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President: solution possible even before end of the year if we overcome differences

President Nicos Anastasiades has said that the most significant differences on the Cyprus issue, lie in the core and fundamental chapters of territory and guarantees, which will weigh significantly as to whether a solution would be feasible.

“If we succeed to overcome the difficulties that exist in these two Chapters, I am hopeful that a solution can be reached soon even before the end of this year,” he said in his speech  to the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin titled: ‘My vision of Cyprus’ role in the European Union’.

As regards the current state of play in the negotiations, he said that progress had been achieved on an important number of issues related to the chapters of governance and power-sharing, economy and the EU, while some progress had been achieved on the chapter of property. At the same time, he said, there were still divergences and issues to thoroughly negotiate on these chapters.

The president also expressed the belief that Cyprus` capacity as a member-state more than adequately addressed any security concerns and provided the best guarantee for all Cypriots.

“During our deliberations to find a lasting solution one of the main core issues is the position of Turkey to keep occupied troops for the so called security of the Turkish Cypriots. Greece does not want to be a guarantor power any more, Britain keeps a very positive position saying that unless both communities ask it is not interested to continue being a guarantor power, so the only remaining guarantor power who wants to continue, and to maintain Turkish troops is Turkey,” he said.

He also said that based on what has been already agreed regarding the structure of the new state of affairs, it was crystal-clear that maintaining third country military troops or guarantees in 2016, in an EU member state “is not only unnecessary but also an anachronism in today’s world”.

The president also said that it was vital for Turkey to show commitment, engage constructively and proceed with concrete and tangible steps which would positively reinforce the negotiating process.
“Our negotiations continue this month, with the aim to bridge the gap on existing differences and pending issues, as well as achieve progress on all those issues that we have yet to thoroughly discuss,” he said.

He added that the guiding doctrine throughout the negotiating process was to freely reach a solution that was well-prepared and presented to the people a clear settlement, with no constructive ambiguities and deficiencies.  “We want to ensure not only the smooth, speedy and secure implementation of the settlement, but also its viability and functionality”.

“Otherwise, any hurried actions will constitute a repetition of mistakes of the past, will not lead to the desired result and will jeopardize our prospect of reaching a settlement, bringing justifiable disappointment to the people with consequent negative repercussions”, he said.

Referring to the role of Cyprus in Europe and its wider region he said that “one of our key foreign-policy goals was for Cyprus to perform a constructive and non-conflicting regional role”.

“In this regard, we have actively embarked on further strengthening of our already excellent relations with our neighbors with whom we share a perceptive affinity as regards the vision of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Eastern Mediterranean”, he said.

Referring to the discovery of substantial amounts of hydrocarbons in the region, the president said that it had opened up new possibilities for cooperation and synergies, not only between the countries of the region, but also between the EU and those countries through Cyprus.

Cyprus having only recently come out of and economic crisis successfully, like Ireland, was now ready to work with its European partners to build a stronger Europe, he added.

Referring to UK’s future exit, he said that it representd another major challenge for Europe. and even more so for Cyprus and Ireland.

“As a result of our extended ties with the UK, we are the two countries that will probably be the most affected by this.  Fully aware of the magnitude and complexity of the task, we look forward in the coming months to hearing from the UK on how it intends to proceed with the exit negotiation process as well as on how it envisages its future relationship with the EU,” he said.

He also noted that UK’s participation in the single market as well as the protection of the “four freedoms” are expected to be the critical issues during the negotiations, noting that in any case, this must be a Council-led process, with the member-states having the last word in the negotiations.

“We, on our part, are already in the process of identifying the areas that will be affected by Britain’s exit from the EU. We have a particular concern on fiscal issues and taxation, where we will lose a partner within the EU with whom we often saw eye to eye. We understand that Ireland, due to its special ties with the UK, has its own particular concerns, which go even beyond the economic aspects and touches, I would say, every aspect of your daily life”, he said.

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