By George Psyllides
THERE WAS no difficulty in preparing a joint list of confidence building measures (CBMs) with Turkish Cypriots, the government said on Wednesday, 24 hours before a meeting between the leaders of the two communities.
“Preparation of the list is ongoing and we cannot talk about what is included before it was completed,” government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said.
CBMs were one of the issues expected to be discussed by the negotiators of the two sides on Wednesday.
During their meeting last week, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci instructed the negotiators, to put together a joint list of CBMs that may be announced after the next leaders’ meeting on Thursday.
“We must wait for the preparation of the list and I emphasise, the two leaders are exclusively responsible for the decision on the CBMs,” Christodoulides said.
The spokesman said CBMs do not only concern crossing points between the two sides, but was quick to add there was nothing to announce at the moment.
There has been much speculation in the media regarding the crossing points.
So far it has been reported that the two sides were discussing the opening of access roads in Dherynia, Piroi, Lefka, Paphos Gate, Famagusta Gate, and Kokkina.
“The discussion concerning the CBMs will be a progressive effort,” the spokesman said. “The aim is to have announcements, if possible, at regular intervals.”
The spokesman avoided getting into a discussion about guarantees, a key issue in the effort to reunify the island.
“Our positions are known … and when the matter is discussed we will express our views,” Christodoulides said, adding that many other issues had to be agreed before opening that discussion.
The Greek Cypriot side wants the current guarantor system – used by Turkey to invade the island in 1974 – scrapped. The other two guarantors are the UK and Greece.
Article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee states, among others, that “in so far as common or concerted action may not prove possible, each of the three guaranteeing powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present Treaty.”
In a speech on Monday, Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis said ways must be found to guarantee all Cypriots and maximise the sense of security of both communities.
One important aspect, he said, was Cyprus’ participation in the EU and the policy of defence and security.
Mavroyiannis said there was another aspect, namely Turkey’s demand to have a say in Cyprus. To tackle this, there must be co-operation with the neighbouring country after a solution.
Greece has already said that guarantor powers were no longer necessary.
Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that the time to discuss the issue of guarantees was not now, but in the final stage of the negotiations.
“Talking about such matters now, and bringing them to the fore, is pointless, and to no one’s benefit,” he said.
However, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was adamant on Tuesday that Turkey would never give up its guarantor rights.
The Turkish leader also said that the EU could not be a guarantor in Cyprus.