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Akinci: Greek Cypriot side unwilling to listen

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci

By Andria Kades

The Turkish Cypriot side remains committed to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem however Greek Cypriots are unwilling to listen and have hindered efforts to resolve it, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said on Thursday.

In a televised address marking the 44th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion on July 20 in 1974, Akinci said it was not his intention to accuse or criticise the Greek Cypriot side but to stress that the road to co-existing was through cooperation and confidence building.

“A real transformation of mentality is needed for this. I am repeatedly underlining the importance of this. Unfortunately, they do not want to listen,” he said.

Marking the beginning of a series of celebrations in the north, Akinci said Turkey’s military intervention following the coup carried out in Cyprus by Greece five days earlier “had prevented the situation from worsening”.

The best outcome since then would have been to reach a just solution but “unfortunately the years have not been favourable”.

“As I have always stated if there is a problem somewhere, the search for a solution will always continue. However, it is high time for all parties involved, particularly the UN, to seriously question as to why efforts for the past 50 years failed to yield any results.

“It must be understood that recognising one of the two sides on the island as the sole legal owner of the island and isolating the other community will not serve efforts to reach a solution but only the continuation of the status quo” he said.

In his address, Akinci noted that the Turkish Cypriot side has proven their desire for a settlement time and time again, whether it was the 2004 Annan Plan or during the talks in Crans Montana.

“The UN has repeatedly seen which side has worked in support of a settlement and which side has tried to hinder the efforts. However, despite the fact that this was seen and known, it was not reflected in the UN report. To be shown equally responsible with the Greek Cypriot side has been a true injustice to the Turkish Cypriot side,” said Akinci.

A year on, the Greek Cypriots have not changed their negative stance and have created obstacles and difficulties for the Turkish Cypriots ranging from the north’s efforts to harmonise with the EU or efforts to build confidence between the two communities, he added.

He said Turkish Cypriots had demonstrated how willing they were for a settlement after Akinci himself publicly said on April 30 this year that if the Greek Cypriot side was ready to accept the Guterres framework without changes, it could be announced as a strategic package agreement.

“If we have failed to achieve this goal it is not because of us,” he said.

Commenting on the upcoming visit to the island by the UN Secretary-General’s consultant on the Cyprus problem, Jane Holl Lute, Akinci said that the UN envoy’s mission was a temporary one aimed at probing the possibility of resuming talks and drawing a new roadmap for the period ahead.

“Ms Lute is not a new permanent advisor…in other words, she is not a new Espen Barth Eide”, he stressed, adding that the UN envoy would also be holding contacts with three guarantor powers as well.

Akinci said that the Turkish Cypriot side would continue to pursue the principles of equality, freedom and security in the period ahead. “We shall however not accept open-ended, endless talks or become part of a process without deadlines of timeframes” he stressed.

The Turkish Cypriot leader noted said it would be wrong to postpone everything until after a settlement is reached on the island.

“Our strategic choice, of course, is a settlement in Cyprus but this is not only up to us. The Greek Cypriot side particularly needs a serious change of views. It is my wish and hope that the Greek Cypriot side adopts a new understanding in the period ahead so that we may pave the way for a lasting and just solution” he noted, adding that efforts to further develop the country’s economy and democracy would continue in the meantime.

“While the Cyprus problem lies at the foundations of many of the problems we experience, there is much we can do independently from the Cyprus problem. We need to do this…we can do this and we can succeed,” he stressed.

Akinci concluded his address wishing the Turkish Cypriot people a happy 20th of July “peace and freedom day” and remembering “all the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the freedom and security of the Turkish Cypriot people”.

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