By Elias Hazou
The parties of the so-called rejectionist camp all expressed their dissatisfaction on Tuesday after being briefed by the President on the progress in reunification talks.
It’s understood the President’s briefing focused on the hot-button issues of property and the status and rights of Turkish settlers.
Speaking to reporters later, DIKO chairman Nicholas Papadopoulos called the briefing ‘unacceptable’.
And he called out President Nicos Anastasiades for ‘stubbornly’ refusing to hand over documents listing the convergences reached thus far between the two sides in the peace talks.
The refusal to hand over the documents because they might be leaked is a lame excuse, Papadopoulos said, as the documents are already in the possession of the Turkish Cypriots.
The real reason for the ‘information blackout’, he argued, is that the President does not want the public to learn what is being discussed behind closed doors, especially with regard to the property rights of Greek Cypriot refugees post-settlement.
Papadopoulos said he came away with the impression that the talks are being conducted ‘on Turkish terms’.
“It cannot be that the property owner is equated to the user, and meanwhile some people keep claiming that this constitutes respect for the right to property,” he said.
It seemed that the burden would fall on the owners to prove that their property in the north belonged to them before they could reap any benefits.
“By this rationale, we are talking about an ethnic-cleansing type of settlement, as the ownership of all properties will surely be brought into question,” the DIKO leader warned.
Likewise EDEK’s Marinos Sizopoulos reiterated that the rights of the property owner should supersede those of the user.
“It must not be that the usurper settlers, the users of Greek Cypriot properties, can acquire any rights,” he stressed.
His party also disagreed with the inclusion into a settlement of guaranteed population majorities in the constituent states of a reunited Cyprus, part of what is known as bizonality.
The Greens’ George Perdikis called the briefing ‘solid and substantive’, but still complained that overall the President is keeping the parties in the dark.
“Given we are seeking convergences with the Turkish Cypriots, we should first and foremost seek convergences among ourselves. Because it is a fact that there are disagreements.”
The Citizens Alliance said those quarters on the Greek Cypriot side who are cultivating a climate of optimism and euphoria among the people “should think again.”
Ruling DISY chief Averof Neophytou left the Presidential Palace without making any comments. The party later issued a generic statement, reiterating its support for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Back in July, Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci agreed on the creation of an independent property commission.
It was revealed that dispossessed owners and current users would have various choices regarding their claims to affected properties.
These would include compensation, exchange or reinstatement, but exercising any of these options would be subject to agreed criteria.
Affected properties would be categorised. The property commission would be mandated to resolve property claims according to mutually agreed criteria, and would be comprised of an equal number of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot members.
Also on Tuesday, and on the back of their meeting on Monday, the two sides’ chief negotiators held another lengthy session. According to reports, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ozdil Nami delved into the definition of terms pertaining to the property issue.
The negotiators are preparing the ground for the leaders’ next meeting, scheduled for September 14.
Asked to comment on the opposition parties’ criticism, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the Greek Cypriot side’s position is and remains that the legitimate owners must have the first say on their properties.
“It would be wrong to jump to conclusions….such as assuming that the views expressed by the Turkish side are a done deal. Besides, this is precisely why negotiations are being conducted, to discuss these issues. ”
The spokesman also dismissed the notion that the government is keeping information from the parties.
He said that the negotiating team is available to the parties for a briefing at any time, and that the parties have the ‘right to access’ any documents.
It would be ‘irresponsible’ to make known the contents of the peace talks, as the Greek Cypriot side would then attend the negotiations ‘naked’, Christodoulides added.
The spokesman pledged that people with property in the north would receive full information on the subject, and this before a settlement plan is put to plebiscite.