Interview with AKEL Political Bureau member Giorgos Loukaides:

Sunday 22 October 2023, “Haravgi” newspaper

“That the status quo can become deadly dangerous is a reminder for the Cyprus problem too”

“Haravgi”: Does the situation in the Middle East affect the Cyprus problem too and if so, in what way? Is it a lesson on how to proceed towards a solution?

GIORGOS LOUKAIDES: Another issue of grave importance for the international community is added, as we see the war in Ukraine being almost overshadowed. Based on developments in the Middle East, the Cyprus problem is being downgraded in terms of the priorities of the international community and we have no positive examples to draw from.

However, we must consider that such a “frozen conflict” can turn into a “hot” one, and recent events, most notably the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, show us this. For almost three decades the conflict was “dormant” and in 2020 it flared up, with the consequences we saw last month.

We need to bear in mind the messages that are clearly visible that the current status quo is not only unsustainable, but also very dangerous.

We as AKEL send out this message constantly, that as long as this pending issue remains, we will be facing a mortal threat for our country. Every day that passes by we are in danger and it is not a theoretical figure if we consider that there are many similarities with the Palestinian situation.

We need to draw the lessons, given that small and frail peoples who have international law as their pillar of support and compass must deal with issues with consistency, far from any double standards.

“Haravgi”: How important is the appointment of a special envoy, with an eye on the resumption of negotiations?

GL: As I mentioned before, everyone’s eyes are on the Middle East, however the appointment of a special envoy is urgent for us. We want a continuation of the negotiating procedure as soon as possible. I repeat that it is urgent, and a solution to the Cyprus problem can only be achieved through the resumption of the negotiations, and for this step to be taken, it must be preceded by another small step, provided that the sides demonstrate the appropriate political will. The appointment of a special envoy will be a first, necessary step in the right direction that will enable us to build on the prospect of the resumption of the procedure.

“Haravgi”: Is the agreement on Pyla a positive development in the broader context? How do you comment on it?

GL: I take it self-evident and things are simple: from an issue that has provoked tension between the two communities with the well-known incidents that have taken place, we are moving towards a positive outcome.

The agreement reached on Pyla achieves the main objective, namely to restore the status of the buffer zone in the area, which was violently challenged by the occupying forces last August. The challenge, of course, is then to implement and respect in practice what has been agreed.

The vicious circle of tension with the imposition of fait accompli, whether in Pyla or Famagusta, or in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, undermines the prospects for a solution of the Cyprus problem.

Obviously, reaching an agreement and working together around issues of common interest, such as Confidence Building Measures and other actions, is moving in the right direction and creating a more positive environment in our efforts for a resumption of the negotiations. As AKEL we welcomed and welcome the agreement.

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