President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday hit back at critics of his stance on the Cyprus talks and called for the unity of the political parties so that the challenges ahead could be met.
Unveiling a monument in Agios Athanasios in honour of Greek Cypriots and Greeks who fell during the 1974 invasion, the president said that if there was progress at the talks, it was because the Greek Cypriot side showed courage and determination to meet the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots. He expected the Turkish Cypriots do the same.
Anastasiades said that during the last two years of “difficult negotiations”, the Greek Cypriot side had made great effort to reach an overall agreement.
“Throughout this round of talks we have achieved convergences on key issues and we have recorded positions that allow me to say that they constitute significant progress. Unfortunately, there are differences that remain unresolved,” he said.
He appealed to all political parties for unity, “both to those who blame me for having made unacceptable concessions, but also to the others, who dictate that I must continue and exhaust all options”.
The threats facing Cyprus needed unity, he said. “Now is the time to give our hands. When you are the target of threats, and you are still in negotiations, instead of exhortations about exhausting all options, it would be good to stand united to face the threats,” he said and had a dig at his critics, who “try to accuse of expediencies those that express the positions of the National Council.”
Anastasiades wondered “why, in the event the talks collapsed, should I take equal responsibility, given that instead of goodwill, I am met by the hardened positions (of the Turkish Cypriot side)?”
“I never sought the collapse (of the talks). On the contrary, through concrete actions, for which I have received severe criticism, I have shown that my aim is to continue the dialogue,” he said.
It should have been clear to all, he said, that when the aim was to create a homeland and a functioning European state that defended and safeguarded the human rights of all citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, one could not ignore positions that overturned basic principles.
Anastasiades said that his vision “was, and remains, the reunification of our homeland, its liberation from the occupying troops, the creation of a functioning state, the creation of conditions for peaceful coexistence and prosperity, security for all, and not unilaterally for some and a threat to others”.
He added that he would work for a settlement with the same determination but he knew where he could make concessions and what not to accept, “if we are to achieve a solution also acceptable by the Greek Cypriot community”.
Anastasiades has been under fire from main opposition Akel for placing next year’s presidential elections ahead of the talks.
Akel’s general secretary Andros Kyprianou warned on Sunday that the next meeting of the two leaders which was to take place on Wednesday, was critical, as, it would determine whether the effort to reach a settlement agreement would continue.
If there was no progress, he said, the procedure would stop until after the presidential elections and then it would become “extremely difficult” to get anywhere as conditions would change. He said that it had been a month and a half ago thatSerdar Denktash had announced that 7,200 new ‘citizenships’ would be granted. This number could have risen said Kyprianou.
This, he said, would change the agreement on population ratio and create huge problems as to the convergences achieved, whereas land development would continue thus affecting the issues of territory and property.