By George Psyllides
The two sides have the potential to finalise the joint statement in the coming days, the Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ said, as he suggested that reunification of the island could help Greek Cypriots overcome their economic woes.
“We now have the potential to finalise the statement within the coming days; we don’t need months of negotiations; we are nearly there,” Özdil Nami, ‘foreign minister’ of the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview. “It is going to be a historic document that addresses many of the controversial issues that have been in dispute between the two sides.”
The two sides have been trying to strike a deal on the document for months. Agreeing on the joint declaration would pave the way for reunification talks to start.
“It is the final phase,” Nami said.
He said President Nicos Anastasiades had set the matters that were vital to him: single sovereignty, single citizenship and a single international identity.
And the Turkish Cypriot side counteracted by saying that though it is true these concepts were important, concepts like political equality, internal citizenship and residual powers were also very important, Nami said.
“At the stage we are at, we have managed to overcome difficulties we faced and created a common language on these issues,” he told Hürriyet, but both sides were trying to inject a few sentences that would reassure their voters that the deal has not jeopardized their well-known positions.
“I think it is natural that both leaders are attempting to do this; it is also natural that some suggestions while being accepted some may not be,” Nami said.
He said Greek Cypriot faced serious economic woes and there was a realisation that “it may be a better idea to tackle the real problem and reunite Cyprus and start benefiting from what peace can offer.”
“They are not well off; they have lost almost half of their bank deposits, their pension funds have evaporated. Without a comprehensive settlement, it will take them 20 years to fully recover,” Nami said. “Youth unemployment is reaching 40 per cent; it is a dire situation.”
There were however the hydrocarbons, which Nami said would be best to sell through Turkey.
“The best way; the way with the least cost and risk would be to sell it through Turkey and the only way to achieve that will be through finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.”
Nami said Turkish Cypriots had higher expectations of Anastasiades, which he did not fulfil.
“If he fails to show the necessary leadership to finalise the joint statement that he initially requested, then that would send a signal that Cypriots have tried but failed to reach a settlement. At that point, the U.N. would have to take a look at want is going on exactly.”