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Now Turkish Cypriot side says Eide has overstepped his bounds

Espen Barth Eide

UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide has overstepped his authority in choosing to publically voice his opinion that guarantees and intervention rights have no place in a modern state, Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister ’Tahsin Ertugruloglu charged on Friday.

Eide, who has come under strong fire from the Cyprus government and now from the Turkish Cypriot side, was accused by the ‘minister’ over comments he made in an interview to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) on July 22 when he said “from early on it was my conviction that ‘in a modern sovereign state’ there is no place for the Treaty of Guarantee and the right of intervention.”

In a statement, Ertugruloglu said Eide “not only violated the principle of impartiality of the Good Offices Mission, but also completely ignored the historical facts on the Island, and thus exceedingly overstepped his authority which entails non-interference on substantive issues.”

The quote also “ignores the fact” that it was Turkey’s intervention that stopped Cyprus from being annexed to Greece and undermines “the traumas endured by the Turkish Cypriot people by implying that it is unnecessary for them to still feel concerned about history repeating itself in the case of a possible solution.”

His statement also said it was only recently that Cyprus decided to commemorate the 1950 enosis vote in schools.

Calling on Eide to refrain from making “controversial statements” and respect Turkish Cypriot sensitivities, Ertugruloglu also said it was not possible “to understand the association made by Eide between the abolishment of the guarantee system and ‘modernity’.”

Ironically, the same interview saw Eide being accused by Cypriot politicians as a liar and an agent for Turkish interests, with calls for his replacement as he said the collapse of the talks was due to a “collective failure”.

His comments clashed with Cyprus’ official narrative that the blame lay wholly on Turkish intransigence.

According to CNA, in a televised interview, Ertugruloglu said Turkey had not conceded on intervention rights and any news on a ‘plan B’ or thoughts surrounding Varosha are not accurate however every step to be taken will be done after discussions with Turkey.

Negotiations on the Cyprus problem that have been going on for decades have collapsed and a new page for Cyprus needs to begin, he reportedly said.

Turkish Cypriots need to jointly devise with Turkey what future steps should be taken and if he was in the shoes of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, would go to ‘parliament’ to brief them to show the international community that negotiations were over.

Seeing as the talks failed, Akinci’s responsibilities as a negotiator have ended and there is nothing left for him to negotiate, Ertugruloglu said according to CNA.

Meanwhile, Turkey said the wording of the UN Security Council regarding the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) has no meaning as it ‘prejudges’ the future of negotiations.

The comments from the Turkish foreign ministry came a day after the Security Council renewed Unficyp’s mandate for a further six months and called for a review in four months.

While the mandate hailed progress achieved thus far, it encouraged both sides to engage, as a matter of urgency, in consultations with Unficyp on the demarcation of the buffer zone, with a view to reaching early agreement on outstanding issues, calling on the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to restore the military status quo in Strovilia which existed there prior to June 30, 2000.

In a statement, Turkey’s foreign ministry said the resolution “contains certain wordings which prejudge the future conduct of the Cyprus settlement process.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report on July 10 had called on the two leaders to reflect on why the talks in Crans Montana had collapsed and contemplate on the way ahead.

“This being the case, the wordings prejudging the period ahead in the resolution on the extension of Unficyp’s mandate have no meaning,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said.

“Taking into account the recommendation of the UN Secretary-General, Turkey is continuing its assessment of the future steps to be taken on the settlement of the Cyprus issue in light of its observations concerning the course of the process to date as well as its determination to reach a lasting settlement.”

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