Time is running out…
Article by Stefanos Stefanou, General Secretary of the Central Committee of AKEL
Sunday 4 February 2024, “Haravgi” newspaper
The personal envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, arrived in Cyprus this week with expectations low. The deadlock and stagnation noted of recent years, and the adoption by the Turkish side of unacceptable positions for a two state solution, have created a climate of pessimism. Nevertheless, all this must not distract the Greek Cypriot side from fulfilling its strategic objective of resuming the negotiations and finding a solution on the basis of the agreed framework. It must demonstrate consistency and steadfastness with regards its objectives and have a specific plan for initiatives that must be taken with a view to creating momentum for a resumption of the talks.
How can we achieve this? AKEL has elaborated and sent a specific proposal to the President of the Republic, which contains four main chapters:
The first chapter deals with the need for the continued and consistent promotion of the agreed basis for a solution of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as outlined in the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations. This is necessary in order to remind everyone that this basis has been agreed between the two sides since 1977, and is included in numerous Resolutions of the UN and supported by the international community.
The second chapter concerns the tactics to be followed in order to achieve the resumption of negotiations. It is our conviction that we must insist on continuing the negotiations from the point where they were interrupted in 2017 at Crans Montana.
All the body of work that has been agreed in the negotiations and to be found in the convergences that have been recorded, as well as in the Guterres Framework on the basis of which the negotiations must be based on must be made use of.
The third chapter concerns the formulation of a positive agenda for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community. Its aim is to unlock incentives for Turkey to agree to the resumption of negotiations. The energy issues of the region and Cyprus’ natural gas must be at the heart of this agenda. We have also formulated a comprehensive proposal as to how to make use of energy issues without violating “red lines” of the Greek Cypriot community, which we have submitted to the National Council.
The fourth chapter concerns the implementation of specific measures of support for the Turkish Cypriot community on the part of the Republic of Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriots are our natural allies in the pursuit for a solution and the reunification of our country and hence we need to gain their trust. The government has proceeded, albeit belatedly, to announce measures which are a start, but which must be followed up.
AKEL will not tire of warning of the critical nature of the situation. The status quo is not a solution, it is a threat. The passage of time without a solution of the Cyprus problem works against the prospects for a solution. Turkey fully understands that time is working in favour of its ow designs, which is precisely why it exploits deadlocks to create new occupation fait accompli every time it has been handed the opportunity to do so. It has been doing this since 2017, when the Crans Montana conference collapsed.
The comprehensive proposal that AKEL has submitted to the President of the Republic creates an opportunity to test Turkish intentions. Its implementation will convince the international community that the Greek Cypriot side wants and means the solution of the Cyprus problem. That’s precisely when Turkey will be forced to reveal its true intentions and be subjected to an evaluation.
We cannot change geography. But we can change the terms of relations in our neighbourhood. The terms will change if the Cyprus problem is solved. It is then that the relations of the Federal Republic of Cyprus with Turkey will be normalised and new areas of cooperation will develop, replacing those of confrontation and tension.
Fifty years after the twin crimes that were committed in 1974 [Note: the fascist coup and subsequent Turkish invasion], time is running out. Generations change, people’s thoughts are altered, time erodes.
It is imperative that we reach a solution that will create the conditions for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to take their fate into their own hands and to decide their future together within the framework of a common bicommunal state. A future of peace, security, cooperation and prosperity.
Time is running out…