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Cyprus

Return of 100,000 refugees, Morphou, on table at talks (2nd update)

President Nicos Anastasiades

PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday that among the Greek Cypriot side’s positions on the territorial issue is the return of at least 100,000 refugees to the north, under Greek Cypriot administration.

During a televised press conference, ahead of his trip to the resort of Mont Pelerin where he is to discuss the thorny chapter of territory with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, the president said that the issue has not been discussed yet but that each side submitted its positions.

Commenting on the possibility of the return of the town of Morphou, the president said that the aim is to achieve those territorial adjustments that will allow the maximum number of Greek Cypriots to return to areas in the north, under Greek Cypriot administration, including Morphou.

“Our positions have already been submitted. Areas must be returned with such population density, so that at least 100,000 return under Greek Cypriot administration,” president Anastasiades said.

The proposals also concern areas linked with the community’s historic ties, but are also linked with the fertility of the soil, its use, as well as the shorelines.

The president said that for the talks to proceed to the next stage, that of a multi-party conference as per the request of the Turkish Cypriot side, progress must have been achieved, meaning that “convergences must be achieved to the maximum as regards territorial adjustments but also the presentation of maps including what will be agreed on”.

“Therefore, for a next step, either this is called a multi-party (conference) or otherwise, relevant progress must be achieved,” president Anastasiades said.

As regards the issue of the rotating presidency which Turkish Cypriots insist on, the president said that the Greek Cypriot side does not accept such a provision. He also rejected claims that the Greek Cypriot side would back down on this in exchange with the other side making concessions on other issues.

The president refrained from giving an estimate on the cost of the settlement. He said that a study is underway by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and that ways are sought so that Cypriots do not bear the cost.

The aim, he said, is for the compensation fund for those who will opt not to return to their property, to be ready by the day the settlement agreement is signed.

He also said that the financial commitments of each side will not burden the other, and that the debt of Turkish Cypriots to Turkey is an issue that concerns only them.

“Mother and child will sort things between them, but they will not force anyone else to pay their (financial) commitments,” the president said.

In order to alleviate concerns and instil a post-settlement sense of security in both communities, the president said that there is a consensus that timeframes as regards the implementation of the agreement must be “the fastest possible”.

President Anastasiades also recalled an earlier statement by Akinci that the security of one must not be a threat to the other.

“It is understood that the Turkish troops can be a security for one community, but they are certainly causing insecurity to the other community. Therefore, I do not consider that, based on the structure of the state that is to be transformed, any guarantees are required,” he said.

He added that among the Greek Cypriot side’s suggestions are “mechanisms so that where possible episodes are observed, if observed, to be dealt with effectively even going to, if and when they escalate to such an extent, the (UN) Security Council which could decide further measures”.

What will be the real guarantee and sense of security among residents, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, he said, are those mechanisms that would act at any given time to deter any episodes.

He added that this is the first time ever that the issue of guarantees is being brought up in the negotiations.

He reiterated that the goal is “to achieve a solution that will allow the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus to a modern, European state”. Such a state, the president said, needs neither guarantors nor occupation armies.

The president said he is going to the peace talks in Switzerland next week bearing in mind that the settlement must respond to the expectations of Cypriots, but also alleviate concerns.

In his introductory speech, the president said he chose to give an account of the most important convergences and understandings achieved so far.

He added that the chapters of security and guarantees and of territory, “which will define the final outcome”, have not been discussed yet.

“It is well known that there is significant deviation on both issues between the positions of both sides. I hope that at the negotiations that will take place as of Monday in Switzerland, we will have such progress, that the potential will be created to move to the substantive discussion on the chapters of security and guarantees,” the president said.

Anastasiades said that significant progress has been observed on the chapters of governance and power-sharing, the European Union, economy, and to a lesser extent, property.

Despite that there are significant disagreements on the chapter of property, the president said, there is progress as regards the right to property through a number of procedures like resettlement, partial or alternate property return, property exchange and compensation.

The aim of the negotiations, he said, is to ensure a strong, effective and functional governance system. He added that a list has been agreed with, among others, responsibilities of the central government including external relations, relations with the EU, the defence policy, the management of natural resources, control and safety of land, sea and air borders, and immigration policy.

“Each state will have exclusive responsibility among others to maintain its own independent social security system, its own health system, its own educational system, and its own local government,” the president said, while the particular ethnic, cultural and religious characteristics of each community will be ensured.

“I want to make it clear for the umpteenth time that I find completely unacceptable claims that the under negotiation solution will lead to a confederation and not to a federation,” he said. This, would be the case, the president said, if talks were between the leaders of two pre-existing states and not between the leaders of two communities as is the case today.

The president also said that the island’s post-settlement demographic character will be, “with a small deviation, the demographic composition of the Republic of 1960”.

“The most important thing is that the above arrangement ensures not only the present but also the future,” the president said, as in order for a Turkish national to acquire Cypriot citizenship, first, four Greek nationals must acquire the same status.

The president said that they have been discussing since day one, for the fenced-off area of Famagusta to be returned to its rightful owners, for the immediate return of property in the buffer zone to its owners, and the departure of a significant number of occupation troops.

Following his speech, which begun at 6.30pm, the president took questions of seven television anchors. Arrangements have been made for other journalists to follow the conference in English and Turkish from a special venue at the presidential palace.



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