Although the Greek Cypriot side does not want to hear about timetables, July will be the “natural end date” for the talks, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has said.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet, he was referring to the start date for new drilling in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
“Making explorations [for hydrocarbons] in Eastern Mediterranean at a time when there is not an agreement [on Cyprus] would mean supporting the Turkish [Cypriot] side acting similarly,” Akinci said.
He repeated comments he made last week that though his statement had been taken a a threat by the Greek Cypriot side, they were merely the reality of the situation.
“Both of the two nations [of the island] have a right to a share of the natural gas resources,” said Akinci, adding that these resources could only be explored through “cooperation reached in peace and resolution.”
He said the Greek Cypriots do not want to hear about timetables and dates but this was a natural life-span for the current negotiations.
The leaders have agreed, after an eight-week impasse in the talks to hold four meetings for now beginning on April 20. Akinci said the four meetings were important and though he urged a more active role for the UN, he said he did not expect arbitration or bridging gaps in writing as was done during the Annan plan in 2004. However Akinci has asked for “oral ideas”.
He also spoke of a partnership in which Turkish Cypriots would have equal participation. Otherwise, they would remain spectators, he said, and the solution would effectively mean a single state. “Otherwise, despite the objections of one side, if decisions are taken by simple majority, the state will be non-functional,” he said.
Akinci said that the basis of living together in Cyprus was the building of trust between the two communities, and that attacks and harassment, which Turkish Cypriots faced in the south of the island had already damaged the climate of confidence.
He said 22 incidents of attacks and harassment of Turkish Cypriots in the south of the island had been recorded. He did not give a timeframe within which the incidents happened but said “a new one is being added to them every day”, according to a statement from the ‘TRNC’ press and information office.
“The building of trust between the two communities is crucial if we want to establish a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal structure, in order to live in peace on this island. This trust cannot be achieved by attacking Turkish Cypriots’ cars and those who travel to South Cyprus,” he said.
“As the Turkish Cypriot community, we would be content to see those who commit these crimes brought before the court and punished. Only if this occurs can we establish a deterrent and develop a culture of peace in Cyprus. ”
Akinci also commented on the issue of the EU four freedoms for Turkish nationals post-solution.
“There is no such issue. There may be something that can be requested but what is required is not like what has it has been exaggerated to be,” he said.
Akinci said the EU did in fact have a more realistic view on the issue than the Greek Cypriot side after they heard from him what it was that was being asked. Akinci was in Brussels last week.
“It was understood that this is a problem that can be addressed within the concept of equal treatment,” he said.
Responding, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the Turkish side was trying to equate the issue of Greek nationals in Cyprus with Turkish nationals. They could not be compared, he said.
“Greece is an EU member, Turkey is a candidate for accession to the EU, so this concerns only relations between Brussels and Ankara, between the EU and Turkey and cannot be accepted within the framework of the Cyprus problem,” he added.
Christodoulides said Turkey’s relations with the EU were governed by very specific contexts, such as, for example, the Customs Union and when it is implemented and Ankara normalises relations wit the Republic of Cyprus, which it does not recognise, those terms will then apply as they will to all member states.
The spokesman also denied Akinci’s claim that Turkish Cypriots would not have equal participation in a federal Cyprus. Like Akinci, he agreed there would be no UN arbitration.
“The UN on their part have expressed a desire, if requested by both sides, to help the process and I repeat, if requested jointly by the two leaders,” Christodoulides said.
After comments earlier in the day, returning to the issue of Sunday’s referendum in Turkey, the spokesman said developments there would inevitably affect developments in Cyprus because that was where the final decisions on the Cyprus issue would be taken.