The demand for equality, freedom and security for Turkish Cypriots under a Cyprus solution is not exaggerated, but fundamental, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said on Sunday.
Akinci said the Turkish Cypriot side wants a structure where they will feel safe, have effective participation in decisions, a rotating presidency, political equality and where one side will not impose its will on the other.
The Turkish Cypriot leader, who spoke at a medal ceremony for ‘Limassol heroes in the presence of Turkish army commanders, also referred to the issue of natural gas, saying that the natural wealth in the eastern Mediterranean was not just for the Greek Cypriots.
“The Greek Cypriots will make their own choices, but our own preference is the path of peace, the path of reason. These lands and this natural wealth are enough for all of us, ” said Akinci.
He reiterated his call for postponement of gas and hydrocarbon exploration by the Greek Cypriot side, or a joint committee should be set up to manage the plan. Otherwise, he said, exploration will begin in the region with a research vessel bought by Turkey.
Akinci said “without being attached to the past, we must look at the future and not experience any more pain”. “We poured enough blood and pain in this land,” he said, adding that both sides had experienced this pain.
“We Turkish Cypriots as the smaller community, and drawing on the lessons we have experiences, will not leave our equality, freedom and security fall through the cracks. The demand for equality, freedom and security is not extreme but fundamental.”
He referred to President Nicos Anastasiades’ demand for ‘zero troops, zero guarantees’ at the failed negotiations in Crans-Montana last year, and said this approach was a non-starter for the resumption of talks.
The Greek Cypriot side, he said, “continues to distort and alter its statements”.
Akinci said that when the envoy appointed by UN chief Antonio Guterres to sound out prospects for a resumption of talks, comes to the island “on a date suitable for everyone”, then it would be possible to know if there was any change in the Greek Cypriot mentality, he added.