Interview with former AKEL General Secretary A.Kyprianou:
‘No negotiations can resume with Confidence Building Measures’
‘In 2015 Anastasiades agreed with AKEL’s proposals on gas’
Sunday 27 February 2022, ‘Haravgi’ newspaper
● If the government really wants to get something done, it must abandon its regressions and give convincing answers on political equality and natural gas.
● In 2015 we submitted a proposal to the National Council on natural gas issues. Mr. Anastasiades agreed with it back then. He even authorised me to discuss it with Turkish Foreign Minister Mr. Davutoglu in 2016.
● If there is no single FIR under jurisdiction of the central government, there is a serious possibility that it could be considered that there are two separate entities in Cyprus
Question: How do you view the government proposals for Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s) which, as the President and the new Foreign Minister say, are aimed at resuming the talks?
AK: No negotiation whatsoever resumes with CBM’s. The specific CBM’s proposed are measures that have been proposed in the past too and have been rejected by the Turkish Cypriot side. Regardless of the content of these measures, what is important is that regrettably they cannot lead to a resumption of the negotiations.
After the collapse of the Crans Montana conference, AKEL had warned the government that it must take initiatives for the continuation of the negotiations from the point where they had remained. Unfortunately, too many developments taken place since then that have rendered the resumption of the negotiations more difficult.
Turkey has escalated further its aggression and intransigence. It has proceeded to actions which are poisoning the climate, both in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus and in Varosha. Also negative is Turkey’s unacceptable and provocative demand for a two-state solution.
Question: So what do you think President Anastasiades should be focusing on?
AK: All these actions are consolidating partition further. If the government really wants to get something done, it must abandon its regressions and contradictions, with proposals it has submitted such as the return to the 1960’s Constitution, and seek to provide convincing answers on the issue of political equality and on the natural gas issues.
Mr. Anastasiades claims that AKEL’s proposal that was submitted in December 2020 calls for concessions to be made. This is a big lie. What AKEL is asking him to do is to accept the convergence that has been recorded on political equality. As to the natural gas issues, we as AKEL have proposed that we should reaffirm all that has been proposed in the past.
All that we are proposing, those proposals concerning the negotiations will only be implemented if substantive discussions resume and those concerning Turkey and natural gas will only be implemented if we agree on a solution.
Question: Mr. Anastasiades has repeatedly rejected in public the one positive vote of the Turkish Cypriots on vital issues that concern them, let alone to say that the impression that exists today is that he doesn’t even concern himself with the Cyprus problem in the slightest…
AK: Mr. Anastasiades has backtracked on proposals he has himself has submitted in the past. In 2015 AKEL submitted a proposal to the National Council on natural gas issues. We proposed that after the solution of the Cyprus problem we should promise the start of discussions on trade cooperation and the possible construction of a pipeline with Turkey. Mr. Anastasiades agreed to this proposal back then. He even authorised me to discuss this proposal with Turkish Foreign Minister Mr. Davutoglu when I met him in January 2016. Mr. Davutoğlu’s reaction was very positive and he showed enormous interest.
After the Crans Montana conference, Mr. Anastasiades backed away from these positions because he decided to change course on the Cyprus problem. His agreement with these positions is recorded in the minutes of the National Council of July and September 2015.
Question: There are reservations and concerns that any acceptance of these proposed CBM’s would lead to a “Taiwanisation” of the Cyprus problem…
AK: These proposals are not new. They were put forward by various figures in Turkey when Demetris Christofias was still in the Presidency of the Republic. As AKEL we were saying that for the opening of the port and direct trade with the EU, Famagusta could be returned to its lawful inhabitants and the Turkish Cypriot mayor (there was always a Turkish Cypriot and a Greek Cypriot mayor) could, within his/her powers, proceed to direct trade with the EU through the port of Famagusta.
As far as the airport at Tympou (in the occupied areas) is concerned, this danger that you have mentioned does exist. If there is no single FIR, if there is no uniform operation of all the airports in Cyprus, under the central government, there is a serious possibility that it could be perceived that there are two separate entities in Cyprus. This would not only not assist the efforts to promote a solution, but on the contrary it would give a basis for the Turkish Cypriot community not to want to move towards a solution.
Question: The wider Turkish Cypriot Left welcomed the proposed Confidence Building Measures as a positive development, aspiring to the improvement of the economy of the illegal regime, in contrast to Tatar…
AK: I can understand why the Turkish Cypriot Left has this position – in the sense that they are suffocating under the pressure exerted by Turkey and the enormous economic difficulties they face. They believe that this would be a way out. As the Greek Cypriot side we have to provide alternative options that do not undermine the solution of the Cyprus problem and at the same time help them to overcome the huge economic difficulties they face.
As things stand right now, the surest option is the solution of the Cyprus problem.
If we can convince that we are sincere in our desire to talk seriously about reaching an agreement, I believe that Turkey will be cornered, that it will have no choice and that we can reach an agreement soon.
Question: Can you comment on M. Droushiotis’ reference (in the book “Crime at Crans-Montana”) that Mr. Anastasiades’ dependencies on Russia and its interests prevented a solution of the Cyprus problem?
AK: I disagree. I told him so in private. He has written a very important record of events and included very important documents in his book relating to the history of the Cyprus problem. On this particular issue, however, I disagree with him.
I have had the opportunity to meet Russian Foreign Minister Mr. Lavrov on a number of occasions. Mr. Lavrov was very clear: the Russian Federation supports the efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, but they will not accept NATO guarantees. He has since proposed guarantees from the UN Security Council. This is a position that we, as the Greek Cypriot side, have supported in the past and a position that AKEL maintains to this day.
Question: What’s your take on the Ukrainian crisis?
AK: The developments are extremely worrying. Unfortunately, instead of trying to resolve the issues in a diplomatic way, an attempt is being made to resolve them by means of war. There was the Minsk Agreement and that is where everyone should have been focusing on.
Question: And a brief comment on the forthcoming presidential elections… Will the opposition succeed in fulfilling its proclaimed goal of progressive change?
AK: If we are sincere in what we all say – that there needs to be a real change in the governance of the country, that we need to support society to overcome the current difficulties, that we need to give another perspective to the country by combatting corruption and entanglement/interwoven interests – then I think it is the obligation of all opposition parties, with the exception of far-right ELAM, which supports the ruling DISY party at all critical moments, to find a way to cooperate based on principles. I believe that intense efforts must be made in this direction.

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