Speech by the General Secretary of AKEL A. Kyprianou at the briefing of the foreign diplomatic missions in the Republic of Cyprus on the Cyprus problem
19th October 2017, Hilton, Nicosia
AKEL C.C. Press Office
On behalf of the Central Committee of AKEL, I welcome you all to this already customary meeting we have every year. We thank you for accepting our invitation and being with us here today. We consider that this ongoing contact we maintain on a regular basis gives us the opportunity to present our views on the Cyprus problem and other topical issues, as well as to share our views with you. We believe that by doing so we become wiser. We hope that you too find this meeting also useful.
It is true that Cyprus had the blessing of an excellent geopolitical position, which at the same time is its very curse. No one can overlook the fact that in our region acute geostrategic contradictions prevail which are intensifying daily. Nor can anyone at the same time overlook the fact that Turkey is part of the equation in most of these contradictions.
As AKEL we have for some time been reiterating our position that the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean can and must live better days. If Cyprus manages to solve its political problem, it can become a model country of peaceful coexistence. The region’s energy reserves will become a factor of peace, cooperation and growth for its peoples. To fulfill this goal, political will is required on the part of the involved parties and first and foremost by Turkey.
During the summer that has passed we witnessed a period of intensive procedures surrounding the Cyprus problem. All through this long negotiation procedure, as AKEL we backed the effort to reach a solution. We did so despite the fact we came and are still coming under fierce attacks. Nonetheless, we decided that we had to act in a patriotic, responsible and serious manner, even if this would have meant suffering whatever temporary political cost. We set as our priority the future and perspective of our country and people, as well as the future generations above anything else.
We remain steadfastly committed to the strategy and framework of the solution that has been agreed since 1977; to the framework of a solution that is included in all the decisions adopted by the UN and other international organizations; to the framework of the solution that was supported by all the successive Presidents of the Republic of Cyprus. By doing so we are fully aware of the difficulties we shall encounter in the efforts to achieve a solution. However, we consider that a possible abandonment of the agreed framework will not only make the solution harder, but will harm Cyprus.
We shall therefore continue to insist right to the end on the solution of the Cyprus problem; a solution that will end the occupation and colonialization and that will be based on the United Nations Resolutions, the High-Level Agreements, International and European Law; a solution that will demilitarize Cyprus and exclude interventions and guarantees from foreign powers; a solution that will reunite the land, people, institutions and the economy; a bi-communal, bizonal federal solution with political equality as described in United Nations texts; a solution that will lead to a united state and which will be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus, a state with a single sovereignty, a international personality and citizenship.
The procedure of the talks which began in 2008 between the former President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and the then leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat went through various phases. Through the intensive talks committed to the goal of the solution, we managed back then to record significant convergences primarily on three of the main chapters of the Cyprus problem (Governance, European Affairs and Economy). The dynamics of the talks were interrupted at that time because of the assumption of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community by Mr. Eroglu. The talks were intensified again when the current leaders, Anastasiades and Akinci, assumed the leadership of the two communities.
In the period that followed up to the meetings in Mont Peleran, progress was registered which was due to the utilization of the convergences that had been achieved between Christofias-Talat. It is true that expectations peaked with the meetings in Mont Peleran and unfortunately the disappointment was the same when these ended without reaching the desired result.
During the first meeting of the leaders there, it was agreed to devote a three-day discussion to the pending issues on the internal aspects, followed by a two-day discussion on the territorial issue. Furthermore, it was agreed that there should have been a range of convergence on territorial criteria before Maps are submitted. In the first three days, further progress had indeed been recorded on certain outstanding issues. Thus, the discussion on the territorial issue finally begun too. In the course of events, it became apparent that a range of convergence was reached on probably the most important criterion, namely the percentage of land to remain under Turkish Cypriot administration after the solution of the Cyprus problem (28.2% and 29.2% according to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot side respectively). It also became apparent that there was room for a convergence on the second criterion, namely the percentage of the coastline to be under the administration of the two communities.
There remained, however, a significant difference as regards the third criterion. That is, how many Greek Cypriots would the readjustment of territories potentially enable to return to their properties under Greek Cypriot administration. This third criterion is essentially also a territorial issue, since it focuses on areas that will be returned. Somewhere at this point the negotiations were interrupted, with an agreement to continue them again in one week in Mont Peleran.
The interruption of the procedure had negative consequences. The momentum was lost, and it was now clear that the prospects were not the best in view of what was to subsequently follow. As AKEL we did all we could for the effort to continue in order to keep the hope alive. We proposed to the two leaders that they should not insist on a range of convergence on the third criterion as well, but to submit and discuss Maps. Our views were not heeded. Mont Peleran 2 unfortunately also ended without any result.
Even after the disappointing turn developments took, AKEL insisted that the negotiations should be continued. Developments should have been assessed in their proper dimensions and we should have ascertained exactly what went wrong in Mont Peleran.
We expressed our position to the President that the negotiation should resume as soon as possible, without, of course, concessions on principles, but with realism. We expressed our concern about the dangers that a protracted stalemate would logically harbor, especially considering the threats issued by Turkey for the naturalization of a large number of settlers.
In the end, the negotiations continued after the decision taken by the two leaders at the working dinner on 1st December. Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Akinci agreed on a procedure on the way towards Geneva, which did not provide for getting within range of an agreement before the convening of the Conference.
It is well-known that as AKEL we backed the procedure despite our disagreement. We considered that given the fact that the procedure had been agreed it would be inappropriate and counterproductive to come out against` the holding of the Conference. It is also well-known that as AKEL we had pointed out that the procedure agreed, in our opinion, was not the appropriate one. We considered that if there isn’t a solution on the issues still pending on property, territory and Governance issues, whatever Conference would take place in the shadow of these disagreements. Despite this, once the President took his decisions, we did not oppose them because there was a danger of problems being provoked had we disagreed.
I want to make it clear yet again that AKEL’s position is always that all the chapters of the internal aspect of the Cyprus problem (Governance and the Power sharing, Economy, European Union, Property and Territorial issues) must first be agreed or, at least arrive within range of an agreement. Following that, a representative international conference should be convened, with the participation of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, with the goal of reaching an agreement on the chapter on Security and the Guarantees. On the other hand, the Turkish Cypriot side always had the following disagreement: that is, the territorial issue should be transferred for discussion at the final stage. Given that this is agreed, a five-party conference focusing exclusively on the chapter on security and guarantees should follow.
Our longstanding persistence regarding the stage at which the international aspects of the Cyprus problem should be discussed, and I mean after we have arrived at least within range of an agreement on all the internal aspects, was confirmed as correct by the very outcome of the Geneva Conference itself. Considerable disagreements remained with regards the internal aspects of the problem. Consequently, there were no objective conditions for this procedure to lead to a definitive conclusion.
Both during the talks in Cyprus, as well as during the negotiation of the outstanding issues of the internal aspect in Geneva, very little progress had been recorded. This led to the stage of the submission of Maps on the territorial issue by both sides. The Maps that were submitted correspond to the agreed criterion of the territorial issue percentage under the administration of each community but, as was expected, each side submitted the best Charter for itself. Therefore, there is still a distance with regards the other criteria. However, it is important that we will now have a discussion of the territorial issue on specific maps and not a general and vague discussion. Unfortunately, the Conference on Cyprus which followed, as we anticipated, did not even lead to the start of a substantive discussion on the chapter on Security and Guarantees. This disappointed the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who want a solution and who were expecting steps to be taken forward.
When, after all these difficulties and the other well-known negative developments on the domestic front, the continuation of the Crans Montana Conference was decided, the consensus was that there would be two tables there. One table for the conference in the presence of the guarantor powers and the European Union as an observer on the sole issue of security and guarantees. The other table would be for the intercommunal talks on the remaining core issues of the internal aspect. It was further agreed that the issues would be discussed in an interconnected way.
As AKEL since January we had called on the President to discuss, informally, the remaining core issues, to explore up to what point the Turkish side was willing to go and whether there was room for an understanding. The President of the Republic chose his own path. Before going to Crans Montana, at the meeting of the National Council, we had stressed the significance of the meeting. We had underlined that we had to go there focused on the goal of the solution; that we had to go sufficiently and thoroughly prepared to deal with the difficulties that would arise from the Turkish stand.
As AKEL we had assessed that the meeting in Crans Montana was the culmination of the procedure; we would either take steps towards the solution, or we would have a big setback.
Knowing this, we should have shown more determination, not by making concessions on principles, but by taking initiatives. Unfortunately, there from the first moment it transpired that one side was waiting for the other to take the first step. The arrival of the Secretary-General of the United Nations gave an impetus to the procedure. The framework the UNSG put before both sides highlighted the important remaining issues and constituted a good basis for a negotiation. Unfortunately, no substantive discussion took place after his departure. Mr. Anastasiades submitted a proposal on the internal aspect which the Turkish side did not respond to.
Mr. Guterres’ return to Crans Montana on July 6th was extremely important and it should have been viewed as such by everyone. It was obvious that the UN Secretary-General favored the abolition of the guarantees and intervention rights from the very beginning. The European Union, Britain and definitely Greece and Cyprus also favored their abolition. He pressingly raised the issue of the drastic reduction of the occupation troops with the achievement of an agreement. He also raised for discussion the issue of their full withdrawal, given that in the first two years they would have been reduced to 650 Turkish and 950 Greek soldiers.
The UN Secretary-General also insisted on the return of Morphou and other territories under the administration of the Greek Cypriots. At the same time, he put the issue of property, rotating Presidency, the effective participation of Turkish Cypriots in governance and the equal treatment of Turkish citizens up for discussion. Unfortunately, at the 6th July working dinner, it wasn’t possible for the Secretary-General’s thoughts to yield results. We held the strong belief there that Turkey should either be forced to accept the abolition of guarantees and rights of intervention or be exposed. Regrettably, neither the one, nor the other occurred. The developments in Crans Montana have disappointed us.
The day after finds us in a very difficult position. The possibility of a solution has faded. It seems that negotiations won’t resume soon.
At the same time, it is of utmost importance that the climate on the domestic front does not widen the gap between the two communities any further. This is pointed out by the UN Secretary-General in his Report.
Unfortunately, actions that are being taken by the Turkish side are consolidating the fait accompli and that will make the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem harder. The support given towards the Compensation Committee with the enrollment of staff and provision of financial resources aims to resolve the property issue on the ground by buying off as many Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied territories as possible.
The invitation extended to the Maronites to return to their villages would constitute a positive development if they were to be put under the administration of the UN. Regrettably, the demand put forth is that the Maronites should be put under the administration of the Turkish Cypriot community, from which they must take the so-called “citizenship” as well.
It is rumored that something similar is being pursued as regards the inhabitants of the enclosed city of Varosha too.
The decision to impose custom duties on foodstuffs sent to the enclaved persons (in the occupied areas) highlights the inhuman face and political considerations which guide the so-called “Government” in the occupied areas.
It is evident that this is being done to increase the tension and confrontation between the two communities with the evident aim of removing from the negotiating table the solution of Federation.
Our own position is that the Greek Cypriot side must not behave in a way that facilitates the fulfillment of the objective of the extremist elements within the Turkish Cypriot community. No matter how difficult it may sound, our own role is to build bridges of peace and communication, and not to demolish them.
We consider the fact that Mr. Akinci, the Turkish Republican Party, the Communal Democracy Party and others have reacted to this action as positive. This confirms the fact that not everyone has the same stand as regards the effort for a solution inside the Turkish Cypriot community.
At the same time, we reiterate our concern about the policies to assimilate the occupied territories which Turkey has been pursuing for decades now. The goal is the dependence of the Turkish Cypriot community on Ankara and the subjugation of the Turkish Cypriots through the policies being promoted in the occupied territories. Turkey is promoting the economic integration of the occupied areas through fundings in the construction and tourism sectors and not only these sectors. It is seeking a firm intervention in the occupied areas and is attempting to cultivate religion as a means of exercising greater control in society. It is self-evident that a small community like the Turkish Cypriot community is fighting like another David against Goliath.
On the other hand, due to the political and economic deadlocks, it seems that a peculiar form of Turkish-Cypriot nationalism, which distances itself from both Turkey and the Greek Cypriot community, seems to be developing in the Turkish Cypriot community. As long as the Cyprus problem is not solved, these voices will grow louder. Because of their reactionary character they will exacerbate the problem, rather than solve it.
The position of the progressive Turkish Cypriot forces, who are seeking a solution on the basis of the agreed framework, will be constantly grow weaker, while on the other hand the position of those circles and forces seeking separation will be grow stronger. I consider it unnecessary to reiterate that AKEL is continuously strengthening its contacts with the progressive Turkish Cypriots. We are strengthening the front of peace and reunification by undertaking joint initiatives and actions.
Neither the Greek Cypriots, nor the Turkish Cypriots will live in security on the land that gave birth to them unless the Cyprus problem is solved and Cyprus is reunited. No one can be certain of the future as long as the occupation continues; as long as there is a regime in Cyprus, which is uncontrollably arming itself, maintaining thousands of troops in our country, indiscriminately granting citizenships and colonizing our homeland since 1974 till now. The occupation therefore constitutes a permanent threat to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Only with a solution can Cyprus have a future. Only by reversing the fait accompli which the Turkish occupation created. The solution must be accepted by both communities and lead to a lasting and viable peace. It should create conditions of security and stability for our people as a whole. It must reunify the island on the basis of the agreed framework and create conditions for progress and growth; conditions of prosperity for all. That is and must remain the common goal of the struggle of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
A correct solution of the Cyprus problem, apart from the well-intentioned interests of the Cypriots themselves, also serves the interests of both Turkey and Greece, but also of the European Union itself.
The liberation and reunification of the island will be a success story for all: for our turbulent region, Europe and the international community because it will create peace, security, stability and economic development in our region after so many troubled decades, in a period characterized by wars and economic deprivation; because it will offer everyone the possibility of working together to commercially make use of the natural gas and promote the much-discussed energy security in our region. We believe that all of the above can keep the hope for a solution of the Cyprus problem alive. These are all what we must constantly highlight and project: the benefits from the solution.
For AKEL, what must be done is very clear, following the latest developments. The discussion must focus on the Guterres framework. It should focus on the positions for an immediate abolition of the Treaty of Guarantee, the intervention rights and the return of Morphou. It should also focus on the mechanism which the UN Secretary-General proposed for the implementation of the solution, with an exclusively consultative role for the guarantor powers. Finally, it is more correct to conduct the discussion of the six chapters in an interconnected way so that we have a strategic framework that will greatly facilitate the subsequent discussion of all the outstanding issues. As AKEL, we are ready to contribute towards this end.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that AKEL will not stop working for the solution of the Cyprus problem and reunification of Cyprus.
Our own vision is a reunited and federal Cyprus that will be a beacon and example for the whole world.
It will be a modern model of the harmonious coexistence of two communities of different nationality, language and religion who will be managing together their common state.
It will be a country that will have managed to get rid of the armies and that will be channeling all its forces and resources to social investments and economic development and growth.
We aspire to fulfill this vision in practice together with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots.
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