President Nicos Anastasiades said that although important work has been done in the negotiations, he does not think it is sufficient to say with certainty that there will be a solution within a specific timeframe.
In an article published in Politis newspaper on Sunday, Anastasiades said however that if all sides supported the effort, especially Turkey, “we can talk about a new Cyprus emerging in 2016”.
“With the solution we want to create the foundations for cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots… to create a federal state with healthy and effective institutions that will ensure a secure future in a prosperous country with a European identity,” he said.
Anastasiades spoke of the bigger picture, of not just a Cyprus solution but of a regional vision. He spoke of the importance in this context of the visits late last year by the foreign ministers of the US, Russia, China, Germany and the United Kingdom.
“To all of them we imparted the idea that our vision was not only for Cyprus, but for the entire region and I think 2016 will be the key year for the decisions that will determine our future,” he added.
As for the Cyprus issue, Anastasiades said the question for many Greek Cypriots was simple. “After so many years of occupation, so many conflicts in the past, so much pain, we can live together with the Turkish Cypriots? My answer is equally simple; we have no other option but to find a way,” Anastasiades said.
Both he and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci were negotiating for their respective communities but also “for our common homeland, Cyprus”.
The solution of a bizonal bicommunal federation was the result of painful compromise, Anastasiades said, but it was also a worldwide system which brings together separate entities and peoples who want a common future even if they have different origins.
Referring to energy issues, Anastasiades said he was confident that Cyprus could not only be a producer and distributor of natural gas but also a bridge between the Middle Est and Europe.
“But to be able to develop to the full range of our vision for peace and stability we first need to end the Turkish occupation,” he said.
On Turkey’s EU accession course and the recent rekindling of relations between Ankara and the bloc, Anastasiades said Cyprus was ready to remove its objections to stalled chapters when Turkey “like any other accession country implements the obligations arising from the defined requirements of the accession process”, including its obligations to recognise the Republic of Cyprus as a member state.
“I know that for us a peaceful, stable Cyprus can not only prosper, but also set an example for the entire region,” he said.
In a separate interview on Sunday with Simerini, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the road to a solution was still a long one and with the positions being taken currently by Akinci, the desired results could not be achieved. Among other demands relating to property and population, the Turkish side is insisting on the continuation of Ankara’s guarantees post-solution. The Greek Cypriot side insists full EU membership and everything that goes with it is guarantee enough.
The next meeting of the leaders, and the first in 2016, is on Thursday.