The government insisted on Sunday there were no timetables for a Cyprus solution, spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said following comments by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci that he expected rapid progress after May’s Greek Cypriot parliamentary elections.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Limassol, Christodoulides said: “Since the start of the current effort we have heard about January, March and now June. There is and there never was a timetable issue. How will the whole process goes depends solely on the results of the dialogue at the negotiating table.”
Christodoulides, when asked to comment, said he could answer Akinci’s statements point by point, but this was not going to help solve the Cyprus problem, which would not be settled through media interviews or grand statements.
“As repeatedly said, the Cyprus issue will be resolved at the negotiating table,” he said.
“Our side which wants more than anyone else to solve the Cyprus problem remains serious, committed to the need for hard work and tough negotiations and all will be judged by the final result. Such statements or interviews relating to the substance of the discussions do not help the ongoing dialogue.”
Asked whether Cyprus would come under pressure at Monday’s EU summit with Turkey as far as opening Ankara’s accession chapters was concerned, Christodoulides said Cyprus wanted to see Turkey’s accession because it would always be a neighbouring state and “you can’t change geography”.
But, like all candidate countries, Turkey had commitments to the EU that must be met “so there is no question of either pressures or inducements from third parties”.
“Our positions are clear, they are known, and beyond that, in connection with the matters to be discussed at tomorrow’s summit, the state of affairs in Turkey is not seen as the best in Brussels. We have on the one had migration where we do not see the cooperation that should exist to stop the flow to Europe, while at the same time the latest developments in Turkey with the government’s actions against a particular newspaper has caused reactions at both a European and international level,” said the spokesman.
Greek Cypriot political parties also reacted to Akinci’s interview, with opposition DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos saying it reflected the known intransigent Turkish position, “majorities, guarantees and the rotating presidency”.
“The image of Mr Akinci and the expectations some had from him are crumbling day by day,” said Papadopoulos.
“One of the biggest problems we face today is that some people, especially in the AKEL-DISY alliance, believe that Turkey wants a solution and that the Greek Cypriots are the problem. We disagree with them,” he added. “We believe that Turkey does not want a solution and that the Greek Cypriots have legitimate concerns, which must be taken into account.”
But DISY leader Averof Neophytou echoed the government spokesman’s view that the Cyprus problem could only be resolved at the table. Having said that, he added that looking at Akinci’s comments, it seemed that some issues “are moving in a direction that we do not support”. ‘But there were comments on some which I believe show significant progress such as security and guarantees that the Greek Cypriot side should feel comfortable with,” Neophytou added.
“This is an important step. I wonder why in this country we have spent a lifetime trying to find things to disagree with and not note some points that are positive. We live in a country where society has only learned negative thinking. If we want to create the best Cyprus, we should seize the opportunity to do what we can, despite the difficulties which we recognise, to reunite our country and negotiations are the only way to get rid of the occupation.”
Asked specifically to comment on Akinci’s statement about freedom of movement, Neophytou said there would be no such restrictions in a united Cyprus where the European Union’s main principles would be respected.