Turkey said it’s now willing to negotiate security issues on Cyprus in a bid to make headway in hopes for a reunification of the island.
The move was seen as a softening of its hardline stance to not even recognize the existence of Cyprus, where it keeps a standing army and has unlawfully occupied the northern third since invading in 1974.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a interview with a Greek Cypriot daily that Turkey is willing to discuss the guarantees issue which Greek Cypriots consider a necessary prerequisite for a solution.
“We understand that for a lasting solution to be reached the security concerns of the Greek Cypriots must also be satisfied,” Cavusoglu told Phileleftheros newspaper.
The 1960 Treaty of Guarantee accorded to former colonial power Britain and also to Turkey and Greece the status of guarantor powers for the independence of Cyprus and invoked it send in the army 41 years ago.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been talking since May of 2015 about plans to create some kind of unification plan but the negotiations have slowed.
Anastasiade said that an agreement which will preserve the 1960 guarantees arrangements would stand no chance to be approved in a plebiscite by the Greek Cypriots, who comprise 80 percent of the population.
He has also made it known that all Turkish forces in northern part of the Cyprus island must start withdrawing from there from the first day of a solution.
Cavusoglu also said in his interview that Turkey will not be “very flexible” on the issue of guarantees and other security issues, undercutting his previous remarks and as his country still refuses to admit ships or planes from Cyprus, a member of the European Union, at the same time Turkey want to join.
The Turkish foreign minister said the guarantees and security issues should be discussed at the end of the negotiations, after other important internal issues will have been agreed upon.
Anastasiades said: “These policies do not meet serious concerns of the vast majority of Greek Cypriots,” he said.
Cavusoglu also said in his interview that Turkey will bear its share of the cost for a Cyprus solution, which has provisionally been estimated at 25 billion euros, well above the annual Cypriot economy.