Extracts from the interview with Stavri Kalopsidiotou, member of the Cyprus Problem Office of AKEL, International Law expert and member of the Central Committee of AKEL
Sunday 24 March Politis newspaper
On developments surrounding the Cyprus problem and the prospects for the resumption of negotiations
QUESTION: Do you expect any developments on the Cyprus problem?
SK: We certainly need positive developments. It would be quite premature and risky to attempt any predictions at this stage. The appointment of the UN Secretary General’s personal envoy on Cyprus already represents a step forward, considering that we are going through the longest negotiating deadlock in the history of the Cyprus problem. The search for the prospect of a resumption of the negotiations on the initiative of the UN Secretary General A.Guterres himself, who knows exactly what was negotiated up to the end of the 2017 Conference, is of great importance, whilst acknowledging at the same time the difficulties that do exist.
Turkey’s intransigent stance, the shift noted in its official position towards a two state solution, dangerously undermines the prospect of bringing the Cyprus problem back on the track of negotiations and a solution within the agreed framework.
But there are also circumstances that, under certain preconditions, can push Turkey to change its stance, as it has done in the past. And they must be made use of in a creative way.
QUESTION: Does Turkey have reasons to return to the negotiating table for a solution on the basis of Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation?
SK: It may appear that Turkey doesn’t, given its outright refusal for a solution within the agreed framework, coupled with the simultaneous consolidation of the partitionist fait accompli in a systematic and methodical manner, as well as its extremely provocative and illegal actions.
However, if we consider with absolute clarity at the stance taken by Mr.Anastasiades since 2017, from the questioning of the Guterres Framework to the undermining of political equality and effective participation, we will identify what is the alibi the Turkish side invokes.
For Turkey to stop insisting on a two state solution virtually unhindered, or attempting to convince the international community that the resumption of negotiations depends on the acceptance of the ‘sovereign equality’ and equal international status of the two communities, then convincing commitments to the convergences recorded so far and initiatives that create real incentives must be taken.
QUESTION: Is the Greek Cypriot side convincing with regards its intentions in relation to the Cyprus problem?
SK: If you are asking me whether Mr. Christodoulides has managed to restore the Greek Cypriot side’s credibility, permit me to hold a small basket. On the one hand, because he was at the forefront together with Mr. Anastasiades during crucial moments on the Cyprus problem and, on the other hand, because in the time that has passed since he took over the government of the country, there have been occasions when his rhetoric has not been very clear.
Preserving the body of work achieved
QUESTION: Has the Cyprus problem changed since Crans Montana and what has it left the Greek Cypriot side with?
SK: Undoubtedly, the legacy of Crans-Montana must be preserved. Namely, the convergences that have been recorded so far, the Guterres Framework and, we hope, the proposal for the mechanism for the implementation of the solution. As long as they are combined, precisely as the UN Secretary General himself understands them, they point to a clear direction as regards the important aspects of the Cyprus problem and lay the foundations for negotiating only those issues that are pending. Such as effective participation in low-level political bodies of the central state, the conclusion of the criteria on property and what will happen to the military contingents of ELDYK and TOURDYK.
Is there perhaps any other more powerful and available bulwark against the Turkish position for a two state solution than the position of the UN Secretary General himself on the importance of the body of work that has been agreed in the negotiation procedure?
We hope that his questioning by parties participating in the coalition government will not negatively determine Mr. Christodoulides’ final position. Because such a development, if it does not negatively affect the prospect of the resumption of negotiations, will ultimately undermine a number of delicate balances and lead to the overall questioning of the convergences by the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides. Something that unquestionably does not favour anyone who genuinely aspires to the liberation and reunification of Cyprus.
Let me recall that on the issues regarding the Treaty of Guarantee and the withdrawal of the occupying troops, the UN Secretary General’s statements reflect the Greek Cypriot side’s long standing demands. And of course, no one can predict where an uncertain and dangerous undertaking such as an “out-of-the-box” negotiation will lead to.
QUESTION: How ready are the Greek Cypriots (politicians and people) for a solution to the Cyprus problem and the changes that a solution will bring?
SK: We currently have a local government Reform that has to be implemented and some people are fighting over chairs and ‘kingdoms’ because they have to share their power with others. What is more, the logic of federation, which presupposes real political equality and power sharing, is anathema to a significant section of the political system. And they convey this message to society.
It is precisely for this reason that we insist on the cultivation of a culture of peace and reconciliation whilst at the same time rejecting the dangerous narrative that suggests “its better if we were resign ourselves to half of Cyprus but Greek”.

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