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Cyprus Talks

Akel leader and president spar over comments by Cavusoglu

Akel leader Andros Kyprianou

The government and opposition Akel traded barbs on Wednesday over what Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said or didn’t say in public or private, about abolishing Turkey’s guarantee on Cyprus.
The row began on Tuesday, when Akel leader Andros Kyprianou, who was addressing the Cypriot diaspora in the US, was quoted in media as saying Cavusoglu told him during a private dinner they had in Ankara two weeks ago that Turkey was willing to fully abolish its guarantees under certain conditions.
Kyprianou made it clear he was transmitting what the Turkish foreign minister had said to him and it was not an endorsement.
Kyprianou said Cavusoglu told him he was authorised during the negotiations in Crans-Montana to come to an agreement “and he was ready”, after which both the Turkish and Greek prime ministers would go to the Swiss resort to finalise the agreement.
At the time, in July 2017, reports did trickle out suggesting Cavusoglu had been ready to agree to the abolition of the guarantees with caveats relating to the number of Turkish troops that would stay on the island and for how long.
At the same time, Kyprianou said he was troubled by what he heard from the Turkish minister because it would involve conditions, some of which were under discussion and some were not dependent on the Greek Cypriots.
Responding early Wednesday, President Nicos Anastasiades said Cavusoglu never referred either publicly or in private to the abolition of guarantees, and Kyprianou who had briefed him about the meeting a week ago had not informed him about such a conversation. He did not wish to comment on the Akel leader’s statements without being informed of what was said, he added.
According to CNA, the president was asked whether Cavusoglu had left open the possibility of the full abolition in Crans-Montana, but Anastasiades said no such statement was made either publicly or in private.
“Mr Kyprianou did not inform me about what exactly was discussed regarding any preconditions and what these preconditions were and whether they depend or not on the Republic of Cyprus,” Anastasiades said. He added that he now expected an update.
Answering another question, Anastasiades said that in Crans-Montana, Cavusoglu was insisting the guarantees “should continue for 10 or 15 years” and “if we behaved appropriately”’, they would have a review clause, “which meant that if the other side did not give its consent, the guarantees would never end”, Anastasiades said.
Anastasiades’ statement was followed by a new response from Kyprianou, saying whatever he had said in his speech to the diaspora, he had already said to the president.
“Some of these things, in fact, have been mentioned publicly in Cyprus, without this nasty reaction by Mr Anastasiades,” Kyprianou said.
“As for what I said… I did not say that Mr Cavusoglu or Turkey would fully abolish… he said he would accept to discuss complete abolition under certain conditions… without implying that they will necessarily end up completely abolished. I briefed Mr Anastasiades on this and on exactly what the conditions were, and he [Anastasiades] shook his head and waved his hand to show he thought that this was hot air. Therefore, he should not say that I didn’t inform him.”
This was then followed by the government spokesman’s office reproducing what CNA had reported verbatim on Tuesday, saying the president had been asked to respond to it: “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, has set certain terms and conditions for the Turkish side to accept the complete abolition of guarantees, said the general secretary of Akel Andros Kyprianou”. The spokesman’s statement called for a halt to the wrangling saying it was a moot point given there was a new Cyprus initiative on the horizon.

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