IF Turkey wants to contribute to the Cyprus peace talks, it will not create any problems in the Republic of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, because it knows what the reaction will be, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Tuesday.
Commenting on state radio on the Turkish referendum, Christodoulides said that, as far as the government is concerned, the ideal scenario would be for stability to prevail in Turkey, so that “the conditions are created for serious and bold decisions on the Cyprus problem”.
“Evaluating the referendum result is an ongoing process,” the spokesman said.
“For us, what is important is that substantive talks between the two leaders start on Thursday. The agenda will include governance, the economy, and European Union-related issues.”
Qualifying his assertion that “decisions will be made in Ankara”, Christodoulides said the issue of four freedoms for Turkish citizens came up at the international conference on Cyprus in Geneva.
“There, [Turkish foreign minister Mr Mevlut] Cavusoglu referred to the four freedoms for Turkish nationals in the context of a solution to the Cyprus problem, in the presence of over 30 people,” he said.
“The issue has since been tabled by the Turkish Cypriot side, too. The ‘equal treatment’ of Greek and Turkish nationals amounts to the same thing – it just sounds better.”
With regard to the Turkish Cypriot side’s demand for ‘effective participation’ in every decision-making body, the government spokesman said that “if the goal is to create a federal state where every decision will be made on an ethnic basis, we might as well stop trying”.
“The demand for at least one Turkish Cypriot vote to ratify any decision is interpreted as the right to a veto,” Christodoulides said.
“We know a veto right on every decision, whether ethnicity-related or not, will not work. For instance, the Securities and Exchange Commission makes a certain type of decisions. Could these decisions ever be made on an ethnic basis? Some government bodies could feature a Turkish Cypriot majority, others an equal number of members – this is not the point. The point is what kind of viability criteria we set for the new state of affairs.”
On the Turkish Cypriot community’s perspective of the Turkish referendum, Christodoulides said both communities should “consider” the result and “where Turkey is heading”.
The majority of the Turkish Cypriot community voted against the constitutional amendments proposed by the Turkish government, but the so-called prime minister of the breakaway regime, Tahsin Ertugruloglu, said in a statement on Tuesday that the result “can be an example to the TRNC and kickstart the debate on changing its system of governance to a presidential one”.
“In the new era, the relations between the TRNC and the motherland, Turkey, will grow even closer and stronger in all areas,” he said.
But the Turkish Cypriot teachers’ union Ktos went the other way, saying the ‘Yes’ vote in the plebiscite “brought Turkey back 200 years, culturally and institutionally”.
“No one who feels Cypriot and has the Cypriot identity can feel connected, culturally and historically, to today’s theocratic, dictatorial Turkey,” secretary-general Besim Baysal said.
“We will organise, we will resist, we will not abandon ourselves, our children, democracy, peace, and freedom.”