Turkey would not have been at the negotiating table if it did not want to cooperate, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday, as he foresaw a radical reform of the island’s security.
Speaking at a news conference following the conference on Cyprus in Geneva, Anastasiades said it was the first time since 1974 the Turkish side had submitted a map providing for the return of occupied territory and the first time that Turkey discussed guarantees and troop withdrawal.
“If Turkey didn’t want to cooperate it would not be at the negotiating table discussing the withdrawal of troops,” Anastasiades said.
“We are at the negotiating table … not to confirm the 1960s agreements but to find a solution that meets the expectations of the Cypriot people.
Anastasiades said reunification talks should produce a “radical” change in the island’s security situation, currently guaranteed by Greece, Turkey, and Britain.
“The fact that the UN announcement outlines a clear intent by participants to reach a mutually acceptable solution on the security and guarantee issues is a mandate to the working groups to process new forms (of guarantees), acceptable and radically different from the guarantee system of 1960.” he said.
The conference broke up on Thursday with a promise to bring officials together next week in working groups to tackle the thorny issue of security.
The technical talks on security, scheduled to begin on January 18, are expected to run in parallel with negotiations to tie up unresolved issues in other areas of the talks, the United Nations said in a statement late on Thursday.
The bone of contention is the presence of about 30,000 Turkish troops on the island, which the Greek Cypriot side want removed but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has described as a “force of stability.”
“Actually, it is a source (of) and maintains instability, which is why the Cyprus problem has been open 43 years. But what one should focus on is that we are discussing ways to find a solution which will reflect the security concerns of all Cypriots,” Anastasiades said.
The president said his was the only comprehensive proposal on security and guarantees tabled during the conference.
The technical talks, according to Anastasiades, should lead to a second conference, which would potentially be at the highest political level.