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Rhetoric between the leaders worsens

The rhetoric between the two Cypriot leaders worsened on Tuesday, two days after the visit of UN envoy Jane Holl Lute who was unable to budge either side into a four-party meeting.

A written statement by President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday afternoon, which was billed as a response to an earlier statement by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, said the claims being pursued by the latter were Turkish aims for the “hijack and complete control of Cyprus by Turkey”.

The leaders have been having an over-and-back recently about the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots in a federation, with each side dismissing the other’s positions and proposals.

The new statements by both leaders on Tuesday could be seen by some as a way to deflect blame for the failure to come up with terms of reference for a resumption of talks, given that the UN Secretary-General’s report on his Good Offices Missions is to be submitted to the Security Council on April 15.

“It would be good,” said Anastasiades, “If Mr Akinci indicated both to us and to the United Nations, what other recognised federal state applies the same or similar claims to those of his own community”.

Speaking later, Anastasiades said there was only so far he would be pushed. Anastasiades said: “Until today, I have shown patience.  But there are some limits.  One side cannot constantly make arguments that don’t exist.”

Akinci, in a written statement earlier on Tuesday said the latest proposals put forward by the Greek Cypriot leadership demonstrated again that the Greek Cypriot side was not ready to accept a settlement on the basis of political equality within the framework of UN parameters.

“The Turkish Cypriot side has been adopting a clear stance ever since the UN Secretary-General’s temporary special adviser Jane Holl Lute had embarked on her mission to draft the terms of reference aimed at restarting talks,” said Akinci.

“We reminded that political equality and effective participation in decision making is vital for us,” he added.

Akinci also accused the Greek Cypriot leadership of “constantly altering its positions”

“First the Greek Cypriot side brought up the concept of a decentralised federation but it failed to provide substance and detail. Then they said they were ready to discuss the 30 June 2017 Guterres framework but instead tried to invent another framework document dated 4 July 2017. Just recently they rehashed a rejected proposal presented in the early days of the negotiations proposing a system whereby the president would be a Greek Cypriot and you would have a rotational prime minister. Not only is this proposal old it is not in accordance with the Guterres Framework which envisages a 2 to 1 system of a rotational presidency,” he said.

Akinci said it was “inhumane and unacceptable” for the Turkish Cypriot side, which adopted a consistent and constructive stance both in efforts to reach a settlement and the drafting of the terms of reference, to continue to be punished.

“Nevertheless, the positions of the two sides regarding the drafting of the terms of reference must be included in the [Secretary-General’s] report in a clear and impartial manner,” Akinci said.

He also said a solution in Cyprus could not be found by starting from scratch, but as the UN Secretary-General stated, through a timetabled and results-oriented process which was not open-ended and which accepted past convergences, such as the February 11, 2014 Joint Declaration and the June 30, 2017 Guterres Framework.

He also said that “the international community should no longer turn a blind eye to the injustice faced by Turkish Cypriots and the determined and sincere stance adopted by the Turkish Cypriot side for peace in Cyprus”. He added that the continuation of the status quo would have negative consequences for both communities both in the short and long term.

Anastasiades responded by saying: “It is the Greek Cypriot community that for 45 years has been struggling  and having a sense of urgency for a Cyprus solution, since the Turkish invasion of 1974 and as a result of the occupation of 37 per cent of the territory of Cyprus by Turkish troops and the usurping by Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers of the property of 167,000 forcibly displaced Greek Cypriots.”

“Mr Akinci, the claims you are pursuing are the hijack and complete control of Cyprus by Turkey,” he added.

“It is also important to clarify Mr Akinci whether you support maintaining invasive and guarantee rights and the permanent presence of third-country troops in a free united country?”

Anastasiades also asked the Turkish Cypriot leader to explain why Varosha has remained a ghost town for 45 years when the Turkish side will not even accept the appointment of an international committee to study the fenced-off area of Famagusta that is under Turkish military control, to see what is needed for reconstruction.

The president said he could answer a lot more to Akinci but that he would avoid “further exacerbating the negative political climate that the Turkish Cypriot leadership aims to create”.

“The president aims to contribute positively to a climate and immediate resumption of talks from where they ended in Crans-Montana, with prospects of success for the benefit of all the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots by working closely with the representative the UN Secretary General Ms Jane Hall Lute in the effort to restart the negotiations,” he concluded.

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