NICOSIA – Archbishop Chrysostomos’ insistence a Turk can’t be President of Cyprus under a rotating scheme has drawn fire from Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who has been negotiating a unity plan with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
“They should not insist on rotating Presidency, unless they can point to any country in the world where 18 percent of the population elects the President,” Chrysostomos said, the Cyprus Mail reported.
“Then we can all go and vote for Akinci for President of the Republic of Cyprus,” the Archbishop said in a shot at the Turkish-Cypriot leader who said he wants to finalize a deal by the end of the year to bring Cyprus together for the first time since an unlawful Turkish invasion in 1974.
Anastasiades and Akinci have agreed on mostly minor concessions so far with the major obstacles – including Turkey’s demand it be allowed to keep a standing army of more than 30,000 on the northern third it occupies – holding back progress.
But the rotating Presidency is a sticking point too, especially among Cypriots who don’t want a Turk to be the island’s leader at the same time Turkey maintains the occupied territory and property belonging to Cypriots forced out of their homes during the invasion.
The cleric’s remarks showed he’s a religious leader who wants permanent partition, Akinci’s spokesman Baris Burcu said.
He added in a written statement the solution to the Cyprus problem would be based on political equality, as recorded in the joint declaration of Anastasiades and then-Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on Feb. 11, 2014.
Chrysostomos said he opposed the rotating Presidency and the right of mainland Turkish settlers – other than those married to Turkish Cypriots – to remain in a reunited Cyprus.
On settlers, he said that the Greek Cypriot side “for humanitarian reasons, says that those who have married Turkish Cypriots should not be separated, they can stay. The rest have to go,” drawing a hard line over the possibility.
Burcu said that any solution model that did not introduce political equality for Turkish Cypriots was unacceptable to the Turkish Cypriot side, and that, “There will never be a solution like the one Archbishop Chrysostomos is thinking about.”
Burcu added: “The rejectionists on the Greek Cypriot side are poisoning the atmosphere by saying they are against the bizonal, bicommunal federation. Their goal is a unitary state dominated by the Greek Cypriot community and minority rights for Turkish Cypriots”.
Burcu though – speaking for Akinci who has had good relations with Anastasiades – took a shot at the Cypriot President too about the displaced residents of the community of Morphou, in northwestern Cyprus under the control of the Turks.
Anastasiades said the village, which was almost entirely made up of Cypriots in 1974, should be returned to the former residents.
“It is imperative that Morphou should be among the areas that must be part of the Greek Cypriot constituent state,” he said.
Burcu rejected the idea and said, “Territory will be discussed in the immediate future, names, percentages of territory, and maps, have not been discussed yet,” he said. “If the Greek Cypriot side is trying to gain some advantage by referring to specific names, it is mistaken,” he added.
Referring to the 2004 so-called Annan Plan – named after a former United Nations leader – that was accepted by Turks but rejected by Cypriots, Burcu said Anastasiades has to realize that that remarks not taking the “realities” into account, and shaped according to the demands of the “rejectionist camp,” do not help efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
The Turkish-owned Famagusta Gazette said that Anastasiades, speaking during an anti-occupation rally organized by former Morphou residents, said that Turks occupying their houses would be given assistance to relocate.
At the same time, he underlined that, “We are not ready to accept a bad solution, because a bad solution will have the same detrimental results as a non-solution.”
The rally of Morphou inhabitants ended at Astromeritis check point where a petition was handed over to the UN calling on them to exert pressure on Turkey to change its stance and work for a just settlement of the Cyprus problem and for the restoration of all Cypriots` basic human rights, the paper said.
“Cyprus must remain an independent united state, with a single sovereignty, a single personality and territorial integrity,” the petition added, noting that a solution must not give any country the right to intervene in the state`s internal affairs.
A bevy of diplomats and politicians have failed for decades to find the answer for Cyprus unity with both sides taking hard line stances on various issues, especially the Turks over their army and wanting to keep seized properties, making a resolution this year seem even more unlikely.