The EU should play a key role in the UN framework for a just solution to the Cyprus problem, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said after the summit in Brussels.
Speaking to the press and referring to position he expressed during the deliberations at the Council, he said that in consultation with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, he told the EU 27 leaders that the forthcoming Conference on Cyprus to be held in Switzerland could lay the foundations for a just solution to the Cyprus problem, only If progress on the issue of security and guarantees is achieved.
He explained that Greece will make every effort to achieve progress on this chapter, stressing that “we have never had more allies on the Cyprus issue.”
The prime minister made it clear in his speech that “the EU itself and not Cyprus is being tested in these negotiations” and made it also clear that the EU must support the just request by Greece and Cyprus for the abolition of the anachronistic status of security and guarantees, followed by the withdrawal of Turkish troops.
Alexis Tsipras stressed in his speech, that the Cyprus issue is a major European issue and concerns security in the wider region and the very security of Europe. EU co-operation with the UN is crucial to finding a solution, he noted.
The prime minister clarified that Turkey`s European course is passing through the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Responding to a question, he noted that he can not be either optimistic or pessimistic about the process of negotiations in Switzerland. But he said he views recent developments with determination and realism, considering that steps should be taken forward.
He reiterated that the Cyprus problem is predominantly European rather than Greek-Turkish. He said that the timing is not the best, but “you can not choose the conjuncture, but you can choose a methodology that for us is international law, tools and allies”.
“In friendly co-operation,” he said, “with the Cypriot President, we try to intensify the positive elements and mitigate negative”. In the positive elements, he included the fact that two leaders want the solution.
Alexis Tsipras explained that Europe would be directly affected by the outcome of the talks and no one in the EU wants a leader to be held hostage because of the presence of occupying troops or the potential intervention of a third country (guarantees).
“There will be consequences if we do not,” said Alexis Tsipras.
Replying to a question by the CNA about the positions expressed by his EU counterparts, the Prime Minister noted that “there was a complete understanding of the Cypriot positions on the anachronistic framework of the guarantees and the presence of the occupying army.”
“We have never had more allies,” the Prime Minister said. He stressed that the negotiation is within the framework of the United Nations, but the Member States have a separate position and knowledge.
Finally, in relation to the draft text of UN Secretary General special envoy Espen Barth Eide, Alexis Tsipras said that “we had the opportunity to talk wit the President of the Republic for a long time”.
“I will not make judgments on issues that are open to the table,” he stressed. “The Greek side will not accept backtracking or reacting hurriedly,” he said, adding that “we should not be worried that some moves can create breaches in our negotiating line.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.
The UN Conference on Cyprus will reconvene in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, on June 28 at the political level, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The Conference will take place with the participation of President Anastasiades and Akinci, as well as Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom as guarantor powers, and in the presence of the European Union as an observer.