By Stefanos Evripidou
OPPOSITION AKEL leader Andros Kyrianou yesterday called for patience and calm as negotiations to end the 40-year division of the island begin.
Asked to comment on statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu regarding the continued presence of settlers and the Turkish army post-solution, Kyprianou said one should expect Eroglu to make such comments and called for calm.
“We need to keep calm and be patient,” he said.
The opposition leader called on President Nicos Anastasiades to keep the parties fully briefed on the latest developments at the negotiating table so that the Greek Cypriot leadership can work based on consensus. Unity on the domestic front was hugely important, he added.
Eroglu was quoted in the Turkish Cypriot press saying Turkish settlers who came to live in Cyprus post-1974 invasion would not be sent back to Turkey if agreement is reached on a reunited federal republic. He likened the Greek Cypriot demands to remove the Turkish army from the island and abolish Turkey’s guarantee to “pursuing a dream”.
In an interview with Anatolu news agency, Eroglu said: “The comments of the Greek Cypriots on this issue are wrong. The Turkish army cannot leave this place.”
He argued that nullifying the Treaty of Guarantee would require the approval of all three guarantor powers, the UK, Greece and Turkey.
“If one takes into consideration that this is a red line for Turkey, it will not happen,” he said.
Eroglu gave his view of the positive aspects of the joint declaration agreed between the two leaders earlier this month, repeating his interpretation that “a bizonal, bicommunal partnership will be established by two founding states of equal status”.
He also argued that the Greek Cypriot side has accepted that the constituent states to be established under a federation will be sovereign.
The Greek Cypriot negotiating team, meanwhile, is adamant that the declaration clarifies once and for all that the federation will result from a transformation of the Cyprus Republic through a process of constitutional review, and that the new federation will have single sovereignty, citizenship and international personality.
UN Special Representative Lisa Buttenheim yesterday met separately with the two sides’ respective negotiators, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Kudret Ozersay, to discuss preparations for their joint meeting planned for Monday.
Mavroyiannis will head to Ankara and Ozersay to Athens next Thursday to hold talks with senior diplomats at the foreign ministries of Turkey and Greece respectively.
The Greek Cypriot negotiator is expected to raise the issue of confidence-building measures like the opening of Varosha as well as implementation of the Ankara Protocol with the Turkish ministry’s undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.
While Eroglu has been fanning the flames of misinterpretation, others within Turkey and among the Turkish Cypriots have been commending Anastasiades for his handling of the peace talks.
Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who replaced the more belligerent Egemen Bagis, told the Turkish NTV channel that despite facing difficulties with coalition partners and the Church, Anastasiades “is the most positive politician we could find on the south side”.
Regarding the peace talks, he said: “Political support and confidence-building measures are very important in a process…We provide full support. The UN is very determined. The EU offers big support. Great powers, such as the USA, also offer big support. In a place where so much support exists, I saw very clearly that the people on the Greek Cypriot side are not like in the past and they also want solution now”.
Cavusoglu further argued that consensus exists in the big EU countries and institutions on the lifting of chapters 23 and 24 in Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, which are currently unilaterally blocked by Cyprus.
This will most likely come on to the agenda after the European Parliament elections in May, he said.
Former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was also quoted saying that conditions for a Cyprus solution are different now than in the past. He and former president Demetris Christofias were unable to reach agreement because of the latter’s problems with his coalition partners and due to time constraints.
The fact that Anastasiades has close links with right-wing political forces and the Church highlights the difference between the latest peace effort and the one before.