President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has said that the role of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership is of decisive significance in the UN-led peace talks, currently underway for a Cyprus solution, and rhetoric is insufficient for a positive outcome.
At the same time, President Anastasiades expressed hope that Monday`s start of negotiations in Switzerland focusing on territory will create such progress that will allow for a substantial discussion on security and guarantees.
In his opening remarks at a tevelised press conference 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, President Anastasiades said he goes to the talks with determination and with all the good will, bearing in mind that a solution should meet the expectations of the people of Cyprus.
He stressed that rhetoric is not enough for the talks to have a positive outcome. What should be understood is that an acceptable and dignified solution to the Cyprus issue will be to the advantage of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, he pointed out.
The President repeated that it is completely inappropriate to hear suggestions that the solution under discussion will lead to a conferedation instead of a federation.
Referring to the progress in the negotiations with Akinci, President Anastasiades said that talks so far indicate significant progress in the chapters of governance and power sharing, European Union, the economy and to a lesser extent the property issue.
He said that differences remain and there are different approaches on issues that have been discussed. The chapters of security, guarantees and territory, which will be decisive with regard to the final outcome of the talks, have not been the subject of substantial dialogue, he explained.
It is well known that on both issues there is significant divergence between the positions of the two sides, he acknowledged.
President Anastasiades said that for the first time, negotiations are at an advanced stage concerning the fact that a solution should benefit both the Greek Cypriots as well as the Turkish Cypriots from day one.
In this framework, he said, there is discussion that the fenced off part of Famagusta (under Turkish occupation since 1974) should be returned to its lawful inhabitants from day one, as well as all the uninhabited areas of the UN-controlled buffer zone. Similarly, there is also discussion on the need for a significant number of Turkish occupation troops to withdraw.
Anastasiades said that it should be understood that a respectable and acceptable to everyone solution of the Cyprus issue will benefit both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots as well as Turkey and the Turkish people.
President Anastasiades said that the new order of things, as defined since 1977 which was the framework of discussions by all his predecessors, provides for a change of the internal structure of the state of the Republic of Cyprus, from a unitary state to a federal system of government, on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
He underlined that it is completely inappropriate to claim that the negotiations underway will lead to a confederal solution instead of a federal.
At the same time, he recalled that the joint communique of the 11th of February of 2014 states that a federal constitution will determine that a united Cyprus will consist of two constituent states, of equal status, pointing out that these states will hail their legality from the provisions of the constitution.
It is for this reason, the President said, that “the founding treaty of the Republic of Cyprus, namely the Treaty of Establishment of 1960, will remain in force while Cyprus will continue to be a member of the UN and the European Union with all international conventions that have been signed since the Republic of Cyprus, still in effect.”
President Anastasiades pointed out that from the negotiations held so far, what emerges is that the three fundamental principles which define a state, according to international law, a single international identity, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship have been completely secured.
The President of the Republic said that discussions so far indicate important progress in the chapters of Governance, Power Sharing and the EU, the Economy and to a lesser extent, Property.
This progress, he said, in some cases, improves the relevant provisions of the 1960 Constitution for the benefit of the people of Cyprus.
In the framework of the discussions, he said, they are pursuing a powerful, effective and functional system of governance, given that a list of the competencies of the central state, which include external relations, relations with the EU, defence policy, management of natural resources, control and security of land, sea and air borders and immigration policy, has been agreed.
One of the fundamental characteristics of a federal system is to secure wider responsibilities for the constituent states which would relate to the daily lives of the citizens.
In this framework, he said, “it was agreed that each state will have exclusive responsibility to maintain an independent system of social insurance, its own health system, its education system, local administration and safeguard the unique ethnic, cultural and religious characteristics of each community”.
President Anastasiades said that through the fiscal stability pact which will be the responsibility of the federal government, apart from securing the economic viability of the federal state, each state will have an obligation to secure its economic viability and no constituent state will be asked to pay off the economic obligations of the other.
He also said that there will be strict rules to ensure healthy competition and applying European rules of product certification and services, in an effort to protect the business and economic activities of the citizens.
President Anastasiades said that to achieve important convergences, Cyprus’ status as a member of the EU and the need to align fundamental elements of a solution with the acquis communautaire are of decisive significance. This, he said, was achieved with the active involvement (of the EU) at the negotiating table, which has made inevitable the implementation of human rights and the application of fundamental freedoms, noting that these are absolutely vested.
Every citizen, the President said, in the framework of a solution, will be able to move freely throughout the whole of Cyprus, without any restriction and will have the right of settlement, the right to buy property, exercise a profession and engage in business activities.
The President also said that the electoral rights of those who enjoy the above rights will be secured even if they come from the other constituent state.
Another political convergence, he said, which has been achieved relates to the most serious concern of Cypriot Hellenism, that of changing the demographic composition of the population of Cyprus. The demographic character/nature of the island from day one of a solution will reflect, with a slight divergence, the demographic composition of the Republic of Cyprus of 1960, he explained.
What is more important, he said, is that this arrangement secures not only the present but also the future because for a Turkish national to acquire Cypriot citizenship, it is required that the same citizenship will have to be given to four Greeks.
President Anastasiades said that without hiding that important disagreements remain on the property issue, he cannot disregard the progress that has been achieved with the recognition of the right of ownership through certain procedures and remedies such as resettlement, partial restitution, alternate restitution, property exchange and compensation.
This right, he explained, is further secured with the right of the owner to resort to the European Court of Human Rights if he/she is not satisfied.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, namely President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, are currently engaged in UN-led negotiations to reunify the island under a federal roof.