Interview with Toumazos Tsielepis, AKEL Political Bureau member, Head of the Cyprus Problem Office of AKEL and International Law expert
“The widening divergence concerns the substance, which is the basis of the negotiations”
How do you assess in diplomatic terms the latest report submitted by the Secretary General of the UN on the Cyprus problem? Does it send out specific messages and warnings?
TT: I understand that you are referring to the Report on the good office, which as such undoubtedly sends out specific messages too. It is obvious both from the letter, but mainly from the spirit of the Report that the Secretary General is very concerned about the fact that one side is now talking about two states, while the other does not demonstrate much consistency to its declarations in favor of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality and the continuation of the procedure from where it had remained at Crans Montana with the convergences and the Guterres Framework. The Secretary General stresses that the status quo is not static and that the primary responsibility for what follows lies with both sides and not with the UN.
Do you think that there is a deviation from the solution of bizonal, bicommunal federation and that a new framework is being formulated on the Cyprus problem on the basis of a “new realism”?
TT: The so-called “new realism” expressed not by chance by some individual, but by the DISY Vice President himself, adds another link to the chain of actions and statements that question the framework that has been agreed for decades now and merely confirms the fears of the UN that the Greek Cypriot side does not believe in a federal solution.
Is the ground perhaps being prepared for a two-state solution and a “velvet” partition?
TT: Although someone might rightly say that events disprove me, I honestly do not want to believe that there are Greek Cypriots who want to sell off almost 40% of Cypriot territory to Turkey. I don’t think there is a state in the world that seeks to have a land border with Turkey. Is it at all possible for us who have lived through the Turkish invasion and are continuing to experience the occupation to be seeking it?
What do you think about the Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s) proposed by the President, as well as the proposal submitted by AKEL?
TT: These are two very different philosophies and approaches. Taking into account the dramatic developments to our disadvantage after the collapse at Crans Montana, the fait accompli in Varosha and the Exclusive Economic Zone, with Tatar assuming the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community and the turn towards a two-state solution, AKEL submitted a proposal to the President of the Republic which has two parts.
The first part concerns the resumption and successful conclusion of the negotiation procedure. We have underlined to the President that he must convince that his verbal statements calling for a continuation of the talks from the point they had remained at Crans Montana with the convergences and the Guterres Framework are sincere. The reason for the absence of negotiations for three and a half years is precisely because he isn’t convincing. For him to be convincing, he must make specific commitments, which we have also pointed out.
The second part concerns incentives towards both the Turkish Cypriot community as well as Turkey, which do not go beyond our “red lines” in an effort to bring them back to the point we had remained at Crans Montana. We do not have a magic wand and we don’t know if they will respond. But we are absolutely certain that if the President had adopted even the spirit of our proposal, we would have won back the lost trust of the UN and the international community.
The President chose to pursue another path, bringing back grandiose CBM’s, cut off from the substance about which he does not propose anything. These CBM’s are essentially measures that were discussed for two whole years in the past (1993-94) and ended in complete failure. Of course, CBM’s which do not replace, but assist the negotiation procedure are welcome and this is precisely what the Secretary General of the UN says in his report.

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