Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides (pictured) expressed his optimism about the prospect of the resumed talks between the two communities in Cyprus, aiming at reaching a lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue.
In his interview with LGR, the Foreign Minister dismissed suggestions that the British and the Americans have been exercising pressure on Cyprus to adopt a tight timetable with regard to the settlement talks. “No attempt to put pressure as far as the duration (of the talks) would be productive or helpful and no one has mentioned anything about time,” remarked Kasoulides, stressing that it is “the quality and not the duration of the negotiating process that comes first.”
Asked to comment on the Turkish Cypriot negotiator Ozdil Nami’s statement that he aims for an agreement by the end of the year and on suggestions of a possible double referendum in the spring of 2016, Ioannis Kasoulides commented “why not”, wishing for sufficient progress in the resumed talks. But he repeated that the quality of the solution should not be disregarded in favour of speed.
He added that he strongly believes the European Union will get engaged in the negotiations once they have entered a “serious course”. This engagement would not entail any changes in the UN framework of the process, but would consist of advice and guidance in order for the content of any settlement to be compatible with the European acquis and workable within the EU. He also refuted suggestions that Britain has reacted negatively in any prospect of EU involvement in the final phases of the negotiations.
Commenting on the source of his optimism, he pointed to the reasons of Akinci’s ‘election’ by the Turkish Cypriots: “These reasons send a strong message. Apart from their wish for a resolution to the Cyprus issue, their main message is that they do not wish to be absorbed by Turkey; they want a Cypriot future. This is the message our community needs to comprehend and react accordingly.”
Kasoulides was also asked by LGR to comment on the “weak” reaction by the UK to the incursion by the Turkish vessel Barbaros into the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus, which led to the suspension of the talks. “If the countries that had this weak reaction, the British included, gave Turkey the impression that she gained something from such action, then it amounts to nothing else than an encouragement for Turkey to repeat it. But they should know that if Turkey repeats it, then every effort to get into a smooth process of settlement in Cyprus will sink. I hope they are acting pre-emptively and explaining to Turkey that if she attempts anything similar this time she will have to face severe consequences with them.”