A statement by the spokesman of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Baris Burcu, in which he said a Cyprus solution would create a new federal structure, caused uproar on Friday after being interpreted by opposition parties as being reference to the hated ‘virgin birth’.
In a written statement, Burcu touched on the issue of “how the new state will emerge”. Traditionally, Greek Cypriots have considered the ‘virgin-birth’ approach anathema and see the new Cyprus as being a continuation of the Republic in federal form with its international standing intact.
Turkish Cypriots argued that any agreement will be the result of two entities agreeing to form a new partnership.
Burcu’s statement began with the acknowledgment that, amidst talks for a settlement, “the Greek Cypriot side had entered an electoral process”, which will likely translate to tougher rhetoric by political leaders. He was referring to the upcoming legislative elections, scheduled for May.
“It is obvious that during the time period until May, the Greek Cypriot leadership will be trying to give satisfactory messages to their people and will be increasingly continuing to do so as election day approaches,” Burcu said.
“As the two sides do not recognise each other and as the confederation of two separate sovereign states is not being negotiated, it goes without saying that a United Federal Cyprus of two constituent states is what will be established,” Burcu said.
“This situation does not mean that we accept the ‘Republic of Cyprus’, from which we have been excluded for years and which represents the Greek Cypriot community only, and that we are trying to amend it.”
But then Burcu cited a statement by Akinci last September, in which the Turkish Cypriot leader said that the “new federative structure” will not apply to the UN and to the EU for membership again, meaning that the Republic of Cyprus’ capacity of member to both these institutions will be carried over to the new federal state. “This new structure will be taking the place of the old one in those institutions as well,” Akinci had said.
Burcu said that claims made by President Nicos Anastasiades that Akinci was in support of a solution which would be achieved through the evolution of the Cyprus Republic, did not reflect reality and that the new structure would be established with a new name and a new flag.
The comments drew the ire of Greek Cypriot political parties who argued that it signaled the Turkish Cypriot leader’s intransigence on the issue of virgin-birth versus a transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into a federal state.
“Occupation leader Mustafa Akinci has made clear that he does not accept the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus, accurately describing a virgin-birth approach,” DIKO said in a statement.
“The occupation leader refers to the creation of a ‘new partnership’, with a ‘new structure, name and flag’, […] and that the pseudo-state will evolve into a ‘constituent state’ of the ‘new federal partnership’, in the same way that the Republic of Cyprus will become a ‘constituent state’ of the ‘new partnership’, which will replace the ‘old structure’.”
Socialist EDEK was equally critical, urging Anastasiades to make clear that the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus will in no way cease to exist, or be equated to the unrecognised Turkish Cypriot breakaway regime in the north “in the guise of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state”.
“Once again, it is demonstrated how dangerous it is to constantly make concessions to the other side, which clearly wants no solution,” the party said.
Smaller parties in the rejectionist camp Citizens’ Alliance, European Party, and the Greens, joined in, saying it is imperative that the new federal state is clearly identified as an evolved form of the Republic of Cyprus.
The reactions followed the government’s reassurances that the “continuation of the Republic of Cyprus will be secured through specific clauses of a solution to the Cyprus problem”.
Ruling DISY’s leader Averof Neophytou urged patience, saying that a solution that does not guarantee the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus will simply not be accepted.
“If and when we have a proposed agreement listing the terms and prerequisites clearly and unambiguously, we will comment on the agreement, not on any remarks,” he said.
Commenting on opposition parties’ claims that the Republic of Cyprus is in danger of being disbanded, Neophytou wondered whether they have seen the agreement.
“If they have, they should inform us about it,” he said sarcastically.
AKEL, the only opposition party backing the ongoing talks, reaffirmed that the continued existence of the Republic of Cyprus is a “red line” for the party.
“But we choose to judge Mr Burcu for what he actually said, not what he is said to have said,” said political bureau member Toumazos Tsielepis.
“He said many important things which prove that, regardless of what the Turkish Cypriot side says to impress its local audience, it fully understands that in reality the new state of affairs will be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus.”
According to Tsielepis, Burcu clearly said that a federation of two constituent states is being sought, as opposed to a confederation of two sovereign states.
“Also, he spoke of a new, federal structure, not a new state,” Tsielepis argued.
“And lastly, according to opinions by prominent professors of international law, retaining the capacity of EU and UN member-state constitutes the strongest proof – among others, such as the continuation of international treaties signed by the Republic of Cyprus to date – that the continued existence of the Republic of Cyprus is guaranteed.”