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Kasoulides slams Turkish side for ‘becoming unrecognisable’

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides

The Turkish Cypriot side has become unrecognisable in recent days, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Thursday, “not wanting to talk, and wasting time”.

“They don’t even talk,” Kasoulides told the state broadcaster. “They have become unrecognisable in recent days.”

The foreign minister suggested Turkey employed this tactic in a bid to avoid discussion of the issue of security post-solution and the possibility of scrapping the system of guarantees.

“It avoided doing so in Geneva in January and then it raised the four freedoms issue,” Kasoulides said.

All this when it was the Turkish side pressing for a conference last December, warning that the end of the year was the deadline for the talks.

Kasoulides suggested the Turkish side was trying to have as many open issues as possible brought to the table of a future conference and through give-and-take, reduce its obligations as regards security.

“Or they do not want anything to progress and they want the effort to collapse without opening the aspect of security.”

The foreign minister said no progress had been achieved since January when the two leaders decided to work intensively throughout this past month to close all open issues.

“They want to waste more time. Its blatantly obvious,” the minister said, adding that the spat over the enosis commemoration was just another pretext not to talk.

How could things improve when Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, after 22 months of talks, was disputing President Nicos Anastasiades’ objectives in relation with the island’s reunification.

Akinci pulled out of a scheduled meeting on Thursday over a parliamentary decision last Friday week to commemorate the January 1950 Enosis referendum in public schools.

Anastasiades conceded the decision was a mistake but the Turkish Cypriot reaction had been exaggerated. Disy, which was heavily criticised for abstaining that day, has submitted a proposal to rectify the issue.

No date for a new meeting has been set and Akinci is flying to Pakistan next week to attend an economic summit that will also be attended by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. He plans to return on March 3.

Akel leader Andros Kyprianou urged the two leaders to avoid comments to allow for things to calm down.

“Independent of the share of responsibility each one has for the way things turned out, both must try to overcome this situation and restart the negotiations,” he said.

Kyprianou said the country’s interest was not served by the interruption and they were obliged to exhaust all options, as slim as they may be, to lead things towards a solution.

“Otherwise the consequences for our country will be damaging.”

The Akel leader, who has been on Anastasiades’ side throughout the process, did not think the Greek Cypriot side and the president himself “have no responsibility whatsoever as to how things turned out.”

However, he said, the Enosis issue alone was not an adequate excuse for Akinci’s stance.

“Certainly, there are deeper causes. Deeper causes do not exist only in the Turkish Cypriot side, they are also among Greek Cypriots,” he said. “It is no secret that some wanted the negotiations interrupted at all cost and all their actions aimed towards that direction.”

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