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‘Giant leaps’ need to be made in Switzerland (updated)

The Anastasiades government secured some supportive statements from countries like the US and Russia, neither of which condemned what was described as a Turkish invasion

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday that what’s important is that the Greek Cypriot side is going to the talks in Switzerland determined to achieve progress, despite the failure of shaping a common document.

In an interview on state broadcaster CyBC’s bicommunal TV programme Biz-Emeis, the president said that an acceptable solution cannot create winners and losers.

What’s important, he said, is not to disappoint the two communities and achieve not just progress but giant leaps that would lead to the end of the process.

“What’s important is that we are going to Switzerland despite the failure of shaping a common document, with decisiveness with the goodwill to work constructively to reach a solution accepted by both communities,” the president said.

He added that despite that the aim of the Conference on Cyprus is to discuss security and guarantees, it does not exclude parallel discussion on other issues.

“First, we will discuss security, then territory, property and then we will go back to security because without progress on that issue, no progress is expected on the other issues,” he said.

The other issues, Anastasiades said, have been extensively discussed, but what remains is progress on an issue, not discussed so far (security).

As regards guarantees Anastasiades said that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci “must finally realise” that as long as there are guarantors and troops, it would be a lot easier for those who control those troops to intervene (in internal issues).

He added that in September 2016 he had submitted a document on all aspects concerning security – constitutional, internal, implementation of the solution – with a number of methods and practices that have been followed in the past in similar cases that include UN resolutions and an international police force.

“What’s important is that the security of the one cannot become the insecurity of the other side,” Anastasiades said.

The Turkish Cypriots, he said, have some concerns which his proposals deal with effectively, but at the same time the Greek Cypriots do not want to feel that the presence of any troops is a threat to them.

“All the problems we face today are due to third party interventions,” he said.

He referred to the 1974 coup of the Greek junta against then President Makarios that allowed Turkey to invade.

As to recent incidents of violence against Turkish Cypriots, Anastasiades said that even though he condemns such acts, these concern a “few hooligans” and that they are isolated incidents. This, he said, should not become an excuse however, for the necessity of the presence of troops to protect the Turkish Cypriots.

He added that each constituent state will have its own police force, and that there will be federal police, international police, and the UN security council that could intervene in the case an incident gets out of control.

Commenting on the need of the people to be better informed of what has been agreed at the negotiation table, Anastasiades said that he has suggested twice to Akinci, without any success, to give a joint press conference, to give an account on what has been agreed, and to put a stop to rumours and on claims of those opposing a settlement solution.

He said that Akinci rejected his proposal, to avoid making any commitments on what has been agreed so far. The Turkish Cypriot side, he said, went back on some convergences agreed.

Commenting on whether they have reached an agreement on the number of settlers from Turkey post solution, he said that they have agreed on the number of the citizens of a United Cyprus but that the regime in the north has since granted new ‘citizenships’ “which overthrows what has been agreed”.

Anastasiades said that he is well prepared for all scenarios at the talks and would welcome a constructive attitude from Turkey.

He added that he finds unacceptable statements such as “it is now or never”, as they are not constructive.

He said that the EU has great authority over Cyprus and its rules should be the ones on which the settlement solution is based. “The EU will monitor Cyprus, no member state can violate human rights or rules and principles of the EU acquis without sanctions,” he said. He added that Cyprus could even be kicked out of the bloc or see its membership suspended if it misbehaves.

Anastasiades also extended his wishes to Turkish Cypriots on the occasion of the Ramadan festivities.

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