that studies are underway as well as bilateral meetings with the EU and various organisations and states on this matter.
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.