Address by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL A.Kyprianou to the online Conference organised by the ‘Left Wing’ on the Cyprus problem
29th May 2020
Allow me to congratulate you for organising this Conference and I thank you very much for inviting me to address it.
Initiatives like yours are important. The solution or non-solution of the Cyprus problem is an issue that has to do with our survival on the land that gave birth to us. We need to think about how we are able to reunite our homeland and people in conditions of security and peace.
The coronavirus pandemic has inevitably also affected any efforts to resume the negotiation procedure on the Cyprus problem. Of course, in a pandemic situation, the primary task was to protect the health of citizens and to confront the immediate chain effects. In addition, the postponement of the voting process for the assumption of the new leader of the Turkish Cypriot community leaves no realistic possibility for substantive developments before October.
The unprecedented situation we are facing has proved in the most dramatic way the pressing need for cooperation between the two communities with the principal goal of solving our political problem. We are now gradually returning to normal pace of life and we hope that the pandemic will soon belong to the past. October is not far away and the lost time must be covered.
Despite the enormous difficulties caused by the pandemic, AKEL tried to assist the effort for cooperation between the two communities aiming at coming out of the crisis as painlessly as possible. The closure of the checkpoints had provoked and continues to provoke many humanitarian problems. In the first stage, the problem Turkish Cypriot workers and students are facing must be solved as soon as possible, so that they can return to work and school. As the restrictive measures have been relaxed, it is necessary that we see how all the checkpoints are reopened, with the simultaneous implementation of the necessary health checks so that no one’s health is put in danger. The announcement of the two leaders for an opening on June 8 is positive, but not enough. All the checkpoints need to open.
At the same time, we must make the most of the little time we have before us to prepare so that the negotiation procedure can resume with a realistic prospect of arriving at a speedy successful outcome. In today’s gloomy situation, what I am saying may sound like wishful thinking, but we have a historical responsibility to exhaust every possibility offered to prevent the final partition that is now knocking on our door more threateningly than ever.
As the Secretary General of the United Nations is tirelessly calling for in each of his reports, the two leaders must be the first to set the example and start cultivating a culture for a solution and peaceful coexistence. They should explain to the people the enormous benefits of the solution and terminate the well-known pretentious blame game that only succeeds in sowing fear and suspicion and poisoning people’s minds.
The UN Secretary General calls for the talks to continue from where they had remained at Crans Montana with the 2014 Joint Declaration, the convergences recorded so far and the Guterres Framework. One might reasonably wonder, why three whole years after the collapse at Crans Montana, hasn’t it been possible to resume the negotiation procedure, while we also allowed the pandemic to catch up with us, with the result that everything now depends on the outcome of the vote in the occupied territories? The answer is simple: The verbal acceptance of Mr. Guterres’ appeals by the two leaders is not enough. On the one hand, it is not enough to declare that we are ready to continue where we had remained, and on the other hand, to submit “new” ideas that undo convergences and provoke reactions from the other side.
It is imperative, therefore, that when we declare that we are ready to continue where we left off, we must really mean it. If we all mean it, including Turkey too, then the negotiation procedure will resume, with the prospect of a successful conclusion this time. This is so because we got very close (to a successful conclusion) at Crans Montana, as the UN Secretary General himself correctly pointed out.
Of course, two burning questions remain: What will happen if the forces that want a final partition prevail in the Turkish Cypriot community in October? What will Turkey itself do if and when the negotiation procedure resumes? Will Turkey really accept that we continue where we had remained, which, among other things, means the abolition of the Treaty of Alliance and any intervention rights, as well as the speedy withdrawal of all occupying troops? We are not able to answer these torturous questions right now. However, we are certainly in a position to accept in practice the continuation of the talks from where they had remained and to start preparing the people for the prospect of a solution from now on. The rest doesn’t depend on us. If the next Turkish Cypriot leader will promote the final partition or if Turkey deceives, then at least everyone will know who is responsible. At least we will get rid of the accusation that it is not Turkey’s fault but ours. This is not theoretical at all, it has to do with all that will follow.
The moment of truth is approaching. There are two options before us. Either we move forward with determination, seeking a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution with the lifting of the occupation, or we continue on the alienating path pursued over the last three years with the inevitable result of the final partition. Everyone, and especially the President of the Republic himself, must realize the criticality of the moment, otherwise the historical responsibilities will be very grave.
Congratulations once again to the organizers for their initiative.
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