Speech by the former General Secretary of the Central Committee of AKEL Andros Kyprianou at a meeting of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) on the subject:


Monday 22 April 2024

I thank the Republican Turkish Party for inviting me to participate in this debate, which I hope will be useful and interesting for the audience.

It is without undoubtedly useful to study the history of one’s Country as long as your goal is to draw the necessary lessons to plan for the future in a better way. In our case, however, I think it is much more useful and important to analyse in an objective way the given situation that exists and discuss how we can realise our goals.

I would like to make it clear from the very outset that my goal, the goal of AKEL, the Party in which I was raised and had the honor of reaching its highest post, is the solution of the Cyprus problem based on a Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation, with political equality, as defined in the relevant Resolutions of the UN. A solution leading to a united State with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality. These are the references contained in the two joint communiqués issued by Christofias and Talat in 2008.

We insist that the ultimate goal is the speedy demilitarization of the island and the abolition of any guarantees. That the union of all or part of Cyprus with any other state and any form of partition or secession will be explicitly prohibited.

By bi-zonal we mean that there will be two entities and each of them will be under the administration of the respective community. Their powers and responsibilities in the geographical area they shall govern will be exactly the same.

By bi-communal we mean that both communities will participate effectively in the institutions and decisions of the central authority.

What we are interested in when we discuss reaching a solution is that it should lead to the reunification of our common homeland in a way that corresponds to what I have said previously. We are interested in creating conditions of peace and security that will enable Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins to look to the future with optimism. To look forward to prosperity and progress for all.

It is a fact that the modern history of Cyprus has been turbulent and has gone through a thousand and one waves. Furthermore, the relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have gone through various phases. It is worth saying that relations between them have also depended to a large extent on the ideological and political approach of the people, although this has not always been absolute. There were people in both communities who lived in harmony. Together at work, in struggle, in both their joys and grief. But there were also those, in both communities, who were driven by bigotry and hatred.

People who remained and still remain glued to the past and consider it impossible that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live together in harmony. Or who would be ready to live together so long as they could impose themselves from a position of strength on the other community.

In modern history there have been various historical moments and events that have strained relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The turning point that changed everything completely and provoked enormous problems was that horrific summer of July 1974. The treacherous coup d’état of the Greek Junta and EOKA B and the subsequent brutal Turkish army invasion. The occupation, the deaths, the missing persons, the displacement and turning of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots into refugees and the violent separation of the two communities violated international law and generated feelings of insecurity and a lack of trust between the two communities. The passage of time and the development of facts on the ground have further aggravated the situation and made the solution of the problem more difficult.

Since then, numerous attempts have been made to resolve the Cyprus problem. The most important ones were those of 2004, which led to the holding of separate referenda in the two communities and in 2017 at Crans Montana.

The Annan Plan was submitted, in its 1st version, in November 2002. It was initially negotiated by G. Clerides and R. Denktash, then T. Papadopoulos and R. Denktash, while M.A. Talat participated in the final stage of the discussions.

I do not consider it is useful to go into detail about what happened in the negotiations at that time. The only thing I will achieve by doing so is to reopen wounds and stir up feelings in both communities. I repeat, what matters most to me is that those of us who love Cyprus and peace should see how we work together to break the deadlock and resume meaningful talks aimed at finding a solution within the agreed framework. I will just briefly say that, unfortunately, the final plan included provisions such as on guarantees, the stationing of troops for the long-term and other provisions that made it incredibly difficult for AKEL to support it.

AKEL engaged in a profound reflection about which position it would subsequently support in the referendum. I believe that the attitude of any responsible and right-thinking person or party should have been similar. The decision would determine the fate of the country and our people in the years to come.

On the one hand was our deep-rooted commitment and desire for a solution to the Cyprus problem and the reunification of our country and people, our relations with the Turkish Cypriot community and especially the progressive section of it, which took to the streets demonstrating in favour of the solution, and on the other hand the unacceptable provisions and weaknesses of the Plan and our concern for the future of Cyprus and our people.

Turkey’s intransigent positions bear responsibility for the unacceptable provisions in the Plan that could not be accepted by the Greek Cypriots. Unfortunately, however, neither did T.Papadopoulos show determination and perseverance in the negotiations to achieve the best possible outcome.

As D. Christofias writes in his book “How Necessity Becomes History”, he himself called pressingly for Papadopoulos, in Bürgenstock, to present our demands to the United Nations, on the core aspects of the Cyprus problem, in order to satisfy them and enable us to accept the Plan. Unfortunately he could not be persuaded to do so and as a result he delivered a long document that could not be accepted. It is obvious, D.Christofias writes in his book, that other thoughts had prevailed in his mind.

In his speech, in a dramatic tone, Papadopoulos called on the Greek Cypriots to reject the Annan Plan. AKEL, analysing all the facts in a comprehensive manner, requested from the United Nations to postpone the referenda, to proceed to make few and substantive changes to the Plan on the issues regarding security and of course concerning the implementation of the agreement, so that the gaps that existed could be filled and for time to be given so that we could convince the Greek Cypriots to vote in favour of the Plan. Unfortunately, the fact that the Republic of Cyprus was due to join the European Union on 1 May 2004 did not permit for a postponement of the referenda.

The results are well known. The Turkish Cypriot community voted in favour of the Plan, while the Greek Cypriot community rejected it.

Unfortunately, despite all the efforts made subsequently and up to the present day, we have not been able to reach an agreement. We can discuss for hours what happened at each stage. Such a discussion, in my view, would be unproductive and ineffective. It would not lead to a solution. What would be more useful and productive, in my view, would be to reflect together on what needs to be done in order to move towards the resumption of substantive negotiations on the basis of the agreed framework.

This will be no easy task at all. The repeated failures in the talks, the collapse at Crans Montana and the prolonged deadlock that subsequently followed have created a very negative situation. The effort for the resumption of the talks will be extremely difficult.
What, in my view, needs to be done?

The biggest obstacle to the resumption of negotiations is the unacceptable demand put forward by Turkey and the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community for a two state solution. This will never be accepted by the Greek Cypriot and international community. The first thing that needs to be done is that they should abandon these positions. Following that, if this shift is indeed made, they will have to comply with the agreed framework.

We cannot discuss a solution for a Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Resolutions of the UN, and at the same time submit proposals that refer to a confederation or two separate states. Just as it is inconceivable to be discussing about federation, and this refers to the Greek Cypriots, and submit proposals that lead to a unitary state.

Is it possible for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to move from these unacceptable positions without any incentive? In my opinion, no. Such incentives need to be elaborated in order to convince them that it will be to their advantage to change their stance. These incentives must be given both to Turkey and to the Turkish Cypriot community.

What are the issues of interest to Turkey? I think the issues relating to energy and its participation in the broader plans for the region and the special relationship it wants to have with the European Union.

What are the issues of concern to the Turkish Cypriot community? Security, economic stability, the ability to take decisions in their geographical area, to participate effectively in decision-making by the central government, including issues relating to Natural Gas, and unhindered access to the EU and the outside world in general.

These to a large extent are also the issues of concern to Greek Cypriots. These and possibly other issues must be addressed in the talks, in an open and positive spirit, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both communities.

How could convincing answers be provided to all these issues for any hope to exist of overcoming the obstacles, creating common ground and resuming meaningful talks within the agreed framework?

AKEL submitted its proposal to N. Anastasiades since December 2020 and repeated it to N. Christodoulides after his election. I will outline it here too, making it clear that we do not claim to be faultless. We are ready to listen to other views that will enrich, change and improve it.

AKEL’s proposal says that the talks should continue from where they had remained at Crans Montana, on the basis of the Framework of the UN Secretary General. This alone, however, is not enough. The two sides should commit that, if negotiations do resume, they should submit bridging proposals with a view to reaching an agreement on the Gutiérrez framework. This time they should pledge that they will go all the way, provided that all parties work together on the agreed basis of the Gutiérrez framework and the body of work that has been achieved so far.

The Greek Cypriot side should commit that, if an agreement is reached within the framework of the Secretary General of the UN, it will include the relevant Turkish Cypriots in the competent Committee that handles the Hydrocarbons issues.

If the Cyprus problem is resolved and relations between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey are normalised, then it should commit to the following:

1. A dialogue with Turkey on the possibility of supplying Turkey with natural gas should begin. Whatever decisions will be taken solely on economic criteria.

2. A dialogue with Turkey should commence on the issue of the construction of a pipeline to transport Natural Gas from Cyprus to the EU and other possible destinations. Security and economic considerations will be taken into account in taking the relevant decision.

I am not suggesting that this proposal will overcome the obstacles and make it possible for talks to begin. I hope that the effort to improve relations between Greece and Turkey will contribute in this direction.

For there to be a greater chance of success, those of us who love Cyprus, those of us who love peace, must work together to convince the leaders of the two communities, to convince Greece and especially Turkey and the international community to help us. Otherwise, I am afraid, the situation will unfortunately slide towards permanent partition.

We should not consider partition to be the end of the road for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. On the contrary, it will be the beginning of new sufferings.

Leave a Reply