Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos said on Tuesday that he would seek to hear from his Turkish counterpart in their upcoming meeting this week about specific positions on the replacement of the guarantees system on Cyprus.
Katrougalos is on the island for a series of contacts for coordination between the two countries on the Cyprus problem and energy issues ahead of a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday in Turkey and Wednesday’s trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Israel in Jerusalem.
The Greek foreign minister said after a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Christodoulides that Greece wants to see progress on the Cyprus problem the soonest possible.
“We want it to be solved yesterday,” he said, adding that what Greece wants is to launch an honest, informal preparatory dialogue and seek specific answers from Turkey to achieve progress. This, he said, would allow, when substantive talks are launched, the utilisation of the progress achieved at the last round of negotiations at Crans-Montana, Switzerland in the summer of 2017.
He said that during his meeting with Cavusoglu, he will ask to hear more specific views.
“The other side has not opened its cards yet as to how it is contemplating replacing this unacceptable status of guarantees with a mechanism which would not repeat colonial characteristics and the previous legal status that is contrary to international law,” Katrougalos said.
The Cyprus problem, he said, primarily concerns a violation of the international law of invasion and occupation of part of a sovereign state and must be dealt with as such. He said he would also propose drafting a road map with Turkey for de-escalation of tension between the two sides.
Christodoulides said that they have agreed on specific messages to be conveyed to Turkey aiming at leading to talks that would have a positive effect.
“Our goal is not to negotiate for the sake of it. We want meaningful and targeted talks that can have a positive outcome,” Christodoulides said.
The sole aim of Cyprus, he said, is the resumption of substantive and targeted talks that would put an end to “the current unacceptable state of affairs.”
He expressed the hope that Katrougalos’ contacts in Turkey would be fruitful.
As regards Turkish provocation that is being daily escalated in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, Christodoulides said that Nicosia would not engage in a public dialogue with Turkey.
“We are not going to follow the Turkish approach,” he said. “The Republic of Cyprus and Greece are pillars of stability and security in the region.”
Katrougalos said that during his meeting with Christodoulides they also discussed the trilateral partnerships the two countries have forged in the region, as well as European issues and EU-Turkey relations.
Both ministers said that Greece and Cyprus were not in agreement with a suspension of Turkey’s EU accession.
It is a fact that Turkey’s behaviour may have led some member states into thinking other approaches as regards Turkey’s accession process, Christodoulides said, but “we disagree with this approach.”
Putting distance between Turkey and the EU by suspending her accession negotiations will not help to resolve the Cyprus problem or transform Turkey into a country that respects human rights and the rule of law, he said.
“We want a Turkey that is close to the EU and this can only be ensured by the continuation of the accession process.” Ending this process would lead to even more unpredictable developments, he said.
Katrougalos said that Greece fully agrees on that but under the condition that Turkey respects the two countries and international law.
An anti-European, hostile Turkey will not be in the best interest of the EU, Greece, Cyprus or the Turkish people, he said. “Instead, her European path ought to be open, under the condition of course, that she would respect the European legal culture at all levels.”
Katrougalos met earlier in the day with President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace.
After the meeting Anastasiades tweeted that he had a constructive meeting with the Greek foreign minister.
“Our two governments are in consultation and there is absolute coordination,” Anastasiades said.
Katrougalos also met House Speaker Demetris Syllouris and Archbishop Chrysostomos.