By Evie Andreou
The island’s two leaders, President Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, said on Sunday they did not rule out the possibility of a settlement of the Cyprus problem by spring as long as there was sufficient will.
The two leaders talked about their efforts toward a settlement to Turkish journalist Cuneyt Ozdemir, as part of his documentary on the future of the island. The documentary was aired by CNN Turk on Sunday night. Ozdemir visited Anastasiades and Akinci, each in their offices, and set similar questions on a possible settlement to both men.
Asked whether he believed this time a settlement was possible and would be achieved by spring, president Anastasiades said that he hoped for the creation of conditions that would lead to a solution.
“There is progress in many chapters, but I have to say it is not without difficulties that we have managed to overcome problems. With the help and mutual understanding of the concerns of the other side, we will reach a compromise solution, which will be accepted by all, without anyone feeling they are the defeated side,” he said.
He said he did not rule out the possibility of a settlement by spring “as long as there is will”. He added that Turkey’s active support was also necessary.
On the same question Akinci said that he was pushing for a settlement by spring. Akinci added that generally there was no tension at the negotiating table, although at times things might heat up. “But we are not there to fight but to seek compromise. The most important is mutual understanding,” Akinci said.
Asked about what was different during the present negotiations, Akinci said that both sides had realised what was no longer feasible and had come to certain realisations.
“We founded a ‘state’ which we did not succeed in having recognised. Even Turkey, which is the only country that recognised it, did not succeed in applying its terms of recognition. Our (football) teams cannot even play friendly matches with Turkish teams,” Akinci said. He added that the Greek Cypriot side had made its own realisations and that at this point a non-solution would not benefit anyone.
As regards compensation for properties, Akinci said that the amount to be paid in compensation has been estimated by experts to be between $25 billion and $30 billion but that an additional amount would be required.
He said that both leaders asked the United Nations Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, to discuss with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the issue of securing the funds.
“We will try to set up a compensation fund. Although it is one of our problems, I want to clarify that it will not be an obstacle towards a solution,” Anastasiades said. Asked if he is referring to a loan from the IMF, he said that the issue would be dealt with by experts and that funds may be secured from various sources.
Akinci said that he would like the property issue to be discussed last, because if it were to be discussed now the next day it would be all over the media.
As regards the property rights of the owner, Akinci said that the Turkish Cypriot side insists that the person who has been using the property for four decades has rights as well.
The person who has been living there has a 42-year-old attachment, Akinci said. What the Turkish Cypriot side had accepted, Akinci said, was not that the owner has the first say, but that the first application to the (property) committee would be submitted by the owner, but that did not mean the issue would be resolved entirely in his favour.
If the owner wanted compensation, there would be no problem, Akinci said, but if he wanted to return, “Then what happens to the person who lives there?” He added that no agreement had been reached on that point yet.
Akinci said that the priorities of the Turkish Cypriot side are political equality, while of the Greek Cypriot side it is guarantees, and the return of territory, as big a percentage as possible.
As regards guarantees and the role of Greece, President Anastasiades said that after 1974, Greece is no loner involved in the internal affairs of Cyprus. He also reiterated that guarantees of the “motherlands” were not necessary.
“This should not be considered as disregarding our national bonds,” he said. “We will be an independent member state of the EU. Of course we will have relations with the two countries (Greece and Turkey) but there will not be intervention in the country’s internal affairs.”