The government on Wednesday rejected the notion that failing to solve the Cyprus problem within a year would be a lost opportunity because its main goal is to present a solution accepted by the people, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Wednesday.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, Christodoulides said that the government did not rule out the possibility of a settlement within 2016, but that what is being discussed and agreed at the negotiations table is far more important.
The comment followed Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s statement that if there were no settlement within the year, the opportunity might be lost and it could also lead to widening division between the two communities.
Akinci, in his public address on Tuesday to mark the 42nd anniversary of the Turkish invasion, referred to the presidential elections of February 2018, and the election campaign that will begin from March 2017.
“We stress and warn that new problems will arise unless we enter 2017 with the Cyprus problem resolved in 2016,” Akinci said.
He also mentioned that drilling for natural gas, scheduled for the beginning of 2017, could trigger new tensions if a solution is not reached by then.
Akinci also said that the Turkish Cypriot side had done its fair share, both on a technical and political level, as regards the opening of the Derynia-Apliki crossing, the interoperability of mobile phones on both sides of the island, and the permanent connection of the electricity grid, which was part of the confidence building measures agreed by the two leaders last year. The Greek Cypriot side has yet to take measures to overcome obstacles, he said.
The refusal of the Greek Cypriot side to take up on his offer for help to put out the Solea fires last month, reinforced the distrust he said.
The aim of the last three meetings of the two leaders in July, Akinci said, was to reduce existing differences and make 2016, the year of the settlement of the Cyprus problem.
“We are not adherents of theories concerning last opportunities. We do wish to reach a solution as soon as possible, if feasible within this year,” Christodoulides said.
The essence is what goes on at the negotiations table, he said, and not making public declarations. “There is no point in agreeing to a solution that will not be accepted by the people”.
He added that as regards the negotiations, progress had been achieved on a number of issues, but disagreements remained on others.
He added that at their last three meetings, which are to take place on July 22,26 and 29, the two leaders will discuss and assess the progress made on all six chapters, and will decide as to how to procced. These three meetings are “defining”, Christodoulides said.
Taking into consideration the concerns as to what the 43,000 strong Turkish troops stationed in Cyprus could have done during the coup attempt in Turkey last week, he said, reinforced the Greek Cypriot side’s position that following a settlement, neither the Turkish military nor Turkey itself should be present on the island.
“That is why we wish a settlement the soonest possible so that neither Turkey nor its military are present in Cyprus,” Christodoulides said.