Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has underlined that the Cyprus negotiations have not collapsed, noting that recent developments are just a bump on the road that has been very successful so far.
The Minister made the above statement responding to questions by MPs in the framework of the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that takes place in Nicosia, on the occasion of Cyprus` Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, between November 2016 – May 2017.
The questions mainly focused on the Cyprus issue, with the PACE MPs asking about the latest UN-led intensive round of peace talks, focusing on territory, between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, which ended inconclusively this week in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland. The talks aim at reuiniting Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. President Anastasiades has vowed to continue working hard to find a solution.
Replying to the questions, the Minister outlined the reasons of the failure of the two sides to conclude their discussions in Mont Pelerin, noting that if there are internal chapters remaining, it is a bad tactic to move them on to the multilateral conference, because this negates the position that all internal chapters are Cypriot led and of Cypriot ownership.
“So, moving them along with the security issue, which is an external chapter, to the multilateral conference is something that the Turkish side wishes and we do not”, he pointed out.
The Minister said that therefore no date was given for the last and final mile, which would be a multilateral conference between the two communities and at least the three guarantors as stakeholders.
“This is a bump on a road that has been so successful so far. The negotiations have not collapsed”, he underlined, expressing belief that this will be corrected in the coming weeks, since none of the sides contemplates the end of the negotiation.
Kasoulides said that the difficulties that appear have to do with connecting the multilateral conference with the territorial issue, for a give and take phase.
This is wrong, he said, explaining that Cypriots must agree among themselves about all the internal subjects and “then we will deal with the international conference regarding the fate of the security”.
He pointed out that when we talk about security, then both sides have to feel equally secure.
Continuing the unilateral right of intervention of Turkey, which Turkey interprets as military intervention for the future, means that the Turkish Cypriots will feel 100% secure but the Greek Cypriots will feel 100% insecure.
“Both sides must be prepared for a compromise. Our side is prepared to accept a certain period of time at the end of which Cyprus will be totally independent and sovereign and I think on this we can negotiate and have a compromise”, he went on to say.
Asked about the role of the guarantor powers, he said that Turkey at the moment insists on maintaining the treaty of guarantees, which was interpreted by Turkey as meaning right of unilateral military intervention under which and according to them they invaded in Cyprus not to restore the constitutional order, not to maintain the unity and territorial integrity of Cyprus, but they stayed for the last 40 years and “I hope that this time when we will agree they will withdraw”.
He added that Greece is not any longer interested in being a guarantor power, while the UK position is that they will only respond to the requests of both sides and then they will consider ending their participation in a treaty of guarantee for the future.
“One of the role of the guarantors in sitting at the multilateral conference for discussing the chapter of security is to decide about the future of this treaty of guarantee that only one of the participants wishes to continue”, he stressed.
Asked about NATO, the Minister pointed out that when Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was elected the task of this government was its request to join the NATO program, Partnership of Peace, but Turkey disagreed and “kept us the door shut considering NATO”.
The Minister was also asked about Brexit and US elections outcome. Noting that we have to respect the vote of the people, Kasoulides pointed out the need to remain truthful to our values and principles.He also noted the importance of the Convention of Human Rights of CoE and its guardian which is the European Court of Human Rights. Asked about the huge refugee flows in Greece and Italy, he said that solidarity among the European states is needed.