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Centre parties call for troops out before implementing solution (updated)

Turkey needs to withdraw its troops

Parties of the so-called centre on Tuesday called for the abolition of the treaty of guarantees and withdrawal of all foreign troops from Cyprus before a settlement agreement is implemented in a bid to secure the island’s national interests and those of the Greek Cypriot community.

Presenting the proposal on security and guarantees, jointly drafted by Diko, Edek, and Solidarity, Diko chairman and presidential hopeful Nicolas Papadopoulos said decades of experience showed that Turkey was unreliable.

“What we are suggesting is that no deal should be implemented before Turkey fulfils its obligations,” Papadopoulos said during a news conference. “One of the most important obligations Turkey has is, of course, the withdrawal of troops.”

Papadopoulos argued that President Nicos Anastasiades had agreed to concede everything on day one, but “we must trust Turkey to fulfil its own obligations over time”.

“We are abolishing the Republic of Cyprus on day one, abolishing the institutions… upgrading the occupation leader to co-president,” Papadopoulos said. “He can veto all decisions. In the state’s institutions, they (Turkish Cypriots) would either have numerical equality, or the Turkish side would have a veto.”

He went on to claim that no decision would be taken without Turkey’s approval if something went wrong.

The three hard-line parties suggested full and permanent abolition of Turkey’s right to intervene in any part of the republic before a solution is put to a referendum. The same goes for the 1960 Treaty of Alliance between Greece, Turkey, and the republic, which governed the deployment of Greek and Turkish troops on the island.

They also want the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the island before the implementation of a solution.

During implementation, the only forces on the island would be the joint Cypriot armed forces, assisted by a contingent under the aegis of the United Nations or the Council of Europe. No troops from the guarantor powers would take part.

The parties said the part of the agreement granting powers to Turkish Cypriots should not be implemented until Turkey meets certain obligations in relation to security – withdrawal of its troops and equipment from Cyprus, recognising the Republic of Cyprus as per its EU obligations and signing and ratifying an exclusive economic zone delineation agreement with the republic that will be attached as an appendix to the settlement agreement.

“The solution plan must clearly state that in the period between the referendum and the implementation of the settlement, during which the troops will be withdrawn, the current state of affairs will remain in force,” the parties said. “For this exact reason, the first article of the solution agreement must state clearly that the Republic of Cyprus will continue as is.”

Main opposition Akel questioned whether the announcement of the proposal aimed at helping the upcoming talks in Geneva or serving election purposes.

Party spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said adoption of the proposal would mean the end of negotiations with the Greek Cypriot side taking the blame.

“Not only we must return to the state of affairs before the invasion, but we must also get rid of the negative elements of the 1960 agreements before we even decide whether we accept the solution or not,” Stefanou said of the proposal. “Only those suffering from unforgivable naivety could believe that we can reach a settlement with such approaches.”

He stressed that his party was in favour of abolishing the anachronistic system of guarantees, but such “ill-timed and misplaced” approaches would only achieve the perpetuation of the current system.

The party also questioned the suggestion of maintaining a Cypriot army, which went against the fixed Greek Cypriot position of full demilitarisation.

Stefanou said that if the issues proposed by the three parties were raised the only result would be the collapse of the negotiating process.

“The consequences of such a development would be tragic for the country and the people.”

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