Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed on Wednesday that the issue of security in respect to the island’s reunification could only be settled by abolishing the 1960s system of guarantees and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus.
Tsipras was speaking after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades who briefed him on the results of last week’s talks in Switzerland.
The Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders will return to Mont Pelerin on Sunday in a bid to strike a deal on the thorny aspect of territory, paving the way for a multilateral meeting on security.
“Let me be clear, this matter can be settled at a multilateral framework only on the basis of an agreement to abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and the full withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island,” Tsipras said.
The Greek Cypriots insist that there cannot be a deal with the current system of guarantees, which Turkey cited in 1974 when it invaded the island.
Turkish Cypriots argue, however, that Turkey was there to protect them, pointing out at the intercommunal strife of the 1960s that saw them withdraw into enclaves.
The Cyprus talks have become more important, considering the critical times in the region and Europe, Tsipras said, reiterating his country’s support for a viable and functional settlement of the island’s division.
The Cyprus issue was not a bilateral problem, the Greek prime minister said, it was an international problem that was started by the illegal invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island by Turkey.
Anastasiades said he briefed Tsipras on the results and progress of the talks, as well as the prospects of the upcoming meeting.
The president reiterated that there cannot be a European state under the guarantee of another country, along with the presence of Turkish troops.
Anastasiades said progress has been achieved in the talks but differences remained.
The president expressed the hope that the Turkish side would display good will and understanding so as to strike a deal as soon as possible. He urged Turkey to encourage and support Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in a bid to overcome the current difficulties.
Anastasiades later met Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos. On Thursday he is expected to brief Greek party leaders.