Militarization on either side gradually leads to partition
Excerpts from an interview with the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL A.Kyprianou to HARAVGI newspaper
Sunday 29th December 2019
Despite the measures and sanctions, Turkey’s provocative actions and aggression is continuing and intensifying. The latest example is the agreement with Libya. What should be done?
AK: Turkey’s actions are provocative, illegal and unacceptable and must undoubtedly be denounced. The most effective way to address them must be found. While we did not disagree with the effort to impose sanctions, we have said that in AKEL’s view the most effective way is to create the preconditions for the resumption of substantive negotiations on the Cyprus problem.
Why does Turkey behave the way it does? What Turkey is primarily interested in is energy. It considers that an attempt is underway to exclude it from cooperations being forged in the wider region and is reacting by trying to say that nothing can be done if Turkey is not involved…This approach tries to cover up its policy with arguments that are “appealing” to the international community. Turkey says that it is in Cyprus to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots and that the Greek Cypriots don’t want a solution that would give to the Turkish Cypriots the right to participate in decision-making…This has resulted – let’s face it – in Turkey convincing a section of the international community. We can see this also with regards both the stance of the United Nations, but also of the EU itself. It isn’t by chance that certain decisions were taken, but were not implemented in practice.
So yes, we are extremely worried. We believe that both Greece and Cyprus have an obligation to act in a way that reduces tension in the wider region.
There is another concern. The US national strategy on security issues in the eastern Mediterranean has recently been approved. It essentially converts Israel, Greece and Cyprus into countries that will protect US interests in the region.
Is the word protectorate excessive?
AK: No, far from it. The word reflects the reality. In our view, all those who believe that this is the way for the Republic of Cyprus to become stronger will be disillusioned. It has been proven in practice that the Republic of Cyprus isn’t strengthened by pursuing this policy. On the contrary, enormous problems will be provoked in our relations with friendly countries, such as Russia and China; countries which have always been supporting us on the Cyprus problem. Let me remind you that the removal of any Russian or Chinese interests from Cyprus was included as a precondition in the US Menendez-Rubio bill.
As a result, the situation is developing very negatively and Turkey’s aggression must be tackled. The measures approved so far anything but prove that these aggressive actions are being addressed.
We are once again insisting that the only effective way to do that is to resume negotiations. Furthermore, this effort must be sincere and not some tactical maneuvering that serves communication purposes and games.
However, at this precise moment right up to the so-called elections in the occupied areas there is a negotiating gap. What can be done in the interim?
AK: Let us make it clear that the fact that any discussions are being referred to after the “elections” in the occupied territories is the Turkish side’s responsibility.
The UN Secretary-General in his statement in Berlin referred to three important things that must be observed. The first is that the aim of the solution is a Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation. The second is that the basis for the negotiations is the Framework of the Secretary General of the UN of 30th June, the convergences agreed to date and the February 2014 agreement. The third – and extremely important – is the appeal he addresses to the two leaders to work constructively all through this time. On the one hand to prepare the public for the need to reach an agreement and on the other to inform it of the provisions of this agreement being sought, because there is a great deal of distortion about what is being discussed. This distortion seeks to scare the people so that any agreement will not be accepted. Both leaders need to work in the direction that the UN Secretary General has shown them.
I get the impression that everything related to the talks has been suspended and this whole period will be “barren” as far as the Cyprus problem is concerned.
AK: This is our great concern. The UN Secretary General has pointed out to them what they must do and what their obligation is. If they do not, it means that they don’t have the political will to move things forward.
In a recent interview he gave to the Greek newspaper Vima the Turkish Foreign Minister Mr. Cavusoglou spoke about the need to adopt the Turkish side’s positions for a rotating presidency, political equality, one positive vote…Do these constitute prerequisites for the resumption of talks?
AK: These are all included in the Framework of the UN Secretary General. In our view these issues must be discussed. AKEL has accepted political equality since November 1992 when it was included in the UN Secretary General’s Report. The other political parties disagreed, but subsequently agreed to it – with political equality, not numerical equality. Political equality means effective participation, not in the way it is being interpreted by Turkey, but as interpreted by the UN Secretary-General himself in his Framework.
Therefore, we must insist on these. As for the rotating presidency, the UN Secretary General says that in his view it should be discussed. If this is what Turkey wants, then let’s go to the negotiations to discuss and find the right arrangements.
Are you optimistic after the statement issued at the Berlin trilateral meeting regarding the prospect of a solution to the Cyprus problem?
AK: The Berlin statement puts things in their correct dimension. A 100 statements like the Berlin statement won’t solve the problem if there is no political will demonstrated by all the involved parties, first and foremost by Turkey and by Anastasiades and Akinci. There needs to be political will demonstrated, and we expect Turkey, Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Akinci to demonstrate that will.
Don’t you see a clash with the goal for the demilitarization of Cyprus with the solution, given that actions are being taken to “militarize” the occupied, but also the free areas (referring to the holding of joint military exercises, the question of PESCO, the issue over a naval base, etc.)?
AK: The position of the National Council (Note: a long-standing advisory body to the President on the Cyprus problem which includes all the parliamentary parties) until recently was that with the solution of the Cyprus problem, Cyprus must be demilitarized. This remains AKEL’s position. It is not the position of the other political parties and Mr. Anastasiades. They have variations in their positions on this issue. Until the Cyprus problem is resolved, the Republic of Cyprus is forced to enhance its defense capabilities against any possible attack. This does not in no way mean that we should be conveying the message of the militarization of the areas under the control of the Republic as well. The militarization of the occupied territories that is being attempted by Turkey if it is followed by militarization in the free areas, then I am very afraid that it will lead to undesirable situations.
Because many forces and circles might ask “If Turkey does it, why can’t we?” I will answer that Turkey does it because it has one goal: It does not want a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution. Turkey wants to impose its own point of view. What goal are we aiming for? We have to make this absolutely clear. If we really want a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution, we must not follow Turkey in actions that generate tension. Our approach must precisely be how the tension is deescalated and diffused in order to solve the Cyprus problem.
If militarization on either side is ongoing, things will get much worse and we will gradually be led to partition.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
- Feb26 2015-02-26
- Nov13 2014-11-13