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Turks would not budge on troops says Anastasiades

President Anastasiades and UN envoy Espen Barth Eide

The two sides were close to reaching a settlement deal in Switzerland but this was prevented by Turkey’s insistence on the permanent presence of 1,800 Turkish soldiers on the island, President Anastasiades said.

Speaking to Politis, in an interview that was published on Sunday, Anastasiades said he was considering writing a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asking for confirmation of the statements of special adviser Espen Barth Eide that Turkey had agreed to the termination of the guarantees from the first day of a settlement.

Eide’s comments made following the collapse of the talks was challenged by Anastasiades and Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias, both of whom branded the UN official a liar. Eide blamed the collapse of the talks on a “collective failure,” while Anastasiades maintained that Turkey’s intransigence was 100 per cent to blame. Eide said the termination of guarantees was on the cards and also rejected Cyprus government claims that Guterres had misunderstood the content of a private conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Crans-Montana about Ankara’s willingness to ditch the guarantees system from the first day of a settlement.

Anastasiades said in the interview that he was ready to return to the negotiations table “if what Mr Cavusoglu implied was true, that what Mr Eide is saying is the reality, that Turkey that is, would agree to the termination of the guarantees from day one, […], for the reduction of the Turkish troops and agree to a minimum number and timeframe for the departure of the troops”.

The president also denied charges that he was against the arrival of the prime-ministers of the three guarantors – Greece, Turkey, the UK – in Crans-Montana.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. We never refused, on the contrary, we agreed with the UNSG for a brief statement to be issued, that would provide for the termination of the guarantees and the abolition of intervention rights, in order to facilitate the arrival of the prime- ministers,” he said.

He added that the Greek Prime Minister was ready to travel to Crans-Montana as long as “our positions were satisfied and Mr Cavusoglu made clear that he meant (what he said) as to the first day of the solution”. He added: “I want to make clear that that was also the suggestion of the UNSG”.

But Tsipras could not travel to Crans-Montana, Anastasiades said, because neither the two other PMs would go unless an agreement was reached regarding Turkey’s intentions concerning the first day of a settlement. “The position of all three was clear,” he said. Tsipras, he said, had spoken with both his Turkish and British counterparts.

“Therefore, misinformation is no good for anything,” Anastasiades said.

He also said that the stumbling block on the abolition of the Treaty of Guarantee, was not on the refusal of the Greek Cypriot side to agree to the presence on the island of a Greek and of a Turkish contingent of 950 and 650 men respectively.

“I will have to reveal that the Turks wanted a military base and permanent presence of a contingent of between 1,800 and 2,000 soldiers. That is Turkey’s position,” Anastasiades said.

Cavusoglu, Anastasiades said, had even proposed to Kotzias for Greece to do the same, since the UK already had bases on the island, but that the Greek minister said no.

The president said he remained committed to the goal of liberation and reunification of the country which could be achieved through his proposals. He refuted claims by rejectionists that he made “unacceptable concessions”, but that he made compromises “that could allow us to co-exist safely, as long as we are not pawns of third parties or serve the interests of third parties”.

Anastasiades said that there cannot be a solution however without the contribution of Turkey, and that during a meeting he had with Cavusoglu on July 4 he had tried to convince him of withdrawing Turkey’s demand for military bases on the island.

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