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Parties focus on future of Cyprus talks at overseas Cypriots’ conference

Family photo of delegates from the 20th World Conference on Overseas Cypriots on Wednesday

The main political parties on Wednesday focused their attention on the upcoming visit of UN envoy Jane Holl Lute in their addresses to overseas Cypriots at a conference in Nicosia, saying that defining the terms of reference for new talks was the only way forward.

Ruling Disy chief Averof Neophytou said he was convinced there would be some movement in this direction when Lute meets the two leaders separately this coming weekend.

He said time was working against the Greek Cypriot side and this might be “the last chance to find a solution on the agreed basis” of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Any other arrangement would merely be the first steps to partition, he added, and eventually “the long-term Turkification of Cyprus”.

The goal had to be to rid Cyprus of Turkey “which will allow all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to consult and plan a common peaceful future through a reasonable and just compromise”.
“We are claiming the obvious. For the future of our children we demand freedom and respect for human rights. To live in a normal state, without guarantors, without occupation troops,” Neophytou said.

He also called for unity saying it was necessary at such a crucial time to put country before party or ideologies.

Main opposition Akel, spokesman Stefanos Stefanou also warned that the passage of time without a solution was causing new problems and risks.

“Finding a solution must be a top priority,” he said, adding that new negotiations would open a window of hope, “albeit a small one”.
“It is Akel’s long-standing position that the passage of time without a solution, impedes the prospects for a solution and creates new problems and dangers,” Stefanou said. “The situation we are facing today proves this to be true,” he added, referring to Turkey’s activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, and its stance on seeking a new kind of Cyprus solution outside of UN parameters.

“A scene is emerging that even the UN secretary-general notes in a recent report that gas may prove a blessing, but it can be turned into a curse,” said Stefanou.

Each issue that Turkey raises could be resolved through a comprehensive solution, the Akel spokesman said. Any thoughts of abandoning the bizonal, bicommunal federation, would just make it easier for Turkey to achieve its goals, he added. “It is for this reason that we must remain focused and continue to have as a first priority, reaching a solution.”

“If the president moves in this direction, we as Akel, will be supportive.”

Centre-right Diko also said the talks should be put on the right track, and that meant neither a confederation, nor a two-state solution.

Senior party official Athos Antoniades also spoke of US interest in the Cyprus issue for the first time in many years due to energy planning. But he also referred to the alienation of long-time ally Russia, due to its thorny relations with Washington.

Referring to Lute’s visit, Antoniades said it was an opportunity to “reaffirm the Cypriot solution on the correct basis with respect for human rights and the European acquis”.

“This is the right basis for a solution to the Cyprus problem and we must return to it,” he said.

Of the smaller more hardline Greek Cypriot parties, Solidarity’s Eleni Theocharous said her party insisted that “any negotiation with the conqueror in the present context, with the huge difference in military, political, economic and diplomatic power cannot lead to a positive outcome, even if we have the moral advantage.”

Referring to the youth wing of the diaspora, she said they were taking the lead.

“Their youthful militancy and enthusiasm are sure to lead us to better days and dreams,” she said.

 

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