As a last resort, Turkish Cypriots want to be able to call on Turkey to intervene in the event of a repeat of the inter-communal strife that broke out in the 1960s, but were willing to discuss a gradual reduction of the Turkish occupying forces currently in the north.
In an interview with Turkey’s NTV, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they want to be able to call on Turkey to intervene after all safeguards were exhausted.
“As a last effort, Turkish Cypriots should utilize Turkey’s strength and call on Turkey following a decision of their parliament,” Akinci said.
Security and guarantees is a thorny aspect of ongoing talks to reunify the island. Turkish Cypriots want Turkey to keep some form of right to intervene while Greek Cypriots want zero troops and zero guarantees, arguing that the EU could provide the necessary protection.
“It is impossible for us to accept this,” Akinci said. “The European Union cannot ensure the security and guarantees the Turkish Cypriots want. There is no such mechanism in the EU,” Akinci said.
The Turkish Cypriot leader said they were willing to discuss a gradual reduction of Turkish troops over a few years.
There are no official figures but it is widely reported that Turkey maintains around 40,000 troops in the northern part of the island, although some observers believe the number is exaggerated.
“With the solution there will be a specific reduction of this number,” Akinci said. “There can be an agreement on this.”
He said Greek Cypriots should be realists because it was impossible for Turkish Cypriots to accept zero troops and zero guarantees at a referendum.
“If we want a solution we are compelled to find a formula.”
The two sides also have differences on governance.
Turkish Cypriots want the federal state to have a rotating presidency, warning that this could be a deal breaker.
“A plan that does not include this will not be put to a referendum by Mustafa Akinci,” he said.
The Turkish Cypriot leader reiterated that this was the last effort to resolve the problem by his generation.
“I can say that it is the last chance to reunify the island under a federation.”