By Stefanos Evripidou
IGNORING THE government’s call for greater EU involvement in the peace talks would expose the union to charges of hypocrisy, said Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides yesterday.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, Kasoulides said: “We want the EU to contribute to efforts to solve the Cyprus solution. We do not want them to simply be observers and raise the flag like a linesman whenever something to be agreed in discussions violates EU laws.”
According to reports, the government would like to see the European Council, whose president, Herman Van Rompuy is currently in Cyprus, appoint a special envoy to the talks.
The thinking behind the proposal is that the opinion of a more senior Council representative would have more political weight than a European Commission technocrat. The government wants any solution to be prepared within the framework of Cyprus’ obligations to the EU as a member state and in line with EU values and principles.
In other words, the Greek Cypriot leadership wants to see the rights and obligations emanating from EU law enshrined in any solution, rather than a host of derogations from EU law to satisfy Turkish Cypriot demands.
Press reports suggest the government’s call for greater EU involvement has not been warmly received either by Turkey, the UN or the EU.
“Perhaps (the EU) doesn’t want to. Perhaps it wants to play the role of Pontius Pilate,” said Kasoulides.
“It is their right. But it is also our right to indicate (in the scheduled meeting with Van Rompuy) that it is hypocritical on the one hand to eagerly want a solution of the Cyprus problem and have a government inviting you to come and help, and on the other, to refuse.”
Regarding efforts between the two sides to prepare a joint declaration ahead of the official launch of the talks, the minister warned that agreement had to be reached on the basis of a solution, the process and the end goal before talks could continue.
“Do you want to start the talks with a lukewarm joint statement which will not set out the basis and principles? …What is the desired result of the talks? We have to know what we are going to negotiate on,” said Kasoulides.
President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday briefed party leaders at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia on the latest developments in the peace process and efforts to agree on a joint statement.
Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said members of the working groups that will support Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis in the talks should be decided by the end of the week.
Meawhile, Turkish paper Hurriyet Daily News quoted Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Levent Gumrukcu saying Turkey wants to see the talks resume as soon as possible and concluded swiftly under a timetable.
“We are not naively optimistic, but we receive positive signals from the other side. There’s an important window of opportunity for a settlement,” said Gumrukcu.
“If we can utilise this chance, many issues considered risky today such as energy resources will create an opportunity for peace and cooperation in the entire eastern Mediterranean.”